Free Standard shipping on orders $75 and above every day!


TCHO New American Chocolate

Completing The Circle

Two weeks ago a lucky few of us at TCHO were lucky enough to be guests of NOPA, super restaurant on Divisidero and Hayes here in San Francisco. There are a lot of restaurants that use local ingredients and have jumped on the sustainable foods bandwagon because it is the right thing to do, or because it sells well. At NOPA, this is not adaptation to a trend but what they are really about.

Last month we had the pleasure of having Pastry Chef, Amy Brown, a good part of the kitchen staff, wait staff and wine director and blogger Caleb Taft over to our factory for a tour. It was great to share what we are doing at TCHO, how we bring our relationships with farmers through the chocolate making process to create great products that bring lasting value to our producer partners, our employees, shareholders, investors and to our customers. After visiting NOPA for dinner shortly afterwards, reading their blog and an entire section of their website dedicated to their purveyors, I began to understand what a great connection TCHO and NOPA share.

After visiting their purveyors, learning more about the ingredients they use and the people behind them, in an incredibly gracious and generous commitment, NOPA ‘completes the circle’ by reciprocating and inviting their suppliers to a special lunch featuring their ingredients in thoughtful and creative ways. We shared the table with guests from Sonoma County Poultry – Liberty Farms, a fantastic producer of delectable Sonoma Duck and from Radio Coteau, a unique winery that broadcasts ‘coastal expressions of soil, seasons, people and place’.

Here is the food NOPA created, bringing us all together:

Cara Cara arugala salad with blood orange marmalade
County Line Rose, Anderson Valley, 2009, Champaigne clones
Duck pate with cocoa nibs on toasted bread
Radio Coteau, La Neblina Pinot Noir, Sonoma 2007

Liberty Farms braised duck leg in chocolate infused duck jus
Grist mills polenta, Yolo county (milled a week ago!)
Black beans from rancho Gordo (Eddie’s favorite beans!) with TCHOPro 68% blend, ancho chile, garlic cayenne and cinnamon and choco duck jus
Radio Coteau, La Colina Syrah, 2007

CHOCOLATEY Pot de Creme with cocoa nib cream
FRUITY Chocolate sauce with dried fruit compote from Blosom Bluff
NUTTY Gianduja Ganache on toasted brioches – hamburger bun!
CITRUS semifreddo (frozen mousse) on a fuilatine crust with candied kumquat

What an incredibly creative and delectable combination of ingredients, inspiration and talent.

In keeping with NOPA’s goal of creating a sense of community and shared experiences, we were invited to come early and share in the preparation of this incredible food, but alas, we do have to work as well…. NOPA walks the talk and in doing so creates relationships, lasting experience and value for all.


just another day at work….

You might wonder if everyone who works here can eat as much chocolate as we want every day. The answer is YES. But you actually don’t feel like eating as much as you might imagine you would. Sure, some nibbling every day… But it’s baked goodies (made with our baking drops) that really elicit excitement around here.

At least once or twice a week, we arrive at the chocolate factory office to find some delectable plate of chocolatey goodness waiting for us. Usually these are baked by either someone on our team (often Rick!) or a friend of someone on our team.

This morning, Jennifer P (friend of John’s) baked these unbelievably moist chewy chocolate brownies draped in caramel and roasted pecans. My cell ph photo does not do justice to them – but you can catch the caramel sheen and imagine their texture I think.

Baked with our 66% organic fair trade baking drops, they were outstanding! A little sweet and intense for first thing in the morning–but we are used to that around here. They were inhaled in minutes.

OK, I’m totally buzzed. Had to share that with you all. Back to work!

Epilogue: But the sweetness continued: just as the brownie plate was emptied (just before posting this story), Rick came from the Production Area with a tray full of fresh baking drops. This is a regular occurrence around here.

Rick cheerfully appears with his tray in hand (hair net and beard net still on) and encourages everyone to try the latest fresh chocolate (straight from the molding line). And he asks what you think. This batch? (‘Yes; Delicious! They are so FRUITY! A veritable fruit bomb’).

signing off in chocolatey buzzy bliss,


Chocolate gives a better buzz than kissing?

