|Founder(s)||Timothy Childs & Karl Bittong|
|Headquarters||Pier 17, San Francisco, CA 94111|
|Key people||Louis Rossetto (CEO), Jane Metcalfe (President)|
|Products||Chocolate, Drinking chocolate, Cacao nibs|
TCHO is a luxury chocolate maker based in San Francisco, California. Its factory and headquarters are located on Pier 17 along the Embarcadero, in the city’s historic downtown waterfront district. TCHO works with cacao bean farmers and cooperatives to improve growing, fermentation, and drying methods.
TCHO was co-founded in December 2005 by Timothy Childs, a technology and chocolate entrepreneur who once developed vision systems for NASA's Space Shuttle program, and Karl Bittong, a 40-plus year veteran of the chocolate industry. Karl Bittong specializes in the engineering aspect of chocolate production and has worked on factories in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and the U.S. Today, its CEO and President are Louis Rossetto and Jane Metcalfe, respectively, co-founders of Wired magazine as well as the first magazine website, Wired.com.
In 2006, the company moved to Pier 17, a historic pier built in 1912 and the third-oldest pier on the San Francisco waterfront. Steel truss and timber frame buildings were built on this and surrounding piers to accommodate the loading and unloading of ships. Historically, the pier has been used for transport, military logistics, and trade, including the trade of cacao beans to San Francisco. Pier 17 also has the last remaining original fog horn. TCHO factory tours are available to the general public.
The chocolate factory was assembled by a team of engineers using vintage European machines from Wernigerode, Germany, and modern refiners, grinders, and Siemens computerized temperature gauges. TCHO teamed with Erik Spiekermann of Edenspiekermann for design and branding. Its packaging design has won numerous awards and honors, including the Academy of Chocolate Gold Award in February 2009, the European Design Gold Award in May 2009, the iF communication design award in August 2009, as well as nominations for the 2009 Cannes Design Lions and 2011 German Federal Design Award.
TCHO focuses on the inherent flavors of cacao and chocolate, separating flavors by profile. It positions its chocolate in terms of the flavor profile rather than by cacao percentage or the origin of the beans. Cacao’s flavors derive not only from its genetics and terroir, similar to wine and coffee, but also from the way the cacao beans are fermented and dried. Such flavors can be further developed or “fine-tuned” during roasting, grinding, and conching to make the final chocolate. The cacao beans for TCHO’s four PureNotes dark chocolates were sourced and formulated to correspond to the dark chocolate flavor wheel.
- “Chocolatey” is a single origin chocolate made from Ghanaian cacao beans. 70% cacao.
- Flavor notes: Intensely fudgey; hints of roasted malt and caramel.
- “Fruity” is a single origin chocolate (organic and fair trade) made from Peruvian cacao beans. 68% cacao. No fruits added.
- Flavor notes: Bright berry notes, finishing with traces of cherry.
- “Nutty” is a single origin chocolate (organic and fair trade) made from Ecuadoran cacao beans. 65% cacao. No nuts added.
- Flavor notes: Roasted nuts with hints of coffee and toasted biscuit.
- “Citrus” is a single origin chocolate (organic) made from Madagascar cacao beans. 67% cacao. No citrus added.
- Flavor notes: Subtle citrus notes, ending with a smooth creamy finish.
TCHO’s SeriousMilk chocolates include two milk chocolates with primary flavors that correspond to the milk chocolate flavor wheel, as follows:
- “Classic” is a creamy rich milk chocolate (organic and fair trade). 39% cacao.
- Flavor notes: Rich caramel notes, with hints of butterscotch, honey and vanilla.
- “Cacao” is a dark milk chocolate (organic and fair trade). 53% cacao.
- Flavor notes: Fudgey flavor, with a smooth creamy finish.
The company's flavor wheels are a key brand differentiator for TCHO.
In addition to chocolate bars, the company sells drinking chocolate, roasted cacao nibs, chocolate covered nuts/fruit, and a wide selection of gifts with packaging by award-winning graphic designers. TCHO sells its products through various channels. TCHO’s products are available at select Whole Foods, and many gourmet specialty stores, restaurants, and bakeries throughout the country. TCHO also produces private label chocolate for Starbucks and Starbucks' Evolution Fresh stores nationwide.
Through its TCHOSource Program, TCHO directly invests in partnerships with cacao farmers, providing them the technology and know-how in 'open source' fashion. TCHOSource has installed TCHO "Flavor Labs" at co-ops throughout the world for farmers.
- Dackman, Lisa; Patterson, Leslie, Pier 15 Facts of Interest
- "Chocolate.com: A start-up innovates in an unexpected field", The Economist, April 17, 2008
- Crooks, Peter (April 2010), "Louis and the Chocolate Factory", Diablo Magazine