Monday, November 10, 2008

TCHO "Beta" Store Now Open

"Single origin" is the phrase of choice for most fine chocolate makers right now, but not for TCHO. TCHO, founded by Timothy Childs of Wired Magazine, aims to be flavor-driven. This is good news for the average chocolate enthusiast who walks into a store like Fog City News and is overwhelmed by eight different varieties of Michel Cluizel plantation bars. They're all the same cacao percentage; how do you know which one to choose?

TCHO's 50 gram tablets (all 70% cacao) are now available in "chocolatey," "fruity," "nutty" and "citrus." The beans come Ghana, Peru and Madagasgar (for now) and are processed right in TCHO's Pier 17 facility. Since Ghirardelli and Guittard have moved East and South, TCHO is actually the only bean-to-bar chocolate factory in San Francisco. Like most small batch American chocolate makers, TCHO says they are committed to working closely with cacao growers to grow the best possible beans while raising their income for the long-terms. That all sounds very good, but you're probably wondering - how is the chocolate?

Customers on my Chocolate and Wine Tour have been loving the "chocolatey" variety, one which TCHO has had ample time to perfect as consumers emailed in their feedback to A nice democratic touch, and I can't help but wonder what the uber-secretive Valhrona would think! While "fruity" was not to my liking, I've been enjoying the "citrus" variety that just came out a few weeks ago. It makes for an interesting comparison to Scharffen Berger, whose signature bars have citrus flavors. For several months now TCHO has been selling the bars online only ($5 apiece), but the big news as of last week is the new "beta store" at Pier 17.

Pier 17 is not particularly close to anything, so think of it as a destination chocolate shop. The tiny office-like space sells all the TCHO bars (now available in a snazzy orange and gold packaging), and cute, simple t-shirts designed to advertise your personal flavor preference. As in "I am chocolatey." Soon they will be selling coffee (Blue Bottle) and hot chocolate drinks as well. The best part for all Gourmet Walks customers is that our new Chocolate Lover Card entitles you to a 10% discount. Sample TCHO, and we'd love to hear what you think!

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