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Vegan chocolate is about to get a whole lot sweeter: well-loved Berkeley, California-based chocolate brand TCHO recently announced that its product line will be entirely vegan as soon as 2023.
Founded by NASA alumnus Timothy Childs and forty-year chocolate veteran Karl Bittong, TCHO was already considered to be a forward-thinking confectionary company when it first launched in 2004. The brand immediately committed to working with exclusively fair trade and organic ingredients — no exceptions — and has since expanded to working directly with cacao cooperatives around the world and investing in their resources to ensure not just better chocolate but a better experience for all involved.
The recent decision to alter all of its chocolate products to dairy-free and plant-based recipes just takes that commitment to sustainability one step further.
“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,” explained Josh Mohr, Vice President of Marketing at TCHO.“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.”
TCHO already offers a range of vegan chocolate flavors, including dark chocolate options like the Holy Fudge bar, Dark & Bitter baking chocolate, and Crush This roasted cocoa nibs. But the challenge comes with developing light, creamy, milk chocolate-like products that satisfy the sweet teeth of vegans and non. For those, the team got to work developing dairy-free alternatives that meet the company’s standards for taste and sustainability.
“This was an exciting opportunity to make chocolate that further reflects our values,” Brad Kintzer, Chief Chocolate Maker at TCHO, said of his process and the brand’s overall desire to catch up to its beliefs and morals as a company and tastemaker in the luxury confectionery space.
According to Kintzer, the vegan chocolate products took three years of research and development that resulted in new and exciting ways to replicate the taste and flavor of the existing TCHO offerings, while also coming up with a whole new line of sustainable and plant-based chocolate.
The soon-to-be vegan chocolate company has already begun to roll out a handful of new plant-based offerings, including Toffee Time, an English-inspired toffee oat milk chocolate bar with sea salt flakes; Aww Nuts!, a fudge-coated, sustainably-sourced almond bar; and Choco Latte, ethically-sourced coffee beans smothered in plant-based milk chocolate and creamy cashew butter.
“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,” explained Kintzer. “We’re proud of the unique flavor profiles we’ve created. Our alt-milk is an entirely new cacao experience.”