Move over, Belgium. Orange County now has its own bean-to-bar chocolate factory. ChocXo (choc-zoh) is owned by Dana Point resident Richard Foley, who’s been in the sweet biz for decades, mostly supplying ingredients to baking professionals. At ChocXo, Foley’s making his own fine, single-origin chocolate—starting with whole cocoa beans from cacoa growers in Central and South America and the Dominican Republic.
Going from beans to creamy, glossy chocolate is quite a process—and ChocXo is happy to show us every step in its behind-the-scenes tour, where the specialized equipment is explained and tastes are offered, including end-result liquid chocolate that’s like a thin, intensely flavored ganache. Factory tours are $20 per person ($10 for children under 12)—click here for info. For its grand opening starting this evening and continuing Saturday, there’ll be free front-of-house tours of the retail area with samples and chances to win an annual supply of chocolate bars. (Grand opening details here.)
That liquid ganache has another destination beyond getting made into bars. You might say it makes the best of another kind of bean. Foley also owns two ChocXo Coffee and Cacao cafés in Costa Mesa and Lake Forest. I stopped into the Lake Forest location—so conveniently adjacent to our nearest Home Depot—to try his mocha flavored with a shot of the ganache. I don’t like sweet coffee drinks, but the idea of pure chocolate meeting Foley’s single-origin-bean coffee is enticing. A big Diedrich roaster on site handles the beans for both the stores, and there’s a good selection of ChocXo’s chocolate products for sale, too. But that mocha—so good! And, not sweet, as it turns out. A person could start looking forward to those Home Depot trips.