As you enter Raw Xocolat in Brownsville, you will be immersed not only in the smell of the chocolate being created there, but also in the beauty of the shop. With tables at the front, black and white photographs of the owners creating their signature items and several treats that involve chocolate, the healthy chocolate store has a lot to offer.
Five years ago, Jesus Bojorquez started making healthy chocolate as a side job while he finished his university studies. Studying Biomedical Sciences, he knew the product he was bringing to the market had to be healthy so that it could be included in a balanced diet and fulfill his purpose of offering healthy options.
“We started in 2016 and it all started with a gift. My mother-in-law is from Chiapas and she brought me some chocolate from there, I liked it and I fell in love with how natural it was. Since there I’ve been involved with chocolate,” he said.
“When I was studying Biomedical Sciences at the university, I found out that chocolate, cacao, is a super food element and has a lot of benefits for diabetics and those with cardiovascular issues. That’s what really motivated me to start producing this type of chocolate. I don’t think I would be able to sell a chocolate that’s not healthy.”
Bojorquez said in the beginning Raw Xocolat had potential but he didn’t plan for it to become a full-time thing. Along with his family, he was making the items by hand right after receiving the cacao from Mexico and selling it at the Farmer’s Market and other local shops such as 7th and Park. Nowadays, the whole process from beans to bar takes Bojorquez about four days in the store, but back then, without the machines that he uses right now, the process was even longer and more physically demanding.
The local entrepreneur said one of the most important steps is sourcing the beans. Because at the end of the day it is not only about creating a good product, but also it’s about using the ingredients that have those benefits that they are looking for. In the store, he offers drinks such as its signature “Aztec Cacao” —which has single origin dark chocolate, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, black pepper and milk— and also smoothies, bakery items such as lava mars, fudgie brownies, chocolate chips cookies and several other items that range from almonds covered in dark chocolate to coffee beans.
“Right now, I bring cacao from approximately seven countries. I started with Mexico as my first distributor, and right now it continues to be the biggest distributor of cacao for us, but we’ve also had the opportunity to bring cacao from Guatemala, Belize, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Uganda and the Philippines,” Bojorquez said.
When it comes to the name “Raw Xocolat” Bojorquez said it started when he was studying for school and noticed how in in pharmacy everything starts with “RX” which means prescription. He said he started reading about chocolate and saw how chocolate also used to be written with X “Xocolat” and he immediately thought of “Raw Xocolat.” In that moment he decided that this was going to be the name for his business and how he wanted this chocolate to be healthy and with a lot of benefits for the clients.
“When I graduated from college, I had the opportunity to make the choice of becoming a pharmacist or focusing full-time in the chocolate business. I decided to go for the chocolate because it’s what fulfills me the most,” he said.
“I had the opportunity to travel to Amsterdam, Amsterdam is the capital of chocolate production in the world, that’s where I was able to connect with more chocolateros, farmers, to see what they were doing in this industry. I created connections with all this people and gathered ideas to create my own concept for the store.”
Bojorquez said at Raw Xocolat, they not only offer a product but an experience. He said he wanted to offer not only chocolate but also items that can include it such as the pastries covered in chocolate. He said to him, to offer a good experience there needs to be a good product, a drink and a dessert with a clean ambiance and friendly staff.
“Local businesses help the local economy because the money stays within the city. When we buy at big franchises, we never see the faces behind it. It is usually investors who don’t live here,” he said.
“I would like to see a Brownsville where more locals stay. I think sometimes as locals, we are looking for bigger opportunities outside of Brownsville. But if we all help each other, as a community, in a short time we can lift our city up and do a very well job so that Brownsville natives stay here, instead of looking somewhere else.”
Raw Xocolat is located at 500 E. Morrison Rd.