The Tcho Chocolate Tour In San Francisco

Last weekend was Stephanie’s birthday, so we did all kinds of cool stuff including the Tcho chocolate factory tour in San Francisco. I decided to have it be part of her birthday weekend extravaganza for a few important reasons.

1. Timing: The tour was early on Saturday morning, but not too early which means it gets us out of bed, but it’s not too painful. The tour that we took started at 10:30am, so we had time to get up, get moving and grab some breakfast before heading over.

2. Location: The Tcho factory is right in the middle of the awesomeness that is the Embarcadero. More specifically it’s in the Pier 17 building, which is less than 2 miles from our apartment. It was a beautiful day out and Stephanie loves to walk, so it made for a nice little morning stroll.

3. Learning: One thing I learned after Stephanie and I did a tour of the Korbel Champagne Cellars in Sonoma for our anniversary was that we both really enjoy doing fun things that help us learn more about the stuff we like. Going all through Korbel and learning about how champagne is made was a lot of fun for us and it also gave us some great fun facts that we can use at parties (did you know that the wires on champagne toppers are are twisted 6.5 rotations? Well, now you do.).

4. Chocolate: The only thing that Stephanie loves more than chocolate is Kool-Whip, so this tour was pretty much a no-brainer.

5. It’s Free: All of the Tcho tours are completely free, how awesome is that?

6. Weird Connection: Our first neighbor while living in Palo Alto was an early investor in Tcho, so he would always give us beta chocolate that looked like this so that we could give him feedback. That was over 3 years ago, so it’s cool to see how far along the company has come since then.

Some of the highlights for me included learning all about how chocolate is made, where it comes from and what the real ingredients are. It was also interesting to hear about how other larger chocolate companies like Hershey’s make their chocolate and how Tcho differentiates themselves in the market. Being from the startup world, it was also really cool to see how innovative they are with how they run their factory and create their product. Getting to wear hairnets was fun, too and some of the guys there had to wear beard nets, which I had never seen before.

The ultimate highlight for both of us was the tasting at the end of the tour. This is where we had the chance to taste all the different types of chocolate that Tcho has to offer. There were six in total and they were all separated out individually so that we could taste them one at a time. We were guided by our awesomely excited tour guide Jose through each of them, starting with the darkest, hardest chocolate (which also has the strongest taste) and ending with their lightest, softest.

Just as if we were at a wine tasting in Nappa, Jose was sure to let us know how to properly taste the chocolate. First you warm it up in your hand, then you smell it, then you hold it up to your ear while you snap it in half so that you can hear it and then the best part — you put it in your mouth and let it melt so that that you can get the full flavor that Tcho has to offer. Never bite into the chocolate. Ever.

While we were tasting all of the different flavors Jose would sprinkle in some entertaining color commentary and wouldn’t hold back his contagious sense of passion and excitement for chocolate. So much so that I’m not sure which was more memorable, the chocolate or Jose.

photo by Lisa Goell Sinicki

If you’re wanting to check out the Tcho factory tour there are two daily times that you can sign up for — 10:30am and 2pm and you can schedule your time over here. I would highly recommend the tour to any couple for a fun daytime date or to a group of friends who are looking for something cool to do while in San Francisco. Both locals and tourists will have a good time learning about and tasting some tasty chocolate that’s unique to San Francisco. If you end up going be sure to get there at least 10 minutes early, bring some money to buy some of the chocolate (they give you a 10% off coupon to use that day) and don’t wear open-toed shoes.

Want more info on Tcho? Here you go. [view on YouTube]


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  1. We admire and love TCHO too. Their approach to chocolate is unique: focused on flavor profile (citrusy, nutty…) rather than cocoa percentage. How can tell the difference between 60 and 65% cocoa after all?
    This chocolate tour and tasting experience is a great bday gift indeed!

    • Hup

      Hey Fred, they’re definitely doing something that’s very unique and innovative in the chocolate space. I was also happy to hear that they have a huge emphasis on how the cacao is farmed as well, which is why they’ve spent a lot of time, money and resources on partnering up with specific farmers and helping them grow. My wife and I really enjoyed the tour and I if you’re ever out in SF and want to go, let me know — I would definitely do it again (if not just for the sampling alone).

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