Sunday, May 31, 2015

Tcho Chocolate

Tcho Chocolate - visited factory store on March 3, 2014
I’ve had these pictures for well over a year but never got around to blogging them until now. My niece and I had spent a day in San Francisco and part of our 10+ miles of walking around the city included stumbling upon the warehouse building at the pier that housed Tcho Chocolate’s factory store. I’d heard of Tcho Chocolate before this but even if I hadn’t, let’s face it, I would have wanted to go in anyway.
There were industrial-looking wire shelves that held an assortment of various Tcho Chocolate products available for purchase, a little table where you could try out some samples (bonus!) and a larger, roped off part of the warehouse structure that looked like it was where they made at least some of the chocolate. I wasn’t sure though as at the time, that section was closed off and we weren’t there at the time when they offered tours. Actually, I think we caught them at the tail end of their San Francisco location as, according to their website, their new production facility and factory store moved to Berkeley last year, shortly after we were at this San Francisco location.

I first sampled Tcho when I ordered from Treatsie. They billed themselves as “New American Chocolate”. I just wanted to buy their product and support them because they were local in the Bay Area. Plus, and more importantly, they focus on Fair Trade and even “beyond Fair Trade”. If you check out their FAQs on their website, it tells you more about that. But having once spent a week in the jungles of Belize learning about cacao production and meeting a local cacao farmer, it’s sensitized me a lot more about buying Fair Trade chocolate.

As much as I like chocolate, it might sound funny for me to say I don’t eat as much of it in pure chocolate bar form as you might think. Probably because I bake a lot and know so much more can be done with chocolate than unwrapping and consuming a chocolate bar. I’ve tried their cocoa powder, their chocolate “wafers” that I’ve melted and used for baking in cookies, cakes and brownies and yes, their chocolate candy bar form. I thought they were all good. I’m not sure I can pick it out in a blind taste test amongst a bunch of like-caliber chocolate but Tcho holds its own in terms of taste and quality. They’re still not as widely available as other brands of chocolate but they’re available online and, if I look hard enough, I can also find them locally, mostly at Whole Foods.

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