- Published on April 14, 2016
- Written by Laura Ann Sweitzer
Did you know that many cocoa farmers have never tasted chocolate? And that next to none have tasted chocolate made from their own beans? This fact is indicative of some of the very serious inequalities found in most cocoa supply chains.
Although TCHO is a small chocolate company, we are working hard to change this. TCHO installs mini chocolate-making laboratories – TCHO Flavor Labs – in farmer organizations and national cocoa research organizations around the world. Farmers, cooperative leaders, and cocoa scientists use TCHO Flavor Labs to enjoy delicious chocolate and to rigorously analyze the quality of their beans.
How does this help TCHO make great-tasting chocolate? Well, it’s next to impossible to ask someone to sell you a good-tasting, high quality cocoa bean if they’ve never tasted a roasted bean or chocolate. Providing chocolate-making equipment to co-ops in our supply chain helps TCHO source the best beans. Providing the same equipment to cocoa research institutes helps these organizations ensure that farmers in these countries are planting cacao trees that produce tasty cocoa beans!
This visit was part of the Ghana Quality Improvement (GQI) Project- a project TCHO manages in Ghana in collaboration with the World Cocoa Foundation, Guittard, and CRIG. The initiative is partially funded by the United States Agency for International Development. Through the GQI project, TCHO has been working with these partners to install a flavor lab at CRIG to ensure they can consider flavor, alongside productivity and pest resistance, when they research what seedlings to breed and distribute to farmers throughout Ghana.
The CRIG flavor lab was installed in 2014 and a selected team of tasters has been training hard ever since to consistently identify various attributes in cacao beans and rank the overall flavor. Last week’s visit was a continuation of that training. We spent lots of time tasting and identifying the flavor of cocoa beans! The visit also included training on cocoa bean analysis, roasting, chocolate making and some fun!