TCHO Source is our unique program for partnering with cacao producers and research institutions worldwide to create a better cacao bean, because better cacao means better chocolate.
And we're not just talking about the quality and taste of the cacao beans; we're talking about how they're grown, harvested, roasted, and moved along every point along the supply chain. We care about the people behind cacao, from the farmer to the roaster and all the communities in-between. Through TCHO Source, we establish partners at every step to co-create better cacao for the benefit of the entire chocolate industry.
A simple concept but a complex process. When we started out, we discovered quickly that there were many challenges to sourcing great cacao consistently.
• Most cacao farmers have never tasted chocolate, even fewer have tasted chocolate made from their own cacao beans.
• Most cacao farmers aren’t paid enough to make a decent living, let alone invest in their cacao crops and processes such as new drying beds, fermentation boxes, lab equipment, and more.
• The lack of tools, know how, and shortage of price incentives are the main barriers to increasing the quality of cacao.
Like we said, complex. So how do we overcome these challenges? The answer is TCHO Source.
TCHO Source Means Chocolate, Fair & Square
TCHO Source provides our farmer and scientist partners with the right tools to make the best cacao in the world. We also make bold infrastructure investments at origin, from flavor labs, fermentation centers, and raised drying beds to entire buildings where cocoa research can occur. And the proof is in the pudding; when we began sourcing cacao, we found only around 20% of the beans were up to our quality standards. Today that number is approximately 80%.
TCHO Source is what makes our chocolate special. It's why TCHO is Chocolate. Fair & Square.
A highlight of the TCHO Source program is the TCHO Flavor Lab, a mini bean-to-bar chocolate-making lab where farmers can take cacao beans they grow and make chocolate from them on the spot. We then provide sensory analysis training and work with our partners to develop a shared language to communicate and analyze cacao flavor. And when a partner farmer hits our high marks on quality, we pay them a TCHO Quality Premium on top of the fair trade and organic premiums we already pay.
We make bold infrastructure investments at origin, from fermentation centers and raised drying beds to entire buildings dedicated to cocoa quality research.
We provide sensory analysis training and work with our producer partners to develop a shared language to communicate about cacao flavor.
TCHO cannot be chocolate, fair & square without being transparent.
As a B Corp™ Certified company, our efforts towards meeting the highest social and environmental performance standards are verified by a third party and very public.
The fact is TCHO's been an open book for years. We have long let anyone inside our chocolate factory, sharing with them exactly how we ethically source cacao beans and make high-quality chocolate. We share the blueprint for TCHO Flavor Labs and are proud that we built a concept replicated many times worldwide. We also list where we source our cacao, sharing exactly how we trace every bean used to make our chocolate.
Through our TCHO Source program, we partner with cooperatives at origins worldwide to find the flavors that make our chocolate so elevated and original. Each cacao origin has its unique genetics of the cacao plant (fancy people call this varietals). The soil, atmosphere, fermentation, and drying processes are different from origin to origin, all of which highly impact the flavor of the origin's cacao beans. Roasting also has a very high impact on the final taste, as just like in coffee, we have light to dark roasting levels across the board. Read more about how origins affect flavor over at Origin & Flavor.
What makes TCHO unique is how we have gone beyond simply purchasing cacao from origins, by partnering with cooperatives and investing in their resources. The key pillar of the TCHO Source program are our Flavor Labs, which allow us to co-create better cacao. And better cacao makes better chocolate.
Chocolate is just beginning its journey to understand how all the steps affect the final experience. TCHO is about bringing a curious mind to the entire process and asking how to make each step even better.
— Brad Kintzer, Chief Chocolate Maker