For love of chocolate

Lachoco Latera artisanal chocolates in Bogotá
Lachoco Latera artisanal chocolates in Bogotá

Lachoco Latera is a small venue in La Macarena, distilled from the franticness that the city induces and where you can savor decadent chocolate and take some time out for yourself. The name takes its cue from Colombian children’s rhymes. Its lightheartedness and simplicity points to a grand philosophy of life: that you can enjoy even the simplest of things, whether it’s a reassuring cup of hot chocolate, taking time to read a paperback or just spending time with friends.

Marcela Portela is the mastermind behind the chocolate shop and café. All her life has been imbued with chocolate. She grew up with the dark matter when she was showered by the chocolates that her mother brought back from across the world. After writing a dissertation on the anthropological aspects of chocolate at the Universidad Externado, and studying the crafts of chocolatiers in Argentina, Marcela returned to show everyone what good chocolate could be.

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Handmade, artisan chocolates with imaginative flavours are hard to find in Bogotá, but at Lachoco Latera, the range of irresistible temptations takes a toll on the indecisive one´s indecisive side. Should I go for the experimental coriander or my solid favourite dark chocolate and nuts? These unique flavours are inspired by Marcela’s daily life and chosen for their Colombian reference.

Take the lemon and coconut milk chocolate for example. It is inspired by the coconut lemonade that is widely consumed on the northern coast. Or you have a sabajón de feijoa, with chocolate made with the liquor of an exotic green fruit that inhabits the highlands of the Boyacá department. Each piece of chocolate is a meal in itself. The mango and green pepper dark chocolate, a curious looking camouflage-patterned little stub, first engulfs you, and then with the mango’s freshness rinses your palate just like the sorbet that interludes a French dinner, before finishing with a surprise spicy kick.

All the chocolates are made from natural ingredients. Since the flavours have been thoughtfully designed by Marcela, the chocolates have become an extension of her personality. Eating these chocolates gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling that someone is reaching out to caress your heart. To avoid the dilemma of choice, it’s best to go with a group of friends to share the love.

“Chocolate is such a magical thing. It’s something that you can share with your loved ones for the special moments. But it can also be shared among your friends just because it’s such a great and happy thing,” says Marcela. At Lachoco, you’ll see that most people go for a cup of hot chocolate. Chocolate-drinking is a tradition deeply engrained in the consciousness of Colombians and may at times shock a visiting European, when Colombians dunk cheese into the frothy concoction.

While the days of enjoying onces (elevenses) may be on the way out, given the pressures of keeping a job, Lachoco wants to bring back this tradition. Served the “Colombian way” with semi-hard cheese and almojabanas (sweet corn bread) Lachoco’s hot chocolate is not as sickly sweet as the ones served up along the Carrera Septima. Apart from the standard chocolate completo, you have numerous other choices: cremoso, cinnamon and clove, the unusual mint and even ginger. The light and fluffy roll with a crusty skin that comes fresh from the oven is more commonly found in Europe than in Colombia.

Along with tourists, the cafe is filled with bohemian types of all ages. They seem to have made Lachoco a regular hangout, like a local pub. “It’s a place that was born out of our love,” says Rafael, Marcela’s partner. Filled with so much love and passion, it’s a warming place to bring your loved ones to share your appreciation for each other and for life.

With soft music and a colourful interior decorated by Colombian designer Violeta Iris, Lachoco is a sanctuary for spending a Sunday afternoon rechargeing your batteries after visiting La Macarena’s many art galleries and shops. You can also get some reading inspiration from a large selection of literature Rafael has collected from well-known city publishers. With two children keeping them on their toes, Rafael and Marcela have also stocked their café bookshelves with children’s books. Enjoy your time at Lachoco, and for that special someone, ask for the cherry dark truffle!

Read more of Jessica’s work:

Carrera 4 A No. 26B – 12 

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