Have you ever traveled the lush rainforests of the equator? Or immersed yourself in the vibrant sea of greens that drench the countries of Ghana, Costa Rica, or the Island of Borneo? Well the truth is, some may never see these tropical havens. But that doesn’t mean you can’t experience these places without leaving the comfort of your own home.
Enter Choctál, a gourmet ice-cream with a passion for single-origin flavors. “It’s the same idea as coffee and wine,” says Choctál partner Nancy Hytone-Leb. “These flavors represent the best of every region, reflecting the unique geography of each location.”
The idea of single origin ice cream was first launched in 2008 by the company’s original founder. However, “the introduction of a premium product in the height of the recession was ahead of it’s time,” recounts Nancy. Along with her husband Michael, the couple purchased the Choctál brand in 2013 and relaunched it in 2014. “It’s not as strange of a concept as it was 2 years ago, companies like Starbucks really help with marketing!”
The company’s distinctive name pays homage to indigenous cultures long-standing reverence of the cacao plant. Once regarded as a “food of the gods,” cacao was central to the sacred rituals of the Aztec and Mayan empires. This drink, called Xocolatl or Chocotal, inspired the name Choctál.
Striving to establish one-on-one relationships with cocoa and vanilla farmers across the world, Choctál prides itself on its direct trade practices. “We look for suppliers that match our corporate mission and values,” explains Nancy, whose commitment to social responsibility and transparency extends beyond their direct sourcing methods. A member of 1% for the plant, the company has pledged to give back 1% of its annual sales to the eight countries they do business with.
Each local variety of cocoa or vanilla exhibits their own delicious nuances, providing the ice creams with richer, more intense flavor notes. Take the Dominican Chocolate which uses cocoa from the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. With an aromatic, dark chocolate flavor profile the ice cream’s flavor notes are described as a “subtle aromatic dark chocolate flavor, complemented by wisps of clove and nutmeg on its finish.”
Or dip into the Madagascar Vanilla, hailed to be one of the finest sources of vanilla beans in the world, it’s described as “elegant, smooth and intensely creamy.” The flavor notes paint a vivid picture, stating that “this ice cream combines pure Bourbon vanilla with flakes of vanilla beans. Its rich, complex and long-lasting vanilla has a deep, buttery flavor that is utterly seductive.”
Choctál’s most exciting offering is probably the different flavor tours. Ranging from a chocolate or vanilla tour, a packaged deal of all of their cocoa or vanilla origins, or their Latin, Island, African and even world tours, you can taste flavor profiles in one pint or four-ounce cup offerings. This allows different tasting parties that let you to taste the world in one sitting.
Choctal is testing out chocolate and vanilla dessert flights at restaurants near the company’s headquarters in Pasadena, California. You can indulge in this treat at the Arroyo Chop House in Pasadena, or the City-Club in Los Angeles where you get your ice-cream on a ceramic dish with the origins printed on the directly on the plate.