See how chocolate is made at Richmond-based ChocXO cafe

Finished chocolates in the store at the ChocXO Chocolate Café.

Wade Pugh and Richard Foley in the Richmond ChocXO Chocolate Café.

The chocolate factory at ChocXO Chocolate Café in Richmond.

Roasting the cacao beans.

Winnowing removes the shell, creating cacao nibs.

The cacao nibs are ground into paste.

Refining the chocolate.

Making chocolates in a mould.

Coatings made from fine layers of cocoa butter.

The finished chocolates.

Looking into the lab.

Comparing the taste of chocolate made with beans imported from Ecuador and Los Rios.

The ChocXO Chocolate Café.

At ChocXO, the coffee and chocolate start with beans roasted on-site

For 30 years, Vancouver expat Richard Foley imported fine chocolate to California and distributed it to chocolatiers around the world. One of his customers was Wade Pugh, who made custom chocolates for the hospitality industry through his company Chewter’s Chocolates on Horseshoe Way in Richmond. Now the two have combined to open bean-to-bar ChocXO Chocolate Cafés, launching December 6 in both Richmond and California.

“It became clear that one thing we had to do was make the chocolate ourselves from the cacao bean,” says Foley. Since Pugh already had a factory that could produce and package finished chocolates, Foley set up a factory in California to make chocolate from beans on a large scale. It produces about a ton of chocolate each day, which is shipped north to Richmond to be turned into finished chocolates. The chocolates are sold at the three ChocXO cafés: one in Richmond, the others in California.

Foley had lab-scale equipment in California for showing chefs and pastry professionals how a small batch of chocolate is made from cacao beans. The lab equipment is now at the Richmond ChocXO, where visitors can observe the process, from roasting cacao beans to finished chocolates, and sample shots of liquid chocolate made from cacao beans from different areas of Central and South America. Each day, the Richmond lab can produce 30 or 40 kilograms of chocolate, which is turned into chocolate bars, truffles, bark and hot drinks that are sold in the café along with chocolate drinks and coffee made from beans roasted on-site.