Posted by: Bethany Davis | May 2, 2012

San Fran: TCHO Chocolate (part 2 of 5)

After a full morning biking the Golden Gate Bridge, we stopped for a 1.5 hour tour of TCHO – the only chocolate factory that makes chocolate in San Francisco. It’s named after the phonetic spelling of Chocolate, and tcho is pronounced like the beginning of the word “chocolate.”

What happens when techies decide to make chocolate? Well, you get an innovative product  and staff striving to be  the best in the world. (In fact, they even created an iphone app to regulate their machines!)

Located on Pier 17, their factory machines were discovered in Liepzig, Germany, and shipped to the bay. But the chocolate making starts long before that — the founders identified the best cacao beans they could and assisted the farmers in better growing and roasting processes. Some of the farmers had never tasted the finished product — the chocolate that came from their beans. So, the founders made this a reality for the workers. Pretty neat, eh?

Our tour started with an educational overview of the company, factory, and chocolate making process. This is serious chocolate, people! We watched a longer version of the video below. Next, our tour guide took us through the factory itself. Looking  around, we noticed that most of the workers were female. Why? Because women have a slightly lower body temperature than men, meaning they can handle chocolate for longer periods of time. Wow!

Our last stop was the tasting room. We were instructed how to test the quality and taste of a morsel. TCHO discovered how to isolate and separate the natural flavors of the cacao (rather than artificially inserting flavors into the chocolate). The result is six different “flavors” of chocolate represented on their flavor wheel. My favorite? The fruity!

Experiencing the tasting room felt a little like Willy Wonka (minus the chocolate river and the snozzleberry wallpaper). Everyone named aloud the flavors they personally tasted of each sample. The room was filled with faces of deep contemplation and pleasure.

After the tour, we stopped to talk to our guide about his love for chocolate and what brought him to work at TCHO. Yes, he needed a job, but mostly it was for the innovation in the chocolate business. He said “I probably shouldn’t be doing this, but…” and brought us a little piece of lavender chocolate ganache. O my… it was SO good and not to be found on the menu. Let’s just call it some undercover beta testing. 🙂

On the way out, we shared a TCHO shot, which is a shot of hot chocolate. Heavenly!

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