From Production to Pairing, Altus Chocolate Does it Right
By Jason “Stub” Stubblefield
Altus Chocolate began innocently enough after Mary Matice watched the movie “Chocolat.” Her explanation of the film to her husband Carl prompted them to attempt making chocolate by hand as an interesting marital hobby, as well as a means to help them connect after work. A little research led to the purchase of one pound of high-quality cocoa beans that would eventually become their first ever batch of chocolate. Carl and Mary carefully roasted, peeled and grinded those cocoa beans by hand, using a traditional Mexican Molcajete (a stone mortar and pestle) into a fine powder from which they produced their very first batch of chocolate. The time consuming task paid off. Not only did the Matices love the finished product, but everyone who tasted their all natural, handmade chocolate was hooked.
Carl and Mary continued making chocolate, falling in love not only with the process of making chocolate by hand, but also with the finished bars. The quality time making chocolate together kept them going until the “marital hobby” they adopted transformed into a small business. By August 2012, they were selling their handmade chocolates at Lynchburg Market. By November of that year, it was clear they needed to expand, so the Matices set up a temporary storefront. In November 2013, they opened their first Altus Chocolate in Lynchburg. In June of this year, they opened their second location in Roanoke.
While the name of the business they created says “chocolate,” the Matices real trade is in passion and purity. Purity of ingredients, purity in business and purity in their relationship with their customers.
You can taste the purity in the chocolate, most of which includes only three ingredients, including milled cocoa powder, cocoa butter and organic cane sugar. Any additions used in specialty chocolates are organic, as well. Altus Chocolate never contains artificial sweeteners or preservatives, which is a hallmark of the Matices dedication to purity.
Carl and Mary see chocolate as a way to connect with each other, their customers, the specific soils from which each of their carefully chosen cocas beans are sourced and the world at large. They are a prime example of a growing “bean-to-bar” chocolate movement, and they carefully consider every ingredient and every step of the chocolate making process. They use only ethically sourced cocoa beans as a means to provide wholesome, worryfree chocolates to their customers.
Carl describes the Matices journey into the world of chocolate as a “journey for our marriage that has deepened our relationship.” A visit to Altus Chocolate for one of their chocolate tastings (14 chocolates) or chocolate and wine pairings (chocolates and truffles paired with three wines) is much the same. It’s a journey through not only different varieties of chocolates, but an education of the process that deepens one’s understanding and relationship to pure, handmade chocolate.
Altus Chocolate offers chocolate bars, chocolate beverages, seasonal truffles, gelato, coffee and lighter menu fare that includes salads and chocolate fondue. Deemed a “chocolate lounge,” the two story space provides a comfortable escape in which to indulge in some of the best chocolate you’ve likely ever tasted. Visit them at 123 Campbell Ave SE in Roanoke.