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I thought this research (cited by the BBC) might be relevant…

Turns out, chocolate gives you more of a buzz than kissing! Sounds like a fun one to test.


Chocolate ‘better than kissing’

When it comes to tongues, melting chocolate is better than a passionate kiss, scientists have found. Couples in their 20s had their heart rates and brains monitored whilst they first melted chocolate in their mouths and then kissed.

Chocolate caused a more intense and longer lasting “buzz” than kissing, and doubled volunteers’ heart rates. The research was carried out by Dr David Lewis, formerly of the University of Sussex, and now of the Mind Lab. Experts, concerned at growing levels of obesity throughout the developed world, warn that chocolate should only be consumed in moderation.

Dr Lewis said: “There is no doubt that chocolate beats kissing hands down when it comes to providing a long-lasting body and brain buzz. A buzz that, in many cases, lasted four times as long as the most passionate kiss.” He said substances in chocolate were already known to have a psychoactive effect, but that allowing it to melt on your tongue could be the secret to maximising the buzz.

The volunteers, all aged in their 20s, had electrodes attached to their scalps and wore heart monitors during the two tests. The researchers compared their resting heart rates with those during the chocolate and kissing tests.

Longer lasting effects
Although kissing set the heart pounding, the effect did not last as long as that seen with the chocolate, which increased heart rates from a resting rate of about 60 beats per minute to 140. The study also found that as the chocolate started melting, all regions of the brain received a boost far more intense and longer lasting than the excitement seen with kissing.

Although women are generally thought to be bigger fans of chocolate than men, the research found the same reactions to chocolate in both sexes. Dr Lewis said: “These results really surprised and intrigued us. While we fully expected chocolate- especially dark chocolate – to increase heart rates due to the fact it contains some highly stimulating substances, both the length of this increase together with the powerful effects it had on the mind were something none of us had anticipated.”

Psychologist Sue Wright said: “Chocolate contains phenylethylamine which can raise levels of endorphins, the pleasure-giving substances, in the brain. It also contains caffeine which has a stimulatory effect on the brain. This would explain why chocolate can give people a buzz, and why people can become addicted to it.”

The research used a new 60% cocoa dark chocolate from Cadbury, and a spokeswoman for the chocolate makers said: “You’d think people would be shy about kissing in a laboratory, but that wasn’t the case at all. We’re not talking about a quick peck here.”

The Mind Lab is funded by members of the food industry, although no firm can be linked to any individual study.


Theobromine in chocolate suppresses coughing

Next time you’re coughing, remember your chocolate! Turns out, the theobromine in chocolate suppresses vagus nerve activity, which is responsible for causing coughing. And it works better than codeine!

The BBC article and the research it cites below are from several years ago, but since it’s cold/flu season, I thought it would be relevant right about now.

Chocolate could be cough medicine

Better than pills or potions?

An ingredient of chocolate could put a stop to persistent coughs and lead to new, more effective cough medicines, research suggests.

Scientists found the key ingredient, theobromine, is nearly a third more effective in stopping persistent coughs than the leading medicine codeine.

They say it produces fewer side effects than conventional treatment – and would not leave people drowsy.

The research, led by Imperial College London, is published in FASEB journal.

This discovery could be a huge step forward in treating this problem.

Professor Peter Barnes
Researcher Professor Peter Barnes said: “Coughing is a medical condition which affects most people at some point in their lives, and yet no effective treatment exists.

“While persistent coughing is not necessarily harmful it can have a major impact on quality of life, and this discovery could be a huge step forward in treating this problem.”

The researchers gave 10 healthy volunteers theobromine, a placebo or codeine at different times.

They then exposed the volunteers to capsaicin, a substance used in clinical research to cause coughing.

The concentration of capsaicin required to produce a cough in those people given theobromine was around one third higher when compared with the group receiving a placebo.

When the group received codeine they needed only marginally higher levels of capsaicin to produce coughing, compared with the placebo.

