TCHO New American Chocolate — another great reason to visit San Francisco

I hope you’re up for some fun today! We’re visiting TCHO New American Chocolate as part of our continuing Chocolatour through San Francisco–and now Berkley, as TCHO moved to Berkley on the east shore of San Francisco Bay following my visit to their downtown San Francisco factory location–a roughly 45-minute journey.


TCHO Chocolate received Chocolatour’s Award for Best North American Chocolate Bars.

I first tasted TCHO chocolate in 2012, and was equally impressed by the presentation (the look and feel of the packaging and the information provided on it) as I was by the intoxicating flavour of the chocolate itself. Whether you’re a purist, and just want to taste pure, unadulterated dark chocolate or you’re feeling playful and want to have some fun with your chocolate, TCHO has something for you.

I love TCHO’s Peruvian and Madagascar varietals, as you know from reading this blog that I am partial to the bright and fruity notes of chocolate that is on the acidic end of the taste spectrum. Both these TCHO flavours absolutely wake up all your chocolate-loving taste buds in a very vibrant fashion. TCHO’s Ecuadorian and Ghana chocolate are delicious as well, but in a smoother, more subtle way.

TCHO (pronounced CHO and a play of the first syllable of ‘chocolate’) also makes a nice milk chocolate for those of you who are not fans of dark chocolate. And I love their Mokaccino bar — a delightful marriage of locally roasted Blue Bottle coffee and TCHO’s Classic milk chocolate. But new for 2013 is the addition of three wild and crazy flavours that we had the opportunity to taste with chief chocolate maker, Brad Kintzer during our 2013 Chocolatour of San Fran.

visiting tcho chocolate is a fun experience 

tcho-chocolate offers tours

TCHO offered free public tours and private chocolate tours at a cost at their San Fran location. Tours at the Berkley location are not currently operating.

TCHO Chocolate used to offer short and snappy public tours of its chocolate factory located at Pier 17 on the city’s waterfront. The tour begins with a slideshow and explanation of the cacao-growing process and how cocoa becomes chocolate. TCHO sources its beans directly from cocoa farmers in Madagascar, Peru, Ecuador, and Ghana, and Kintzer actually goes to each location and roasts the beans at the origin where they were grown. The roasted beans are processed into pure chocolate liquor, and in a period of between three weeks and three months (depending on where the beans are coming from ) that arrives in San Francisco by ship and is then made into chocolate for consumers and couverture for commercial chefs.

tcho chocolate teaches farmers

TCHO Chocolate has put an emphasis on teaching the farmers how to grow the cacao, and how to properly ferment the beans in order to optimize the chocolate flavour they produce. But Kintzer doesn’t trust the roasting process to anyone else at this point in time. This man really loves chocolate and takes great pride in producing the purest and most perfect chocolate possible.


Brad Kintzer is chief chocolate maker at tcho chocolate.

But that doesn’t mean he’s always serious about it!  On October 1, 2013, TCHO released three new flavours that Kintzer dreamed up to appeal to the playful child in us for times when you just want to have some fun. Galactic Gelato combines 62% organic, fair trade chocolate with a mint gelato made by local favourite Gelateria Naia. Strawberry Rhubard Pie really does taste like its namesake, but is made from South American cocoa mixed with organic strawberries and chunks of organic pie crust. Sounds strange, but it really is good! And the TCHunky TCHOtella blends South American cocoa with organic roasted hazelnuts from Piedmont, Italy, and a touch of sea salt to create TCHO’s tribute to gianduja (called gianduiotto in Italy and profiled on this post.

Presently, TCHO only ships within the USA, but maybe if we non-US residents put the pressure on, they’ll begin sharing the delicious line of TCHO chocolate products with those of us north of the 49th parallel.

Since originally writing this post, I learned that TCHO moved their factory operation to Berkeley, California, from San Francisco. Please see their website for details and updates.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I researched and wrote Volume I of Chocolatour that won a Readers' favourite Award in 2014. Always enjoy experiencing new destinations and flavours.

10 Responses

  1. I am a big fan of TCHO. My husband goes to San Francisco once a year for a conference and makes a point of bringing a box home. I love the pure dark chocolate flavours. I can never decide which is my favourite — it seems to vary with the day. It might be a good thing that they don’t ship to Canada.

    • Hi Carolyn and welcome to my blog! Yes, TCHO is a marvellous chocolate maker. You’re right about our taste buds and preferences shifting from day to day. One day, you may prefer the Madagascan, another day the Peruvian because of what you may have consumed that day, your mood, the time of the month, etc. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you’ll drop in again soon. there’s always new chocolate to discover!
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Choco-Story Museum at UxmalMy Profile

  2. I love the thought behind the packaging of the chocolate. These are playful and fun, but sometimes the packaging is so elegant, it’s comes like a gift. It’s not just the packaging that demonstrates a wide variety of approaches either. When I read your posts I always think you must be a brilliant note taker because I don’t know how you can recall not just the different types of chocolate but the very different philosophies and focus the different producers utilize.
    Debra Yearwood recently posted…Saturday Morning Chit Chat – Invisibility Cloak, Magic or Mayhem?My Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Thanks very much for your vote of confidence, Debra. I’ve been a journalist for over 20 years, so the art of note-taking has become second nature. I find taking pics also helps revive the memory and keep the facts straight.

  3. Cheryl says:

    I love the names of the playful chocolate! That alone makes you want to try it. 🙂
    Cheryl recently posted…How To Prepare For The Best SAT ResultsMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Cheryl: Yes, that’s what I like about chocolate. It has so many different and distinct personalities. If you want fun, there are chocolate makers who will most appeal to you. If you want sensuous and exotic, there are chocolatiers who are best skilled to titillating your senses. I have an entire chapter in my book on this.

  4. Catarina says:

    Personally keep on being amazed at the variety of chocolates. It makes sense but most of us never give it a thought. We just buy chocolate that we like. The science behind is however fascinating and I learn a lot from you Doreen.
    Catarina recently posted…Will JFK & Jackie always be icons?My Profile

    • Doreen says:

      What I’m trying to do in Chocolatour is educate people about chocolate, encourage them to travel the world and explore the world of cacao and fine chocolate, and to try different flavours and varietals of chocolate that they never even knew existed. It is even more sumptuous than the world of fine wine, and it’s my job to get the word out!

  5. This is another chocolate store that I MUST go see. I do like the flavor possibilities. I think I’ll need to make day of chocolate touring. Wouldn’t that be fun? 🙂
    Susan Cooper recently posted…Pumpkin Pie In A Jar: RecipeMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Absolutely, Susan! That’s what Chocolatour is all about. Seeking out fine chocolate in every place you go. And, WOW! You have some really great chocolate in your part of CA. Lucky you! Enjoy, and may your coming week of Thanksgiving celebrations be filled with joy.

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