When I heard of TCHO (pronounced “choh,” the T is silent), I was quite excited to learn that a new bean-to-bar operation had decided to ply its chocolaty wares in the quickly growing arena of small-scale artisan producers. In a little more than three years, seven such companies have sprung up (DeVries, Amano, Askinosie, Patric, Taza, Rogue, and now TCHO) with such a speedy inertia that England is now getting in on the fun.
Surprisingly, TCHO is the first company since Scharffen Berger to make California its home base. What’s also a surprise is the origin they chose to represent all their hard work thus far: Ghana. That may seem like a dirty word to most connoisseurs, but thanks to such makers as Theo, Ghana is slowly becoming an origin to be reckoned with.
Apparently, TCHO sees the viability in the origin as well, and with their beta bar, coaxes out some mighty good flavor that needs only a slight bit of tweaking to perfect. Unlike most Ghana chocolates that are shallow in flavor, TCHO has captured plenty of fruitiness, namely citrus and plums, and never compromised the strength of the chocolate either.
TCHO did, however, go a little too crazy on the vanilla, so much so, you’ll be wondering if they modeled the bar after a Lindt Madagascar or Ecuador bar. This flavor I can do without, so it would be nice to see TCHO omit the vanilla altogether because as many makers are proving nowadays, it certainly is a superfluous ingredient.
The texture isn’t up to snuff either, melting with a negligible amount of grain that can be overlooked, but it’s definitely something that needs to be ironed out.
Overall, the chocolate is bold, fruity, yet somewhat cookie-like with its heavy emphasis on vanilla. It wants to be serious, but it’s still trapped in childhood. I think this is a good start for the company, and in some ways it’s comparable to Jacques Torres’ entry as a bean-to-bar outfit. Both chocolates are promising, but definitely reflective of makers who are trying to get things right.