Jesus Bojorquez had a decision to make in moving toward a degree in biomedical science.
Should he continue on a career path toward pharmacy school as he planned after concluding a stint in the U.S. Army?
There was a new pursuit that had caught the Brownsville native’s fancy. It was becoming more than a hobby. Bojorquez was intrigued with the notion of being a chocolatier.
He had more than dabbled in it, making abuelita Mexican chocolate and selling it at area farmers markets. Bojorquez gauged his interests – and his heart – realizing a hobby had become a passion.
“I wanted to do something different,” he said. “I wanted to produce something healthy and that was natural, I want people to experience chocolate.”
At Raw Xocolat in Brownsville, customers are doing just that, enjoying an array of chocolate products made from scratch with the cacao beans that Bojorquez buys from all over the world. It’s Brownsville’s first bean-to-bar chocolate factory.
Bojorquez makes and prepares the bags of chocolate in brown-and-gold bags on the shelves in his back-shop kitchen. The beans he uses come from Haiti, Mexico, the Philippines, Colombia, Guatemala and Belize.
It takes a multi-step process to get to the chocolates in those packages. The raw beans first roast in an oven. Then they are cleaned, grinded and refined in a process that takes three days to complete, with the chocolatier taking measurements throughout to gauge taste and texture.
“It’s a lot of process,” Bojorquez said. “It takes time to make real chocolate.”
Informing About Chocolate
Brownsville’s chocolatier opened his store on retail-busy Morrison Road in north Brownsville in mid-May of this year. Bojorquez did so after being one of the winners of the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation‘s StartUp Texas Pitch Summit.
For Bojorquez and the other winners, it meant $20,000 grants for each new business, with the chocolatier using the funds to purchase new equipment.
“I feel proud of it,” he said of the BCIC award and grant. “It’s rewarding to see hard work pay off.”
Bojorquez wants to use his store to inform his community and market about real chocolate. One key element, he said, is the variety of flavors of chocolate, depending on where the bean originated.
“There’s a misconception that chocolate is just one taste,” he said.
There’s a richness and depth of flavors in the packages of chocolate at Raw Xocolat. The difference in taste between the chocolates of Haiti and the Philippines is evident in sampling the rich brown squares inside the bags. Both are delicious, with the customer favoring a sweeter taste perhaps leaning toward the Philippine variety, and the purer chocolate fan may prefer the one from Haiti.
Variety Of Offerings
Raw Xocolat has more than packages of chocolate from around the world.
It also has a variety of drinks made at the shop. There’s cacao coffee with espresso, and a drink titled “Aztec Cacao,” which includes single origin dark chocolate, turmeric, ginger and cinnamon with steam foam milk. There are teas featuring cacao along with smoothies that include cacao powder, bananas and maple syrup.
Bakery items are in the selection mix as well. Single origin chocolate brownies with Texas pecans are a customer favorite. Cookies with vegan dark chocolate chunks look inviting.
It’s all delicious and cacao chocolate is one of the best antioxidants, lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of diabetes, and containing lots of potassium to help avoid heart disease.
It all brings a smile to the face of Brownsville’s chocolatier in the choice he made to open his own business with products he believes will help the community.
“We should all be supportive of locally owned businesses,” Bojorquez said. “The question we have to ask ourselves as business owners is ‘what makes you different?'”
That question has been answered at Raw Xocolat.