Nerve activity
Theobromine works by suppressing vagus nerve activity, which is responsible for causing coughing.

The team also discovered that unlike standard cough treatments, theobromine caused no adverse effects on either the cardiovascular or central nervous systems.

Professor Maria Belvisi, who also worked on the study, said: “Not only did theobromine prove more effective than codeine, at the doses used it was found to have none of the side effects.

“Normally the effectiveness of any treatment is limited by the dosage you can give someone.

“With theobromine having no demonstrated side effects in this study it may be possible to give far bigger doses, further increasing its effectiveness.

“At the same time, theobromine may not have any of the side effects such as drowsiness. This means there will be no restrictions on when it can be taken.

“For example, people using heavy machinery or who are driving should not take codeine, but they could take theobromine.”

Encouraging results
Dame Helena Shovelton, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation said: “The results of this research sound very promising.

“Persistant coughing often affects lung disease patients so this could be a progressive step in terms of treating it. Also, it is encouraging to find no adverse effects.

“We would like to see more research done to fully understand the potential of these findings and would advise patients to speak to their GP before changing their medication or treating their cough with chocolate!”

Dr Richard Russell, of the British Thoracic Society, said: “Over-the-counter sales for acute cough medicines currently reach approximately £100m a year in the UK – money that is being spent on remedies, where there is no evidence that they work.

“The number of people with undiagnosed chronic cough is increasing in this country – and more effective treatments are needed.

“The condition can be really distressing and so I hope this research provides a clue for future treatments.”


TCHO now in Starbucks (and a whole bunch of other great news)

Yesterday was a big day for our chocolate company! I think Louis summed it up well in the email he sent out yesterday afternoon (and, yes, the day ended with a little team celebration):

(make sure to play the audio below while you read!):
Today is an auspicious day in TCHO’s history. We’ve sacrificed, worked insanely hard, suffered the despair of Start Up Land — but today, it’s time to savor some of the exhilaration:

1. We are in 5,500 Starbucks across the country. For perspective, before today, we were in about 300 outlets.
2. We are in Martha Stewart Living’s (2M circ) February issue, which mailed to subscribers today. This is what Martha had to say about TCHO: “In our blind chocolate taste test, TCHO was the hands down star.”
3. We are in the February issue of Travel & Leisure (950K)
4. We are a feature story in United Airlines Hemispheres magazine(4.5M)
5. We are a feature story in AirTrans Go magazine (2M)
6. We are in Wired UK and Wired Italia (200K circ)
7. The AIB audit is done — this is the toughest, most meaningful certification for the factory–and we passed with flying colors; given a “superior” rating
8. The Fancy Food Show is upon us, and our party is looking to be oversubscribed.

Are we excited yet? Can you feel the momentum?

Let’s lift a glass at 4:30!



Happy Trails

Our co-founder, Timothy Childs, is leaving. Timothy’s contributions to TCHO are manifold, including our signature flavors, our Flavor Wheel and flavor taxonomy, and our TCHOSource program, developed with Director of Sourcing John Kehoe. For four years, Timothy has worked tirelessly to build TCHO in the face of long odds, and is now ready to take a well-deserved break. He leaves behind a killer team, deep sourcing, and a company committed to excellence and innovation in everything we do. A major shareholder, Timothy remains dedicated to TCHO’s success. All of us here at TCHO thank him for the hard work and soul he invested in our company, congratulate him on his accomplishments, and wish him the

very best on his next entrepreneurial adventures.


Cocoa can decrease blood pressure….

Cocoa Can Decrease Blood Pressure, Study Shows
Jody A. Charnow January 05, 2010

Cocoa products such as dark chocolate and cocoa-containing beverages can lower blood pressure, a recent meta-analysis confirms.

Steffen Desch, MD, of the University of Leipzig-Heart Center in Leipzig, German, and colleagues analyzed data from 10 randomized controlled trials that included a total of 297 subjects. The study populations were either healthy adults with normal blood pressure or patients with prehypertension or stage 1 hypertension. Treatment duration ranged from two to 18 weeks.

