I've been raving about raw chocolate ever since I first got my hands on it, but it's something that, until recently, I've had to purchase online and in New York City. I always try to emphasize that raw chocolate is the way to go if you're going to eat chocolate for nutrition, as well as taste. And now, I'm finally happy to share that Philadelphia is getting into the raw chocolate game.
"We want to be the Green & Black's of raw chocolate," Juliet Burgh says of Vivo Raw Chocolate.
Locally-produced here in Philadelphia, the brand new handmade raw chocolate company is the brainchild of Burgh, Mackie Root, and Sam DeLuca. Burgh and Root are the founders of Feed Your Power Nutrition, an on-site service at Fusion Crosstraining Gym. Both are graduates of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, where raw chocolate was having its moment, and businesses like Gnosis Chocolate got their roots. DeLuca has a background in food service, sales, and PR, and is excited to bring raw chocolate to a more mainstream market with Vivo.
Vivo got its starts after the fitness-minded chocolate lovers decided to introduce raw chocolate as a "Weight Management. Hearth Health. Antioxidant Rich" product.
Raw chocolate is kept at a lower temperature (under 115 degrees) during the tempering process, to preserve its nutritious properties and benefits, which include hormonal balance and appetite suppression. Vivo tastes less sweet than most raw chocolate brands out there, and has a rich mouthfeel, with a little bit of crunch from the coconut sugar. If you're used to regular dark chocolate, such as Green & Black's, this is a completely different, much more intense bar. And if you're a fan of raw chocolate already? Well, Vivo gets even deeper.
I tried a piece of the chocolate a few hours before dinner and felt a sustained level of energy throughout the evening, as well as a sated appetite.
The Vivo trio will officially launch their brand at a raw chocolate and bourbon "Pop-up Bar" at One Shot Coffee on March 10th from 7-9pm. The chocolate is currently available in Vivo's Online Store and will be sold at One Shot. They hope to offer it at other local shops, as well as Whole Foods, with the goal to expand nationally. In the meantime, they're planning chocolate events and workshops.
The team is currently hard at work developing additional flavors and bars (their current offering is heart-shaped chocolates which were a hit during Valentine's Day). They use Peruvian cacao, cacao butter, and coconut palm sugar in their recipe. Vivo hopes to partner with a Peruvian farm in the future and donate a percentage of sales to charity.
"We'd love to mentor under Brad from Brad's Raw," Burgh adds when discussing their inspirations, along with raw visionary David Wolfe.
When the conversation turns to health hotspots, the trio lists Pure Fare, Sweet Freedom Bakery, and Essene as some of their local haunts. Later, I discover that Burgh makes a special batch of chocolate for herself that contains no sugar, just pure cacao butter and powder. Now that's hardcore.