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TCHO New American Chocolate

Flavor Lab #3

Last week we shipped our 3rd FlavorLab! This time to Peru. The shipment comprised of six boxes, 109 kg of TCHOSource technology innovation and commitment.

Our FlavorLabs are key component in our highly cost-effective program to make lab-scale chocolate making accessible to those who hadn’t had access to it before. The FlavorLab is our way of empowering our producer partners by putting them “in-the-loop” by enabling producers to make the connection of how changes and variations in post-harvest processing can greatly affect quality and flavor.

TCHO FlavorLabs have the same basic configuration we use everyday at Pier 17 to conduct both physical (levels of fermentation, bean size and count, etc) and sensory analysis (taste, acidity, bitterness, flavor, etc) of the beans. This tool allows our cooperative partners to better understand the true value and potential of their cacao: quality and flavor.

We are seeing success quicker than we had anticipated. The partners of our first very first FlavorLab already have shown a big win. Before their FlavorLab, their cacao did not even place in the annual national cacao contest based on liquor flavor, at which we were judges. Six months after our installing of a FlavorLab, they placed 3rd in the country!

This particular FlavorLab installation is super exciting for a number of reasons.

The FlavorLab component of the TCHOSource program is showing that it is “scalable”—or able to readily grow in size. Rather than our traveling down with the lab to do the set up and training, now our infield technical partner (and TCHO BeanTeam rock star) Aldo is doing the installation and training at the next Coop. This is very encouraging; the people we’ve trained are training others and we are keeping costs down at the same time. A truly scalable model. Way to go Aldo!

Building the FlavorLabs requires good coordination and teamwork. TCHOSource receives great support from our engineering team and from our founder, Timothy Childs, whose vision and scrappy approach made FlavorLabs possible. They customize a number of the off-the-shelf components as well as the fabrication our internet-enabled custom temperature control boxes (TCHO NetNode) that allows us to maintain a steady and repeatable temperature range during roasting, refining and conching. Thanks, Matt and Robert! Also hats off to Jeremy and Pete in our shipping department that got everything out the door during our busiest holiday season yet. And last but hardly least, huge props to our TCHOSource Program Manager and sustainability Super Star, Ann Cleaveland, for pulling this all together.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect is that our concept of making high quality liquor through good roasting, conching and tempering for proper sensory analysis is beginning to catch on. We hope our “open source” model for improving quality of cacao will become a standard, allowing cooperatives to get better prices, which can in turn drive interest in productivity, leading to real economic sustainability. TCHOSource in action – improving quality, changing lives!