Across all trials, consumption of cocoa products was associated with a mean 4.5 mm Hg decrease in systolic pressure and a mean 2.5 mm Hg decrease in diastolic pressure, the researchers reported in the American Journal of Hypertension (2010;23:97-103).

The new meta-analysis builds on epidemiologic evidence showing an antihypertensive effect of cocoa-containing food. For example, in a study of 470 elderly men in The Netherlands, those in the highest tertile of cocoa intake had mean systolic and diastolic pressures that were 3.7 and 2.1 mm Hg lower, respectively, compared with men in the lowest tertile, according to a report in Archives of Internal Medicine (2006;166:411-417). They also had significantly decreased 15-year cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.


What chocolate really tastes like

So we have a marketing issue. We’ve innovated a new taxonomy for tasting chocolate, because the current “dark” or “percentage cacao” or “terroir/genetics” models seem insufficient to connecting consumers to the flavor the bar they are tasting. We created a flavor wheel to represent this taxonomy. And we designate our bars by the inherent flavor of the cacao we are using. Indeed, we use this taxonomy to source our beans, to create our formulations, to roast, and to refine, so that at the end, our chocolate is the purest expression of those flavors we can make.

The challenge comes in how to convey what we are doing to consumers. Some completely get it, like the Wallpaper guys at the NY Chocolate show last year, who wrote:

The biggest hit [of The New York Chocolate Show] to our minds was the San Francisco-based company Tcho, who cut a clear swath through the sometime mystery of single-origin (it takes a while to immediately recognize Madagascar) with a flavor-profile approach, offering the choice of nutty, fruity, chocolatey, and citrusy. It sounds simple, but it absolutely works, and after the exhaustion of tasting so many different bars and truffles and types, was the perfect – and perfectly packaged – close.

Still, we’re hearing anecdotally that some aren’t buying our “Nutty” bars because they’re allergic to nuts, or that they’re disappointed that there aren’t any raisins in our “Fruity.”

That, of course, led to some spirited discussion around here about how to clear up the confusion. One response is to change the language on the packaging. Now it’s going to read:

What Chocolate Really Tastes Like.
TCHO chocolates are the pure
flavors of cacao. There are no nuts
in our “Nutty,” nor fruit in “Fruity.”
As with wine, what you taste is
precisely, and only, what’s in the
fruit itself. Because we believe
that flavor – not vague terms
like “dark,” “% cacao,” or “origin” –
is the real key to savoring chocolate.

Then we started to think – if we had some marketing money to spend, what kind of a campaign would we create to get this message out? With a tip of our hat to Steve Jobs and his Think Different campaign that appropriated all the heros of the 20th century to help Apple when it really needed it, herewith . . .


Remark (1)


Michael Penland:

Hi Louis and team,

It wasn’t until I read the new flavor blurb on the back of the bar I got at the TCHO holiday jam that I really believed all I was tasting was chocolate.  I was totally convinced that there was actual citrus in the citrus, nuts in the nutty, etc, but was pleasantly surprised (and now infatuated with) the purity of the flavor profiles.

You’re right, this is a tricky market differentiation issue, especially with so many additive chocolate bars out there. Educating consumers will take time, but there may be an some simple solutions in the interim.

While the blurb helps, you should consider -if only for a time- adding a term like “varietal” to the bar name to emphasis the distinction, e.g., Dark Chocolate “Fruity Varietal”.  This would help clarify that “Fruity” is describing the cacao and not any additives, while also reinforcing the similarities to the wine industry.

PS – Great meeting you at the holiday jam; I’m glad we got the music going 😉
Take care.


Chocolate protects against cardiac mortality following myocardial infarction

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the USA. More than 26 million non-institutionalized adults are diagnosed with heart disease. Over 1.25 million Americans suffer a heart attack each year…

Chocolate Is Associated with Lower Mortality Following First Myocardial Infarction [MI]

Amount of chocolate consumption was related inversely to cardiac-related mortality during an 8-year follow-up
Several studies have suggested that chocolate, perhaps in a process mediated by its antioxidant content, protects the heart (JW Gen Med Jul 10 2007 and JW Gen Med Sep 23 2003). A Swedish team identified 1169 nondiabetic patients who were hospitalized with initial nonfatal myocardial infarctions. Detailed food histories for the preceding 12 months were completed by 86% of patients; participants were followed for an additional 8 years.

