I received my very own golden ticket, and was invited to receive a personal tour at TCHO! TCHO, pronounced “Cho”, is an award-winning and fully plant-based chocolate company located in Berkley, California.
Recognizing environmental impact, TCHO converted to an all plant-based company in 2023. TCHO Chocolate is not only 100% plant-based, but Fair Trade Certified, Certified B-Corporation, Certified Organic, and non-GMO. TCHO, as a B-certified corporation, ensures transparency at every level – from sourcing to practices, and now, this even includes their factory!
Visit the TCHO factory in Berkeley, and see exactly how their chocolate is made! Learn how TCHO ethically sources their cacao beans and all about their Flavor Labs and Source Program around the world, where they partner with cooperatives at the origin. TCHO partners with their cacao farmers and scientists worldwide, offering sensory analysis training, in-house flavor labs, fermentation centers, and even full cacao research buildings. Most cacao farmers have never tasted chocolate, let alone chocolate made from their own beans! In offering these opportunities to the communities that grow and harvest cacao, TCHO really sets itself apart.
My tour was hosted by TCHO’s lovely social media manager Alana, and I had the opportunity to meet some of the factory staff (one of which was from Modesto) and even TCHO’s new CEO Takayuki Date! Before the tour, Alana and I sat down for a short presentation on TCHO’s process from source to the lab, and even the life cycle of the cacao plant- which let me just say, is absolutely magical! Next, we put on our lab coats, face coverings, and TCHO orange hair nets to begin our tour.
I had the opportunity to visit TCHO on the first day of creating their new bite-size squares, so production was a little different than usual. I saw the storage area for all their yummy ingredients, Dark Duo deposited into molds, and Holy Fudge being packaged. I also saw the chocolate being refined, conched, and tempered, but my favorite thing was the modernized version of the I Love Lucy conveyor belt! Seeing each little bite-sized Holy Fudge piece slide by on its way to being packaged was just too fun! Lastly, we saw TCHO variety boxes being packaged, and headed to the flavor lab!
The flavor lab is where partners and farmers can make chocolate bars immediately at the source. In Berkely’s Flavor Lab, we caught TCHO CEO working on some hand-made creations, and I saw the simple tools they use for the process. Things like hairdryers and microwaves, so partners worldwide can easily access the same equipment and create a shared sensory experience.
We ended the tour with a TCHO tasting! We tasted Holy Fudge, Born Fruity, Dark Duo, Oat My Gawd, Toffee Time, and roasted cacao nibs. Alana went over the different flavor profiles of each variety, and I was surprised to find that even after being processed the exact same way, chocolate can taste entirely different, simply depending on the country of origin! Holy Fudge and Born Fruity are made using the same recipe but use cacao sourced from different places, resulting in two different flavor profiles. Wild!
I of course took some chocolate home for a full taste test and review, so stick around for that post coming up!
If you’d like to take your very own TCHO Factory Tour, tickets are available at $15 on their website, and you can even schedule group tours! TCHO is proud to be a California Bay Area company and wants to share their vision and values with us all.
Do you think you’d make it out alive on TCHO’s factory tour? I did!