Divine Chocolate: The Chocolate Goddess Takes a Trip to San Francisco’s TCHO Chocolate Factory

Heaven and earth rejoice at the news, for at long last the most perfect and delicious chocolate fit for the god and goddess in all of us, is now being created.  A trip to the TCHO Chocolate Factory in San Francisco has yielded a most delectable discovery. TCHO is cutting edge chocolate manufacturing company that has the intellect to achieve the ultimate end result in tantalizing taste and silky mouth feel of ideal chocolate; this is accomplished by overseeing the journey of its chocolate production from beginning to end.

TCHO claims that they are obsessed with every aspect of making the most flavorful and flawless chocolate, and to that end, they have considered every minute detail.  In the past many chocolate manufacturers just purchased unrefined chocolate beans or paste without much regard for their origination and taste.  Intelligently, TCHO has taken charge of the chocolate bean from it gestational stages to the end product including packaging and wrapping.

It is we who are reaping the rewards of the dreams of the co-founders of TCHO, Timothy Childs and Karl Bittong, for the most flavorful chocolate achieved without any flavor additives.  Add the sourcing specialist John Kehoe to the expertise of these passionate chocolate makers and the lead team is in place.

Starting at the ground level the TCHO officers hold true to noble values by first insuring there is no slavery involved in the production of their cocoa beans.  Their philosophy is to instill a sense of pride in their growers by treating them fairly and educating them in their field.  Most cacao tree growers have never tasted chocolate as a finished product and so never realized the flavor goal being sought after.  They teach the farmers from the inception of the process about how the cacao trees should be planted, fertilized, and cultivated. Add to this training on when the pods should be picked and how the beans fermented and dried, yields them top notch results.

Timothy Child’s flawless palette combined his knowledge of cutting edge  technology, help him pick and groom beans from cacao farms in different parts of the world that will give TCHO their four distinct dark chocolate bar flavors from their first collection BETA 1.  These include a ‘Chocolatey’ bar which possesses an intense dark and rich flavor, a ‘Nutty’ bar that whispers of caramel undertones, a ‘Fruity” bar that has notes of black cherry and raspberry, and lastly a ‘Citrus’ bar which implies hints of orange and lemon.

There is also much to be said of the many other steps that hone the roasted beans to make TCHO’s silky smooth chocolate end product. The beans are winnowed to remove the shells and then ground with a gentle heat and pressure into a liquid state which is called cocoa liquor, although it is non- alcoholic.  It is cooled into paste-like blocks and is shipped to its final production destination at the TCHO chocolate factory.

Now enters the expertise co-founder Karl Bittong a man with a wealth of experience in chocolate manufacturing.  After 42 years in the business, Mr. Bittong designed and helped build a state of the art factory along the waterfront at Pier 17 San Francisco. Perfect planning, temperature and timing in all his machines render chocolate products that are beyond a doubt, a chocolate product that are a  21st century art and science collaboration.

It is here at the factory that the chocolate paste is then refined and conched for several hours or even days in Mr. Bittong’s carefully calibrated machine.  Conching is the all- important step where the blended ingredients are swirled and folded to remove excess moisture and organic acids. Proper conching defines the desired end flavor, and at TCHO the conching process is carefully timed for beans of different origination to make sure the optimum flavor for each is produced.

Just like diamonds, chocolate has a similar crystalline lattice structure, although is even more complex than the gems.  This arrangement of molecules is what gives chocolate its glossy sheen and causes the ‘snap’ sound when a piece is broken off.  To achieve this perfect crystalline alignment, chocolate must go through a tempering process where the molten liquid’s temperature is raised and lowered more than once, while still keeping it agitated.

The chocolate is then deposited into bar shaped molds and vibrated so all the air bubbles are eliminated.  Following this the bars are cooled and hardened in a cooling tunnel appropriately timed for each flavor. Lastly before marketing the chocolate is removed from the molds and is wrapped and packaged in colors coordinated with the flavors and embellished with an exciting algorithmic metallic design.

TCHO is available online.  Try a bar with suits your taste or try them all - with no oils or extract additives, the pure notes of the chocolate itself sing with the flavor intrinsic to the chocolate beans.  TCHO has taken chocolate making into the new millennium and given The Chocolate Goddess a taste of divine chocolate flavors as they should be.

For more information on TCHO, please visit their website at  http://www.tcho.com/

-Barbara Esatto, The Chocolate Goddess