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TCHO Beta Bar Tasting (or, 3 smiles and a frown)

Happy to have received my "sample box" from SF corporate offices of TCHO this week, I could not WAIT to do an early morning tasting. I broker our new gift collections, just released this month, and it was like an early Christmas for me -- opening the express-delivered box and pulling out all the little brown paper squares and the slick-packaged new formulations. What JOY!! OH, and the smell of chocolate from a freshly opened shipping box!! Dreamy.

But on with it..there's tasting to be done.

For those unaware of the TCHO approach to our chocolate launch, the flavors were each released in beta versions to a public taster's circle that provided feedback until the formulation peaked in flavor. About a year ago I tried our first incarnation called "Chocolatey". I remember thinking it was like eating my mom's chocolate layer cake with loads of frosting, deep and rich in chocolate flavor. But that's the thing about tasting -- you need a comparison.

So here they are, lined up in front of me, the four siblings of TCHO - - chocolatey, fruity, citrus, and nutty.

First, I tear open each package, sticking my nose inside to breathe deeply. My first recording of differences starts here, with scent. The strong first impression fades quickly, so I write my notes immediately as the words come...

FRUITY - flowery, sweet, light roast
NUTTY - roasted, sour
CITRUS - sweet, sharp, chocolatey
CHOCOLATEY - grassy, tobacco, burnt caramel

Once the sharp smells dissipate, it's time to taste. I love to do my tastings first thing in the morning. It is such a pure experience. Four small squares later, here is what I recorded...

FRUITY - marshmallow, toasted marshmallow, vanilla, toasted banana, mellow sweetness, slight artificial sweet aftertaste
NUTTY - light smoke, antiseptic, dry
CITRUS - immediate tang, amazing tang, acidic but sweet, no smoke or roasted flavor, very clean and light
CHOCOLATEY - dried mixed fruit with spices, fruitcake (Collin Street Bakery, specifically!), sweet dried tobacco leaves

CITRUS was my session favorite, nutty was the only frown. In my sensory language, the label descriptions didn't match my first results, but what the hey, everybody's "taster" is different based on our realm of experience.

Was I channeling fruitcake because of holiday associations?

Marshmallows due to the need for accompanying graham crackers and chocolate over a fire?

Dunno. But I do know that I now have 4 opened packages of lovely TCHO chocolate...right here in front of me, and none of them will last long.

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Tags: TCHO, tasting

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Comment by Andy Ciordia on December 17, 2008 at 10:49am
We've been tasting TCHO since beta .77 of their Chocolate and really fell in love. When they finally hit .99 we started to trial some of their product in our truffles and the "Chocolate" version just took our breath away. It felt like the definition of chocolate to whatever extent that made. The Citrus and Fruity were very nice but on their own they seem to be missing something. I think if you drunk some dried cherries or other combinations into fruity it would shine and if we make orange truffles with citrus it will bring it all together but we've been waiting for their wholesale side to activate before we get really playful.

I haven't tried nutty yet but I'm disappointed that it didn't hit the same mark as the others in your world. We'll get there eventually and maybe by then it will have been refined more.

The guys at TCHO really do have their eye on the prize and they do it in such amazing style and DIY fashion.

Thanks for the reviews! Pleasure to read.

-andy

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