The Sweet Life

by Katie Cook

You’ll learn about the TCHO flavor wheel and chocolate production on TCHO’s factory tour.

Much like wine tasting, true connoisseurs know the proper way to taste chocolate. I love chocolate, but I wouldn’t consider myself a connoisseur, until now. The folks at TCHO (pronounced choh) changed that. TCHO’s store and factory is located on Pier 17 (Embarcadero at Green St.) and twice daily they offer free tours of the factory complete with chocolate tasting and an educational lecture.

This is San Francisco’s Willie Wonka adventure. The tour begins with a video and PowerPoint presentation about the growth and harvest of the cocoa pod, the fermentation process, and the chocolate production process. If you’re into agriculture, science, or cooking you’ll find this presentation extremely interesting. Next, everyone dons hairnets and takes a tour of the factory. When I visited, the workers were on vacation, but usually the plant is in operation for the tour. After the tour came my favorite part- the tastings. We sniffed, snapped, and tasted our way through the four types of dark chocolate (chocolatey, fruity, nutty, and citrus) and the two types of milk chocolate (both were melt in your mouth delicious).

Each type of chocolate has a distinctly different taste. TCHO doesn’t use any additives in their chocolate; the flavoring depends on the beans alone. For example, the fruity chocolate doesn’t contain any fruit or fruit juice. (However, I did purchase some sinfully delicious dried mango dipped in fruity chocolate.) How this is possible was previously explained to us in the chocolate lecture.

As a thank you for participating in the tour, TCHO offers 10% off items purchased in their store. They have some cute chocolate gift boxes along with bars of chocolate, but I was most excited for their blue bottle coffee bar. It was here that I had the best mocha of my life. Made with blue bottle coffee and TCHO chocolate this mocha was smooth, rich, and oh so good that it satisfied my chocolate cravings for three whole days. The store and coffee bar are open to the public Monday-Friday from 9am-5:30pm and on Saturday and Sunday from 10am-5:30pm.

TCHO offers daily tours at 10:30am and 2pm. Reserve your spot on the tour online.

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