Rum soaked raisins are a classic combination added to some of our favorite desserts, like bread pudding, biscotti, fruitcake (yeah, we said it!), and best of all‚ ice cream. Turning the tables on this holiday favorite, TCHO took flavorful raisins and a generous punch of rum, and folded it into a rich, fudgy dark-milk chocolate. So, when the air is a good twenty degrees past chilly and snowflakes are swirling outside your window, we won't blame you if you want nothing to do with ice cream. Fear not! You can still get your Rum Raisin fix. Put down that scoop, break open a bar of Rum Raisin, kick back, relax, and imagine you're on a sunny island getaway.
It's called TCHO (pronounced Cho) and this company has taken responsible sourcing to a totally new level. Rather than simply buying beans, importing them, and selling the finished bars, TCHO is building partnerships to strengthen the business success of the farmers. They've developed a unique relationship where the growers are the ones who grade the beans and produce the chocolate liquor, sending it to California for the finishing flavorings and chocolate bar making.
In order to understand the difference, it helps to know what industry standard is. Farmers will typically send sample beans to producers here in the US. The samples are roasted, ground, turned into liquor, then analyzed for feedback. The process for each sampling would take 3-4 weeks, and many samples get rejected. When the sample is finally approved, the beans are sent, roasted here in the US, and made into the liquor. In 2009, TCHO partnered up with Equal Exchange to file for a grant through the U.S. Agency for International Development, hoping to find a way to not only grow and harvest better beans, but start building chocolate labs in the farming communities to shift the point of focus. Over the past eight years, TCHO has helped set up 10 labs across the world: three in Peru, four in Ecuador, one in the Dominican Republic, and two in Ghana. Each one takes about $5,000 to $7,000 and a ton of equipment being hand carried over, like roasters, winnowers, stone melangeurs, and small tempering units to name a few of the essentials. Once the labs were in place, they needed to build and train a team in the community that could taste and rate the beans, similar to a sommelier in the wine industry. Since everyone's palate is different and "earthy" or "astringent" aren't necessarily characteristics we readily know, they've spent hours on Skype with the tasters to make sure everyone is identifying the same characteristic in the same way. The result has been remarkable. Now, if TCHO wants a specific flavor profile, like extra fruity, they only need to ask and the growers can provide. This not only helps TCHO, but it helps the farmers as well. Now that they can find the flavor defects in their beans without outside help, they can get a higher price for their beans, making their business more successful. And by roasting on site, they retain a second step of the process, again, making their business more profitable and stronger for the future. The result for the consumer? One fabulous tasting chocolate bar.
- Made in USA
- Organic, Certified Kosher
- Ingredients: fair trade cacao beans, cane sugar, whole milk, fair trade cocoa butter, raisins, non-fat milk, soy lecithin, natural rum flavor (non-alcoholic), vanilla