TCHO (“cho”), a pioneering craft chocolate maker based in Berkeley, Calif., is replacing its milk chocolate-based bars with plant-based dairy alternatives and introducing a complete packaging makeover. Beginning today, six new bars will join the TCHO line, gradually replacing the remaining supply of TCHO’s milk-chocolate-based bars, like Toffee + Sea Salt and Classic Milk. The company’s colorful and fun new packaging will debut across the entire retail product line to underscore the move to plant-based ingredients, with a commitment to making the entire product line animal free by 2023.
“Reducing our reliance on dairy is one of the quickest ways TCHO can lighten our impact on the environment. While this will not be an easy transition for us, we know it’s the right one,” said Josh Mohr, Vice President of Marketing at TCHO. “From the beginning, TCHO has been committed to working with our farming partners in the field, improving farming techniques, bettering soil conditions and doing what we can to help minimize deforestation--all of which speaks to a plant-based model.”
Now the entire TCHO retail line is Certified Fair Trade, Certified Organic, vegan, gluten free, kosher and made from 100% plants. TCHO’s professional baking line, used in restaurant kitchens and bakeries nationwide, will be plant based in early 2022. The company also recently achieved Certified B Corp status as a result of its work to improve the lives of its workers, customers, suppliers, and the local community.
“This was an exciting opportunity to make chocolate that further reflects our values,” said Brad Kintzer, Chief Chocolate Maker for TCHO and President of the Fine Chocolate Industry Association. Kintzer has been working with his team for three years to develop the perfect plant-based chocolate formula. “The spirit of TCHO is rooted in the idea of accepting challenges and trying to bring them to life. Taking out dairy and focusing entirely on plants opened up a whole new world for us. We’re proud of the unique flavor profiles we’ve created. Our alt-milk is an entirely new cacao experience.”
TCHO’s six plant-based chocolate bars make their debut on TCHO.com and come in new, square-shaped packaging ($5.99/2.5oz bar). These flavors will eventually replace all remaining retail chocolate bars:
- Toffee Time -- Made with a meticulously crafted non-dairy base of cashew butter, coconut sugar, oat milk and cacao, this alt-milk chocolate bar is flecked with sea salt and vegan toffee pieces.
- Aww Nuts! -- A dark chocolate bar filled with small batch California almonds finely ground into a crunchy almond butter with a hint of Pacific sea salt.
- Choco Latté -- A rich and bold coffee truffle filled with plant-based oat milk chocolate and organic coffee beans from Blue Bottle Coffee. Creamy, caramelly, and energizing.
- Holy Fudge -- An organic single-origin Ghanaian dark chocolate bar reminiscent of crispy brownie edges with a dense, fudgy center.
- Born Fruity -- An organic single-origin Peruvian dark chocolate bar with deep fruity notes and a sweet and crisp finish.
- Dark Duo -- An outer shell made with chocolatey cacao from Holy Fudge, filled with the lush fruit-forward cacao of Born Fruity.
The plant-based bars join five existing retail baking bags that have been renamed and redesigned as part of the rebrand: Hawt Chocolate drinking chocolate, Sweet & Sassy bittersweet baking chocolate, Dark & Bitter unsweetened baking chocolate, Super Powder cocoa powder and Crush This roasted cocoa nibs. These baking products were already naturally dairy free.
Since its founding, TCHO’s priority has been to make excellent Certified Fair Trade and Certified Organic chocolate products. In September 2021, TCHO was awarded Certified B Corp status as a result of its sustainability efforts through the TCHO Source Program and work to improve the lives of its workers, customers, suppliers, and the local community. As of November 2021, all of TCHO’s cacao is 100% Fair Trade and completely traceable back to its source. It is all part of TCHO’s continuing goal of setting higher standards for itself and the chocolate industry.
Related to its mission of crafting sustainably made chocolate, TCHO has transformed its packaging to be as environmentally friendly as possible. The easy-to-open and easy-to-close storable paper carton is fully recyclable, and the chocolate is wrapped in layers of 100% post consumer waste paper and certified compostable film.
A new tagline, “Chocolate. Fair & Square,” alludes to TCHO’s commitment to bringing dignity to the cocoa supply chain through its TCHO Source program, which invests in infrastructure, training, and higher, more fair wages at the source. TCHO’s transparent sourcing of high-quality, fair trade and organic ingredients comes together in an indulgent, award-winning square chocolate.
Everything about the new packaging has been designed to enhance the customer experience. The square box opens to reveal three individually wrapped portions instead of the previous single bar. These single-size portions are intended to make the chocolate easier to share or stow away for later. Once the bars are taken out of the package, a QR code is revealed, which redirects consumers to a page providing tracking information for the cacao from each bar.
“TCHO began as a very design-forward brand, and we wanted to celebrate and return to these roots,” said Mohr, who worked with brand design studio Super Okay to bring the craft and attention to detail back to TCHO. “Simple is always better. While we brightened the packaging with bold colors, it's the custom font that steals the show and gives each product its own personality. We then put the spotlight on our farmer relationships inside the package.”
Founded in 2007, TCHO Chocolate crafts award-winning and imaginative chocolate by collaborating directly with cocoa farmers at flavor labs across the world to grow better, more consistent cacao beans to create authentic craft chocolate to inspire the world’s chefs, hobby bakers, and chocolate enthusiasts. Like wine or coffee, cacao’s inherent flavors vary based on the terroir where it is grown, as well as on key processes, like fermentation or roasting, that influence the development of flavor.
Since not all cacao is created equal, TCHO established TCHO Source, a one-of-a-kind sourcing and educational partnership with farmers, co-operatives, and agronomists all over the world. By installing TCHO Flavor Labs in key cacao-producing locations, creating industry cacao sensory analysis standards, conducting sensory training, developing standardized fermentation and drying processes, improving infrastructure, and sharing information throughout the world of cacao, TCHO has turned its suppliers into co-creators. From there, TCHO hand-selects every ingredient used to craft its award-winning chocolates for a great experience from first glance to last bite. In 2021, TCHO was awarded Certified B Corp status, which brings transparent standards to the company’s long-standing sourcing practices and provides a new way to quantify and improve its social and environmental impact.
TCHO’s professional line is used by top chefs around the country and includes couvertures, drinking chocolate, cocoa powder and roasted cocoa nibs. In 2021, TCHO improved upon its stance as an exemplary chocolate maker by officially becoming SQF Level 2 certified, a rigorous globally recognized food safety standard administered by the Safe Quality Food Institute. TCHO products are produced in Berkeley, Calif. To learn more about TCHO, go to tcho.com.