Bean to Bar Chocolate Maker: Cao Chocolates
Bean to Bar Chocolate Maker Location: Miami, Florida
Website: Cao Chocolates
Date Established: 2009
Ingredients Used: 2 - Cacao Beans, Cane Sugar
Organic: Some beans are and some beans aren't
Allergy Information: Manufactured on shared equipment that also processes milk, peanuts, tree nuts, soy products, eggs
Cao Chocolates was founded in 2009 after owner and chocolate maker Ricardo Trillos had a life-changing event and was laid off from his position as an accountant. He then turned his hobby and sweet obsession of chocolates into a business, and started Cao Chocolates.
Ricardo moved to the US from Venezuela in 2004, looking for new opportunities to grow both personally and professionally. Ricardo explained during our interview, "As an accountant by trade, my professional life quickly flourished, and I was soon comfortably settling in my new South Florida home. Meanwhile, my conscience kept reminding me of my lack of personal fulfillment, and not before too long, my yearning and stewing passion for the rich, succulent chocolate of Venezuela sparked my inner chocolatier."
After years of loving everything about chocolates, Ricardo's passion turned into more than just a hobby where he purchased books and attended chocolate-making classes available in the area. Accountant by day and chocolate-maker by night and on weekends was how Ricardo spend most of his time, until that life-changing event happened. He then decided to take his hobby to another level. It was time for him to finally make his dream a reality.
Ricardo only uses single-origin cacao beans. He sources his cacao beans directly from small farmers around the world to ensure that farmers receive a fair price, allows them to invest in techniques that bring out the flavors of the region, and strictly prohibits slave and child labor.
The first Cao Chocolates Atelier opened its doors in October 2012 with a returning customer ratio over 90%. That led Ricardo and his company to be featured as the only Florida business featured in the Small Business Saturday campaign from American Express in 2013.
As Ricardo is a passionate advocate for supporting local businesses, he uses all his resources from local businesses in South Florida and other regions in the US. That is Cao Chocolates’ way of supporting his community. With a focus on giving back to the community, Cao Chocolates selects different local and nationwide organizations to donate percentages of its sales to.
“Chocolate is our passion, not only our business” Ricardo says. He believes that his business is lucky to have great people supporting and inspiring them to create great chocolates. Everyone who knows them only knows that this is only the beginning of their dream.