I’m always happy to post a story about new developments in chocolate, and this is a good one. Tcho chocolate can be found in places like Starbucks and Whole foods, and set out the taste characteristics of their produce with a pie chart to tell you which flavours to expect: chocolatey, bright, fruity, floral, earthy, and nutty. What’s really interesting is that Tcho doesn’t just go looking for sources of chocolate with the characteristics it want; it actually trains farmers in helping to develop them. It provides cacao farmers with coffee roasters, spice grinders, and modified hair dryers, plus customized groupware for sharing taster notes and samples with chocolate makers. Farmers learn to recognize the flavours in fermented, roasted and ground cacao beans, and what techniques can bring them up to the standards that Tcho and other buyers require. The process is complicated, but through it Tcho has achieved a quality control that many tasters think makes for better chocolate than the international mass producers manage to obtain. And producing more and better chocolate can never be a bad thing – the more so if it improves things for the cacao farmers in the process.
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