cups n chocI love happy accidents and amazing finds. On this trip to Southern California, as we were driving into Costa Mesa, I saw a sign that said Chocxo. I pretty much knew it was a chocolate/coffee house and then I saw part of the sign said locally roasted. We were on our way to the local library to work, so I stopped in.

I am a chocolate lover and I search out the places that serve above and beyond commercial, Americanized, or even European varieties. It is part of being from the Southwest, raised so close to the land of the Aztecs (read this article if you want to know about chocolate and the Aztecs).

At Chocxo, I am in heaven. This is a gem in the middle of Orange County. They process their own cacao and roast their own coffee beans. They make all their own truffles and chocolate treats, and they have vegan options (I don’t need to say gluten free – by default chocolate IS gluten free).

The barista, Eunice, was super friendly and willing to answer all questions. She let me taste each chocolate available and decide which one I wanted in my mocha. Two choices were from Ecuador, Central America, one from Peru. Each one was equally as good with both bitter, smoky and sweet notes. I tried Fortunato no. 4, Especial Peru, 80% cacao; Camino Verde Ecuador, 72% cacao, and the Yaguachi Ecuador, 70%.

chocolate from Chocxo in Costa Mesa, CANot all chocolate is equal. I chose the 80% Fortunato. If you are not used to heavy tasting chocolate, I would recommend choosing something a little smoother, the 70% was rich and sweet with a little bite, but not much. The Fortunato was rich, a little bitter, with a hint of sweetness. It was also bold. I like the bitterness of chocolate. I was the kid dipping my fingers into the cacao before it was sweetened when my grandmother was teaching me about how to make chocolate. My relatives would try to warn me not to taste it, but I couldn’t keep my fingers away. As I learn more about the finesse of cacao, I’ve learned that’s the way I like my chocolate.

On to the drink choices. I was very amazed. They ranged from Americano’s to Mocha’s, Latte’s to pour overs. I’m a mocha kind of person, so chose a Costa Rican coffee bean with the Fortunato cacao. Not disappointed. Both baristas were excited to have me tasting and talking about chocolate. At one point Eunice exclaimed, “You know your chocolate.”

ChocxoAnd I do. A little. As I visit more chocolate houses (read this post on my sojourn in Santa Fe), I progress in my knowledge of both the bean and the nuance. It is a pleasant journey for a food blogger: to be in search of the best chocolate available, closest to the origins of the beans.

Share with us your finds of tasty chocolate and coffee drinks. I love artisan drinks and the funkiest coffee houses. Photos of establishment signs are encouraged. Menus, artwork, and more just @kitchenshaman on all the social media channels, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook with a clever coffee hashtag.