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Where Do We Source Our Cocoa Beans?

Where Do We Source Our Cocoa Beans?

When TCHO was founded, we knew we wanted to make chocolate differently.

As part of our efforts to innovate the chocolate industry, we set to work developing a unique sourcing and production model for our chocolate. The result? TCHOSource, an unprecedented approach to producing chocolate in sustainable, ethical, and exceptionally delicious ways.  

We partner directly with cacao farmers, cooperatives, and research organizations in cacao producing countries. We combine their extensive cacao producing knowledge with our chocolate making savvy, to co-create the best cacao beans possible. Currently we are partnering with producers and sourcing beans from:

Ecuador: TCHO has provided extensive sensory training and installed 3 TCHO Flavor labs in Ecuador: one at INIAP, the National Cocoa Research Institute of Ecuador, and two at Fair Trade cooperatives we source from. TCHO sources Ecuadorian beans for their “nutty” and “hot chocolate” flavor notes.   

Ghana: TCHO has installed two TCHO Flavor Labs in Ghana: One at a farmer owned cooperative with over 13,000 farmer members, and one at the prestigious Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana- GRIGCRIG staff prepare chocolate and liquor samples in the lab for training farmers throughout Ghana on how different farming practices affect the flavor of their beans. TCHO sources cacao beans from Ghana for their deep “chocolatey”, fudgy, and brownie flavors.

Madagascar: TCHO works with one single farm in Ghana known around the world for the high quality beans they produce! TCHO sources Madagascar beans for their stunning citrus flavors.  

Peru:  Peru holds a special place in TCHO’s history as the first locale we ever sourced cacao beans from to make our chocolate.  TCHO has partnered with three amazing cooperatives in Peru to install TCHO Flavor labs, fermenting, and drying infrastructure at each. These cooperatives have run countless fermentation and drying experiments-allowing us to taste and explore the full range of flavors naturally found in their cocoa beans. TCHO sources Peruvian beans for their nuanced fruity flavors.

Dominican Republic: Conacado cooperative in the DR is home to yet another TCHO Flavor Lab. TCHO sources Dominican beans for their flavorful and balanced profile.

We have learned so much from the farmers, cocoa scientists and coop leaders in all of these countries. We look forward to expanding our sourcing and TCHOSource program to additional cacao producing countries soon!

How Chocolate Is Changing in 2017

The chocolate industry has come a long way.

While big companies still dominate the chocolate industry, small quality focused chocolate companies are rapidly growing their sales and influence. And that’s had a profound impact on the industry as a whole. Here are just some of the ways in which chocolate is changing in 2017.

Premium chocolate is on the rise.  

Artisan chocolate has been on the scene for several years now, and this trend is on full display in 2017. People are more and more invested in the quality of the food they purchase—and that includes their favorite sweets. As a result, people are becoming more willing to pay a little extra for a better quality bar. This helps explain why premium chocolate—which includes single-origin, organic, high-cocoa, and ethical chocolate options such as TCHO—while less than 5% of the market, is growing faster than any other sector in the confection market.

Dark chocolate is increasingly popular.

For decades, milk chocolate reigned supreme. But as people started to learn about the health benefits of dark chocolate, they opened up their palettes to giving it a try—and they discovered it wasn’t so bitter after all. As a result, dark chocolate has been steadily gaining popularity over the past few years, and this trend is expected to continue in 2017. In fact, growth of dark chocolate sales recently surpassed the growth of milk chocolate sales for the first time ever.

Chocolate products are getting more flavorful.

Now that they have a taste for dark chocolate, people are getting curious about other, more distinct chocolate flavors. The premium chocolate industry is happily meeting this demand. Major flavor trends so far have included everything from espresso to figs, turmeric, cardamom, and hibiscus. This year, chocolate makers will be expected to top these options with even more inventive flavors.

TCHO has been at the cutting-edge of flavorful chocolate production for years. It’s why our product lineboasts a wide range of flavors to appeal to every taste bud, from Mint Chip Gelato to Orange + Toffee, Mokaccino, and Triple Berry.

The industry is getting more ethical.

For several years now, people have been growing increasingly concerned with how their food is produced—so it was only a matter of time until this ethos came to their treats. A combination of consumer demand and brand priorities is driving the craft chocolate industry towards a more ethical focus. More and more consumers want ethical products from authentic and transparent companies.

At TCHO, we embody this ethos every day. Through our TCHOSource program, we partner with farmers to create ethically and sustainably grown chocolate that helps maintain farmers’ livelihoods and enhance their wellbeing. We’re part of a broader movement toward more ethically sourced chocolate across the board, we go beyond Fair Trade

Production is becoming more environmentally friendly.