Compared with patients who never ate chocolate, those who ate chocolate less than once monthly suffered 27% less cardiac-related mortality (after multivariate adjustments); risk was 44% lower for weekly chocolate eaters and 66% lower for those who ate chocolate two or more times weekly. Nonfatal adverse cardiac events, strokes, and total mortality, however, were not related clearly to chocolate consumption. Consuming other sweets (e.g., cookies, cakes, ice cream) had no relation to cardiac mortality.

Comment: The strengths of this study are its size and long-term follow-up. The main weakness is that chocolate consumption was assessed only once, during hospitalization for initial MIs, and not during follow-up.

To me, the most interesting result of the study is that chocolate strongly protected against cardiac mortality but not against adverse cardiac events. The same finding has been reported for ω-3 fatty acid supplements, which suggests that the primary beneficial effect of both chocolate and ω-3 fatty acid supplements is in suppressing arrhythmias. 

— Anthony L. Komaroff, MD 

Published in Journal Watch General Medicine September 3, 2009

Janszky I et al. Chocolate consumption and mortality following a first acute myocardial infarction: The Stockholm Heart Epidemiology Program. J Intern Med 2009 Sep; 266:248.[Medline® Abstract]

Copyright © 2009. Massachusetts Medical Society. All rights reserved.


Dark chocolate could be stress buster

more great news for us chocolate lovers…

Dark chocolate could be stress buster
By Jane Byrne , 16-Nov-2009
Related topics: The Big Picture

Daily consumption of 40 grams of dark chocolate for two weeks can reduce stress and benefit metabolism and microbial activity in the gut, claims scientists based at the Nestle Research Centre.

In a study published in Journal of Proteome Research the Lausanne based researchers said their results show that eating dark chocolate daily reduced stress hormone levels in those who had high anxiety levels.

The authors maintain that there is growing pool of evidence pointing to the potential health implications of dark chocolate constituents, with the flavonoids in cocoa linked to better cardiovascular health through the maintenance of low blood pressure, improved endothelial function, and a reduction in thrombotic, oxidative and inflammatory states.

However, they claim that the mechanisms of action of chocolate bioactive components at the molecular levels are poorly understood, particularly in the case for benefits related to brain health and improvement of stress states where only symptomatic data, such as brain blood flow, are available

The researchers said that, in order to evaluate the metabolic changes associated with dark chocolate consumption they looked at the effects of eating 40 grams of dark chocolate every day for two weeks on blood and urine measures of stress in 30 healthy adults.

They explained that they used nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and mass spectrometry (MS) to study changes in metabolism, and that the subjects completed psychological questionnaires, to enable them to be grouped into low and high anxiety traits.

Half of the chocolate was eaten mid-morning and the other half was eaten mid-afternoon, according to the study.

The authors stated that they took urine and blood plasma samples from the participants at the beginning, halfway through, and at the end of the two week study.

The researchers said the results show that they were lower levels of stress hormones in the samples at the end.

“Dark chocolate reduced the urinary excretion of the stress hormone cortisol and catecholamines,” they reported.

The authors conclude that subjects with higher anxiety trait had a distinct metabolic profile, and that this profile was indicative of a different energy homeostasis, hormone metabolism, and gut microbe activity, and that dark chocolate also partially normalized stress-related differences in energy metabolism and gut microbial activities.

Source: Journal of Proteome Research

Published online ahead of print: DOI: 10.1021/pr900607v

Title: Metabolic Effects of Dark Chocolate Consumption on Energy, Gut Microbiota, and Stress-Related Metabolism in Free-Living Subjects

Authors: S. Kochhar et al


Page 7 of 10« First...56789...Last »