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TCHO New American Chocolate

Welcome to the modern world of high tech chocolate…at 32,000 feet.

So, we (Shelley and I) are in the air right now, flying from San Francisco to New York, to further TCHO’s “going big” at the Fancy Food Show.

At the same time, John and Ann, two of TCHO’s “Bean Team”, are down in the jungles of Peru setting up a TCHO FLavorLab, as well as participating in a ground-breaking ceremony of the new cutting-edge fermentaria that the BeanTeam co-designed and are helping to build. (John and Ann are furthering our TCHOSource efforts in Peru right now, which is a major step forward for TCHO and the farmers and suppliers with which we do business. This story alone warrants a number of blog entries from them when they get back).

While down there, John shipped a sample of beans from the latest batch for us to test through roasting and grinding into cocoa liquor (aka cocoa mass). We started the grind late last night and I molded it up early this morning for tasting and approval on the plane. (I seem to taste a lot of beans, liquor and chocolate during air travel.)

And as an important aside, we are flying Virgin America, a corporate role model for TCHO. It is their attitude, business philosophy and success which we aspire to emulate. Which is, if you’re going to do something, do it with style, passion and a touch of whimsy.

Mike Milliorn, our completely “with it” inflight host, (who happened to remember us from the inflight tasting we did with the Virgin crew on their inaugural SFO–>Boston flight a few months back), just offered me another absinthe, but custom stylized it his way, the “Mikey” way. (He, like everyone else I’ve had the pleasure to meet with this airline, is one of the many reasons I readily support Virgin’s world domination plan. (Here are some of Shelley’s photographs from the inaugural flight.)

So here’s where it all starts to fuse together.

Sipping absinthe, listening to super current mashup beats from the UK on Virgin’s Red inflight system, while looking out the window and appreciating the great clouds from 32K feet, I pull out my trusty MacBookPro to connect to a different type of cloud–the internet.

The ceremony in Peru is about to start. John and Ann really want to announce our findings of the current bean samples and hence, our commitment to move forward, during the big ceremony. The clock is ticking to get them our answer in time.

So at breakfast at the airport, I tried the new liquor and loved it. I noticed a few changes, though, that will need to be tweaked, but nevertheless, it’s great. I called John before boarding but he was, as I found out later, doing an hour long presentation to all the Peruvian big shots and couldn’t be interrupted.

Ok. So what now? Text isn’t sufficient to discuss the subtleties and variances in bean cut tests and sensory analysis. I remembered back to the inflight tasting we did on Virgin where we did an inflight video Skype call (now forbidden) between the plane and our team back at TCHO during the tasting.

So it was worth a shot to try to connect to John in the jungle from 32,000 feet over Utah via Skype Out. After a couple of attempts, bingo! Not only were we able to discuss the beans and approve moving forward, just in time, but we were able to get a quick update of the pioneering work John and Ann are doing in Peru. Go BeanTeam! Now here comes the very subtle but exciting realization that can only be happening in this modern time. From deep in the jungle, reading the day to day company email, John was able to feel the momentum building as the rest of the BeanTeam and TCHO gets ready for the Fancy Food Show. So I’m high in the sky on my way to help the TCHO team rock NYC, while John and Ann are rocking Peru, and we are CONNECTING about this from plane to jungle, in real time, wishing and encouraging each other’s luck and success. What an amazing time we live in.

What a great moment to participate in.

For TCHO, the internet, (and knowing how to harness it), is one of the main reasons we are able to move as fast as we are to make really great chocolate and build a really great company. Hopefully Louis can expound on our feelings of why the internet and this modern time is why TCHO can actually do what we do; which is being a San Francisco-based, disruptive newcomer, rocking the chocolate world, with our partners, in real-time across the globe.

It’s feeling really good to be part of TCHO in this stage of our history.

Next stop, New York.