Conventional cocoa production has gotten a pretty bad rap in environmental circles for provoking soil erosion, the overuse of fertilizers, deforestation, and other not-so-eco-friendly effects, not to mention cocoa breeds and depth of flavor. But that’s starting to change. Just as brands are adopting more ethical practices when it comes to farmers, they’re also getting more ethical when it comes to their eco-footprint by adopting more sustainable agricultural practices and reducing waste and energy consumption throughout the supply stream.

At TCHO, we’re committed to minimizing our impact on the environment by producing organic and Fair Trade chocolate whenever possible, providing bulk purchasing options so customers can cut down on packaging waste, and partnering with our farmers to promote sustainable growing practices.

Brands are becoming more transparent.

As brands like TCHO commit to eliminating the old ways of chocolate sourcing in exchange for more farmer- and earth-friendly practices, they’re seeking to get the word out about their efforts. Companies that have nothing to hide are driving a trend toward greater brand transparency in the chocolate industry as a whole. For example, we at TCHO make no bones about where our chocolate is produced, how our chocolate is sourced, and the values we bring to the chocolate production process. This transparency empowers consumers to choose from brands whose values align with their own.

From eco-friendly farming to innovative flavor combinations, chocolate is boasting some impressive transformations

The Surprising Health Benefits of Milk Chocolate

By now, most of us know dark chocolate isn’t just delicious—it’s also good for us.

Studies have found dark chocolate can do everything from alleviate stress to boost brain activity,improve liver health, and relieve the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, among other benefits. This (along with the fact that Americans are developing a taste for strong flavors) helps explain why dark chocolate is now out-selling milk and white varieties.

That’s great news for the dark chocolate lovers in our midst, but what about the folks who prefer the creamier taste of milk chocolate?

As it turns out, milk chocolate boasts its own benefits. Here are four reasons why preferring the milky varieties doesn’t need to be such a guilty pleasure.

Photo Credit: Chocablog

Photo Credit: Chocablog

It’s high in calcium.

Thanks to the fact that it’s made with milk, milk chocolate contains significantly more calcium than the darker stuff. Our bodies rely on calcium to maintain strong bones and to sustain the healthy function of our hearts, muscles, and nerves. Without enough calcium, our bodies don’t function as well and we risk developing weak bones or osteoarthritis. Of course, milk chocolate isn’t the only source of calcium (other great sources include yogurt, cheese, dark leafy vegetables, sardines, and salmon)—but it does offer an exceptionally tasty way to up your calcium intake.

It may be good for your heart.

One large-scale study of nearly 21,000 British adults found the regular consumption of chocolate was correlated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. While some of the study participants preferred dark chocolate, most of them opted for milk chocolate treats. The results? The risk of heart disease went down by 14 percent, while the risk of stroke went down by 23 percent.

When the researchers combined their findings with nine other studies looking at the relationship between chocolate and heart disease (for a total of almost 158,000 participants), the results were even more impressive: High chocolate consumption was associated with a 29 percent lower risk of heart disease and a 21 percent lower risk of stroke. Once again, most of the study participants preferred milk chocolate.

While it should be noted that correlation doesn’t equal causation, the researchers believe chocolate of all stripes can improve heart health by lowering blood pressure, increasing blood flow to the brain, and decreasing the risk of blood clots. It’s also possible the calcium and fatty acids found in milk chocolate may have an additional heart-healthy effect.

It may boost brain health.

One 2009 study found the consumption of milk chocolate led to improvements in a number of cognitive functions, including memory, problem solving, and attention span. The researchers attributed these benefits to the chocolate’s high levels of procyanidin (a flavonoid that can reduce inflammation in the brain) and thiamin (aka vitamin B1, which has an energizing effect).

Anything dark chocolate can do, so can milk chocolate (just not to the same degree).

Dark chocolate is known for its high levels of antioxidants, which can positively impact people’s health in a number of ways. That’s thanks to the high cocoa content of dark chocolate, which typically lands at 60 percent or more. Because milk chocolate generally hovers around the 20 percent mark (although, at TCHO, our milk chocolate products are 39% and 53%), it simply doesn’t contain as many antioxidants as dark chocolate. But “less” is not the same as “zero”. While it doesn’t pack the same antioxidant punch as dark chocolate, milk chocolate still contains good-for-you polyphenols, which can assist with everything from immunity to hair health and stress relief. If you’re choosing a chocolate expressly for its health benefits, the darker the better—but you’ll still benefit from some antioxidants if you prefer the milk varieties.

If dark chocolate doesn’t whip your taste buds into a frenzy, there’s no need to feel guilty. Whether your flavor preferences lean toward Hazelnut Chunk, Toffee + Sea Salt, or Mokaccino, you can rest assured milk chocolate comes with its own benefits. Just remember the importance of moderation: A diet consisting of nothing but milk chocolate won’t do a body good. But the occasional treat may offer some health benefits in addition to tasting delicious.