Originally published in Taos News
Love and chocolate came to Javier Abad’s life at the same time.
Abad, a native of the Basque Country, was working in Merida, Venezuela, when he met Taoseña Debi Vincent in 2002. Vincent had her own artisan chocolate company which she had started at age nineteen, when she was awarded an internship in Chocolates El Rey.
They fell in love and got married.
“Debi taught me everything about the business,” Abad said. “From 2003 to 2008 we worked together and grew a company that we called Chocolates La Mucuy.”
Abad’s father-in-law, Larry Vincent, born and raised in Taos, had spent around thirty years working at Los Andes University in Merida. By 2008 he came back to Taos to take care of his mother, Jenny Vincent, the famous folk singer and lifelong human rights activist, who was 95 at that time.
“Debi and I had the opportunity to sell the company,” said Abad, “so we did that and moved to Taos in November 2008 to help take care of Jenny. She is now living in the Retirement Village. She is 101 years old, yet every Tuesday, at 11 a.m., she leads a lively jam session with other remarkable musicians.”
Movies and chocolate
Abad attended the International Film School in San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba. He worked in the film industry there, in Venezuela and later in New Mexico.
“I’ve been a member of the union Local 480 as a film technician, but by the end of 2011 work in the film industry hit a slow period here,” he said. “Debi and I decided to start Casachokolá in 2012. We joined a partnership with Golightly Cashmere to create C+C (Chocolate + Cashmere). In August 2014 we left the partnership to better grow our own company.”
House of chocolate
The name Casachokolá combines the words casa (house) and chokolá.
“We decided to use ‘casa’ because we are a family business,” said Abad, “together with the way ‘chocolate’ is pronounced in Spanish—though here it is taken from the French word chocolat.”
Where to buy Casachokolá products
Abad and his wife plan to eventually acquire a store to sell their products directly to clients but, for the time being, they distribute through retailers.
In Taos they sell their products in Garden and Soul, Magpie Gallery, Cid’s, Taos Market, Sol Food Market, and Molly’s Sweet Escape in Taos Ski Valley.
In Santa Fe they are sold in O’hori café (both locations), Kaune’s Neighborhood Market, and Santa Fe Olive Oil.
“Right now we are customizing some products, like chocolate bars, for our markets,” Abad said. “We are working with an amazing selection of olive oils for Santa Fe Olive Oil and Balsamic Company.”
A rewarding profession
Abad said that he and his wife were motivated to open their chocolate factory again because, first of all, they have always loved chocolates and secondly, they consider the production of handmade artisan chocolate “a very rewarding profession.”
“We admire the power of the cocoa bean,” he said, “the wonderful act of sharing it and the infinite combinations you can create (for example, Casachokolá just introduced our dark chocolate goat cheese bonbon in Taos and Santa Fe) and the priceless reactions you see in people when you offer them a piece of chocolate. It’s a great feeling when you hear someone saying ‘hmmm’! Then we know we are doing something good.”
Casachokolá products draw inspiration from the multicultural nature of its owners.
“We blend the tastes and scents of the Mediterranean and Cantabric seas, the powerful fruity flavors with the Latin-American cocoa bean and the richness of New Mexico flavors,” Abad said. “We create handmade artisan chocolates —no preservatives, no additives— using chocolate from Venezuela, Ecuador and Santo Domingo and organic local ingredients.”
Among their most popular products are bonbons with ganache fillings and a variety of flavors like sea salt caramel, dark caramel, Earl Gray, Greek olive oil, rosemary, lime and basil, raspberry-green chile, lavender-ginger, coffee cream, coconut cream, goat cheese, passion fruit and many more.
“We also make chocolate bars with sea salt almond, olive oil, coffee, and hazelnut,” Abad said. “They are organic and soy and lecithin free.”
Dan Wardlow is among Abad’s most enthusiastic clients.
“When Joe and I got married, Javier made a four-chocolate sample for every guest—and we had about ninety people for dinner,” he said. “For us and our wedding officiant, he made a twelve-chocolate sampler. Everybody loved the chocolates. No one ‘accidentally’ left theirs behind! Javier is a really talented chocolatier with innovative flavors and recipes.”
Carrie Field considers Abad’s chocolates “artful works of love.”
“I began eating them around a year ago and I loved them,” she said. “I like to give them as gifts and every once in a while, to give them to myself as a treat. My favorite is the ginger and lavender combination bonbon.”
“Casachokolá would like to thank the Taos community for their support and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,” said Abad.
To buy Casachokolá products visit the stores mention above, call 575 779 6174 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. They offer home delivery in Taos.