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TCHO New American Chocolate

A New Cocoa Flavor Lab in Ecuador

The TCHOSource team just returned from a productive visit to Ecuador. One of the key efforts on the trip was the installation of a cocoa flavor lab at a farmer’s association that didn’t previously have access to this technology. This is the ninth flavor lab TCHO has installed world-wide, and each time we install one we’re reminded of how necessary and valuable it is for the farmers with whom we work.

The Bautista Family is a member of the association we worked with on the lab. Alberto worked for 15 years to save enough to buy his own cocoa farm.

The flavor lab helps farmers assess the outcome of their harvesting, fermenting and drying efforts, and tune their processes toward specific flavor profiles. How does the flavor lab do this? By making chocolate! We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: most cacao farmers have never tasted any chocolate, much less chocolate made from their own crops. Once they learn to taste what we’re tasting, they are well on their way to improving everything about the work that they do. And they can’t do it until they have a facility at hand to make chocolate themselves.

Javier is the new lab technician.

Of course, we’re with them every step of the way as suppliers first learn to use the lab, and then, more importantly, learn to taste cocoa the way chocolate makers do. Once they can match their processes with the outcomes, they are truly a partner for TCHO as we work together to make obsessively good chocolate.

Working with tempered cocoa liquor in the new cocoa flavor lab. The inaugural batch looks pretty good!