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The culinary process, as we all know, is both an art and a science. But out in Silicon Valley, it can tend to the latter. The San Francisco-based company TCHO, run by a former NASA software developer, brings an arsenal of technology to a matter of grave importance: chocolate.

As the Associated Press reports, premium chocolate is no longer the exclusive domain of Swiss artisans—California entrepreneurs are making their own mark on the industry. At TCHO, Timothy Childs experiments with a huge variety of equipment, from modified spice grinders to hyper-modern heat sensors, in order to best extract flavor from the choicest cacao beans. Not all beans are created equal; like wine grapes, different varieties grown in different locations yield a wide array of flavors. In order to better explain the depth of flavor hiding in the cacao, TCHO has drawn up a six-point “flavor wheel,” classifying the taste from “Citrus” to “Earthy” to “Floral”—the notes present in the finer specimens of chocolate. Now, TCHO now aims to create a bar that best exemplifies each flavor, visiting Ghana and Peru to seek out the best beans in the world.

So far, TCHO has released the rich, smooth “Chocolatey” from Ghana, the “Fruity” from the Peruvian savannah, and the more subtle “Nutty” from a small Peruvian cooperative. All organic, fair-trade, and 70% cacao, TCHO hopes to one day break into the culinary and high-end retail markets. For now, however, the “Beta” version of their chocolate can only be found online—whence your brown-wrapped, sparingly-labeled, rich dark chocolate will be shipped from their San Francisco warehouse.

Good things come in plain packages.
Full AP article can be found here from; photo courtesy of TCHO.


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