February 2, 2014 | Posted in:Eating Well

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Welcome to my review of Cao Artisan Chocolate. You might be surprised to see a post about chocolate on a healthy living blog.  To me, healthy eating means everything in moderation.  It also means learning to savor instead of gorge, to notice the complexity of foods and to appreciate the miracle of taste.  I’m excited to share my thoughts about a remarkable tasting experience.

Cao Artisan Chocolate: Online and in Lynchburg, VA.  A Review by Total Lifestyle Management  


A New Taste

It’s not often I eat something that changes the way I think about a food.  So, imagine my surprise when a sample of chocolate at a farmer’s market redefined everything I thought I knew about my favorite confection.

I’ve eaten a lot of food in my life – and I’ve eaten even more chocolate.  A prized food in my childhood home, I used to seek out my grandma’s “secret” stashes and stuff myself silly.  As an adult, I relish in the indulgence of a dark chocolate bar.  I even humor my husband’s love for nearly unsweetened chocolate bars.

But never in my life had I had chocolate like this, the work of Mary and Carl Matice of Cao Artisan Chocolate in Lynchburg, VA.

Cao Artisan Chocolate: Online and in Lynchburg, VA. A Review by Total Lifestyle Management

Chocolate Truffles. Photo courtesy of Cao Artisan Chocolate.

Cao Artisan Chocolate

I’ve never tasted so much taste in chocolate.  Exploding with flavor, eating Cao chocolate is akin to tasting wine.  More than six different types of chocolate bars (and a countless array of truffles) all boast different profiles, so there’s something for everyone; The Peruvian bar surprises the palette with its decidedly tropical profile, transporting you to a lounge chair on the beach. The Sur de Lago is both fruity and peppery at once.  I often save the Bolivian for last, so I can savor the earthy flavors intermingled with sweetness.  The truffles come in too many flavors to list here, like Madagascar Vanilla Bourbon and Aztec.

So what’s the difference?  Other confectioners might buy poor quality cacao beans that leave a bitter taste.  They mask the bitterness with sugar and additives – but not at Cao Artisan Chocolate.  Mary and Carl select the finest beans in the world and then make them into bars, salted caramels or their signature truffles.  Every chocolate is made by hand using only the finest ingredients.

Cao Artisan Chocolate: Online and in Lynchburg, VA. A Review by Total Lifestyle Management

Cacao beans in their husks. The nibs inside the beans are used to make cacao liquor, an ingredient of chocolate. Photo courtesy of Cao Artisan Chocolates.

Healthy Inspiration

While part of Mary and Carl’s inspiration is taste, they also have wellness in mind.  Mary has extensive experience with diabetes and its complications.  Disheartened by the products that pass for food in America, her experiences shaped the way the Matice’s make chocolate.  “Even though we make candy we don’t think of it as that – we think of it as food,” Mary says.  Using quality beans means the chocolate tastes great without being overloaded with sugar.  The cacao bean is, itself, full of flavonoids and antioxidants that are great for your body.  The Cao product line uses a variety of sugars, fruits and spices when they’re necessary.  “If you eat [chocolate] made in the right way, in the right quantity, you’re doing it right,” Mary says.

Cao Artisan Chocolate: Online and in Lynchburg, VA. A Review by Total Lifestyle Management

Artisan chocolate bars. Photo courtesy of Cao Artisan Chocolate.

Just as Cao chocolate is so much more than mass produced chocolate, this local company is so much more than a business.  “Our mission statement is to be a consumer education micro-chocolate factory committed to ethical practices, making quality products from superior cacao and pure ingredients,” says Mary.  “The business is really an extension of me and Carl.  What we value, what we pride, is what we promote.”  For the Matice’s, this means making sure they’re buying quality cacao beans from ethically sound sources instead of sub par beans from farms that don’t provide livable wages or use slave labor.

Where to Find

Cao Artisan Chocolate bars and truffles are available at their Chocolate Lounge in Lynchburg, Virginia, and also for online ordering at http://www.caoartisanchocolates.com/.  Are you a Relay user?  Click here to view a list of Cao items available for delivery via Relay.


  1. Kara
    March 5, 2014

    Leave a Reply

    I’m such a chocolate snob! There’s absolutely no way I can eat junk like Hershey’s or Nestle. Ick. You’re right, the difference between artisan chocolate or even higher quality mass produced chocolate is amazing. The fact that they are local (to you) and fair trade makes it that much better!

    • laurensaglimbene
      March 5, 2014

      Leave a Reply

      Agreed, Kara! I’m really quite addicted to them. I have to say that I’ve tried a lot of artisan chocolates, lately, and they still come out on top! Especially for truffles!!

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