Provo resident offers Taste of the good life with new chocolate factory, store

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This rendering shows the retail location Taste, which will sell fine foods and Coleman & Davis Artisan Chocolates. Taste is set to open in June on University Avenue in Provo.

This rendering shows the retail location Taste, which will sell fine foods and Coleman & Davis Artisan Chocolates. Taste is set to open in June on University Avenue in Provo. (Photo courtesy Phil Davis)

There’s a new chocolate factory coming to Provo, and you won’t need a Golden Ticket to enter. But it’s fair to say that owner Phil Davis is every bit as passionate about chocolate as the candy man portrayed in the 1971 movie “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.” Think Gene Wilder’s Wonka-y exuberance, if Gene Wilder looked a whole lot more like Brad Pitt.

Davis, a 41-year-old single Provo resident, hopes that Coleman & Davis Artisan Chocolate will be the premier maker of chocolate. Anywhere. In. The. World. Move over, France and Switzerland. Davis and his business partners want to put Provo on the chocolate-making map.

To do so, they’ve purchased a 6,000-square-foot space on University Avenue in Provo that will house the chocolate factory (coming in the fall) and an adjoining retail location, Taste. Taste is scheduled to open in May or early June and will sell imported cheeses, high-end balsamic vinegars and, according to Davis, “the world’s finest olive oils of such a superlative quality that they are best sampled from a shot glass.” Most importantly, Taste will sell the company’s chocolates.

“At the level it is today, the world of high-end chocolate has only existed since 2004. It’s still being defined,” said Davis. “I intend to take chocolate to the next level, in a way that’s never been done before. Coleman & Davis Artisan Chocolate is destined to become the world’s finest chocolate manufacturer.”

Phil Davis

Phil Davis is opening a new artisan chocolate retail store in Provo with business partners the Colemans. (Photo courtesy Phil Davis)

Never halfway

If that sounds wildly ambitious, friends and family say that’s Phil being Phil, and that he just might do it. He’s already co-founded and sold a successful commodities futures fund, the U.S. Commodity Fund and Firestorm Group, a venture that’s given him the financial freedom to focus full-time on chocolate.

“Phil doesn’t do anything halfway,” said Morgan Coleman. He and his wife, Char, and his parents, Michael and Jackie Coleman, are business partners with Davis.

“When Phil has an interest in something, he learns all he can about it and becomes an expert in it,” said Morgan Coleman. “Then he shares it with everyone he can.”

Chocolate has been a lifelong passion for Davis, who first read an article about acceptable ingredients at age 8.

“I immediately went out and acquired every chocolate that I could get my hands on and started ordering and ranking,” he said.

By age 17, he was hosting cheese and dealcoholized wine tastings for friends, and chocolate tastings by age 26.  In search of the perfect cacoa bean, he’s done everything from attend the Parisian Salon du Chocolat to negotiate with farmers deep in the Venezuelan jungles.

Along the way, Davis served a proselytizing mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Brigham Young University in 1998 with a degree in political science. He spent three years with IBM, working his way up through technical writing, marketing and product design and development before co-founding the commodities futures fund.

Tasting the great outdoors

Besides chocolate, Davis loves fine foods. He can cook a meal better than anything you’d find at a restaurant, said his sister, 40-year-old Provo resident Stephanie Lerman. Davis also loves all kinds of intense sports — including ice climbing, mountaineering, trail running, rock crawling and cycling.

Sometimes, his passion for food and the outdoors overlap, as when Davis is out cycling and stops to taste a wildflower or mushroom, said biking buddy Dan Larson, a 35-year-old Provo resident.

Davis has an incredible palate and wants to teach others to appreciate the richness and wonder of food, Larson said. At Davis’ chocolate tastings, which he often hosts in small groups at someone’s home, he’ll teach attendees to smell the dark chocolate, rub it with their fingers to warm it up, and then hold it in their mouths for a minute or two to fully appreciate the different flavor notes. It’s an experience Utah County residents will be able to have soon at Taste.

“How one tastes chocolate is as important as what one is tasting. At Taste, we will teach the chocolate novice and most ardent chocolate enthusiast how to experience chocolate at a new level,” said Davis.  “Proper technique lays bare the weaknesses of poor chocolate and makes the greatness of the best chocolate accessible and discernible,” said Davis.

One bar, one morsel, one bite at a time.

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Elyssa Andrus has worked as a journalist for 14 years, most recently as the lifestyle editor at the Daily Herald newspaper in Provo. She is a contributor to the KSL-TV show "Studio 5" and is co-author of the book "Happy Homemaking" (Cedar Fort, 2012) with Natalie Hollingshead. She lives with her husband and four young children in Utah Valley.

8 Comments

  1. Suzan Reply

    Can’t wait! So that we can get the fastest route to the store planned out, exactly where on University Ave will Taste be found?

  2. KBA Reply

    I hope this makes it. The Chocolate Mousse that was located about a block way from this location (also on University Ave) failed due in part to high prices. It seems that the most successful places cater to a student budget and I’m not sure gourmet chocolate can do that.

  3. Leslie Craig Reply

    Yahooo! I love that we have a store dedicated to my favorite food group ! I give Davis a triple thumbs up.

  4. Zed H Reply

    I’m not sure I understand. He’s eaten a lot of chocolate and he claims he “is destined to become the world’s finest chocolate manufacturer” and “I intend to take chocolate to the next level, in a way that’s never been done before” but it doesn’t say anywhere that he has actually created a bar before. Does he think he’s magic because there are a lot of bad bars out there from people who intended to do the same. He may have a good taster, but he has to prove he can make something that tastes good.

  5. Carol Reply

    Are you open yet? Looking forward to this!!!! Need to bring guests here in august or we’ll have to go to SLC for oil and vinegar. So hoping that we get to come here!!!

  6. Vanessa Reply

    I am THRILLED at the idea of this. Especially the great oils and vinegars! I live just a block away! I love to cook and often have to go to Salt Lake to access better quality supplies. I think the marketing will be huge in making this venture a success. This part of Provo does have a large student population which doesn’t have the funds for fine foods. I have been disappointed to see other establishments offering finer selections of food shut down. However, since it was mentioned in the comment above, the prices at the Chocolate Mousse were a non issue for me. What was a turn off was the gross old musty building smell that hit me the moment I walked through the door. It is very difficult to sell food, regardless of how delicious it is, in a building that has an off putting smell. In using an old building for food, this issue needs to be taken seriously. BEST OF LUCK! I CAN’T WAIT!

  7. Lois Sucher Reply

    Loved our date night to Taste tonight! Phil Davis was amazing. Thanks for a delightful evening of experiencing all the senses in flavors, aromas and the incredible chocolate factory! Will be a regular visitor!

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