TCHO, part 1: chocolate origins.

Xeni and Pesco visit TCHO, a homebrew chocolate technology startup hacked together by a space shuttle technologist, Timothy Childs, and the founder of Wired, Louis Rosetto.

In part one of BBtv's multi-part exploration of Tcho, we begin in the lab, and learn about the origins of chocolate: it's a weird looking fruit with biological roots in faraway tropical lands. How this fruit is cultivated, harvested, and cured determines the flavor of the final product, and we learn about the hedonics -- the sensual nuances -- of this exotic and temperamental element.

Related: read a feature about TCHO by David Pescovitz in the current issue of MAKE Magazine, Timothy and the Chocolate Factory.

Here are some iPhone snapshots from Xeni on Flickr: TCHO, Boing Boing tv.

(Special thanks to Amy Critchett, and Wayne & Breanna)

About Xeni Jardin

Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email:
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24 Responses to TCHO, part 1: chocolate origins.

  1. monkey says:

    i hope you got enough free samples to whip up a batch or three of open source truffles!

  2. Doomstalk says:

    Is the episode cutting of at around 1:13 for anyone else?

  3. Xeni Jardin says:

    @DOOMSTALK — yes, there’s a temporary video glitch here, should be cleared up in about 10 minutes from the time I post this comment. Details: the video was inadvertently coded at a really high bitrate, which would cause problems for some viewers, so the folks who handle our video publishing are re-encoding on the fly. Eventually we hope to have variable bitrate, so this won’t be an issue. Sorry!

  4. themindfantastic says:

    @Doomstalk I find it did as well… I downloaded the mp4 instead and there was no problem.

  5. Xeni Jardin says:

    Yes, yes — here’s the MP4, if you’re experiencing Flash problems they’ll be fixed in a few minutes, but the MP4 works perfectly!

    Apols guys!

  6. Xeni Jardin says:

    Looks like the video’s working fine in both formats now, sorry for the hiccup.

  7. Bonnie says:

    But where are the Boing Boing Oompa Loompas?!

  8. ahasz says:

    There still seem to be audio problems – after the verizon ad there’s picture but no sound, same on the mp4 – anyone else?

  9. littlelloyd says:

    Same sound dropout ofter the FiOS ad for me. And the Flash Video drops out after the minute or so.

  10. Xeni Jardin says:

    Ugh, @#8, #9, you are correct, and this is a known issue. I’ll post an update as soon as this is fixed.

  11. Xeni Jardin says:

    UPDATE: aaaand we’re all set, as far as I can tell. Audio should be working just fine, and the MP4 and Flash should be working just fine. Sincere apols for the technical problems today, guys!

  12. Linds says:

    Flash player worked all the way to the credits for me.

    dammit now i wanna taste beans at every step of the way

  13. Bledsoefilms says:

    Hey All!! Tech problems blow…

    But chocolate sure is good. Let me tell you what happens you you put TCHO chocolate in your mouth:

    From the first bite, your mouth kinda starts to water. The chocolate starts to go on this flavor wave- first a little nutty, then kinda buttery, but then it gets really fruity… then the aftertaste is kinda fudgy ….

    Another fun triva question: There is NO water in cacao beans. This being the case, how do you think they get the sugar to bond with the crushed beans to make chocolate?

    Derek Bledsoe
    Segment Producer, BBtv

  14. Xeni Jardin says:

    [ munching on, um, a review unit of TCHO chocolate here in the BBtv studios… nom nom nom… god this stuff is good. ]

  15. Trix says:

    “Hedonics”? I’m all across new words when one doesn’t exist yet (lolcats!), but what’s wrong with “sensual/sensuousness”? It doesn’t just refer to sex, it’s about what has an impact on the senses.

    Still, interesting doco, although I think most chocophiles these days are aware that the beans should be treated with the same kind of reverence and in a similar manner to top-quality coffee.

  16. Xeni Jardin says:

    Hey #15TRIX,

    “sensual” and “hedonic” are related, I agree, but they do have different meanings (I’m looking at both definitions in Websters right now). I understand why Timothy chose that word, and refers to it in the context of explaining the science and the subjective experience of consuming chocolate.

    I hope you dig the next installments! We’ll get into the machines and a taste-test next.

  17. maryofkentucky says:

    That was really interesting, I enjoyed watching it. Thanks 🙂

  18. Aloisius says:

    Another fun triva question: There is NO water in cacao beans. This being the case, how do you think they get the sugar to bond with the crushed beans to make chocolate?

    Hmm. What an interesting question.

    I don’t think sugar is actually dissolved inside of chocolate. Don’t you just powder the sugar, mix it with the chocolate liquor and run it under a grinder at say, 150F for 8 hours?

    I imagine you could use an emulsifier when you need to use relatively high amounts of sugar to smooth it out. I’ve seen letchin listed on chocolate bar ingredients, so I imagine that’s what it is for. I think some chocolate makers also add more cocoa butter to the mix which should also smooth it out.

    Now I feel like I need to go out and do some research!

  19. Bledsoefilms says:


    Not a bad guess. But no Cigar.

    Keep on trying.

    Stay tuned for the next TCHO episode for the answer!!!

    Derek Bledsoe
    Segment Producer, BBtv

  20. monkey says:

    since cocao beans are bursting at the seams with cocoa butter, i’d think that sugar would bond with that to make the tasty treat we know today as chocolate.

  21. AirPillo says:

    Oh for god’s sake, even you guys are doing the “crank volume up to 11 during advertisements” thing?

    Do you really think the analog to walking up behind someone while they watch a video and shouting “HEY!!! THIS COMPANY SPONSORED THIS!!! WE WANTED TO MAKE SURE YOU NOTICED THAT!!!” is going to elicit a positive response from people?

    I watched this at a volume where the dialog in the actual content is at a rather quiet level where it’s easy not to hear it, then it cuts into the advertisement which is literally shouting at me in terms of volume. If I wanted to clearly hear the part of the video I wanted to watch, at a somewhat loud volume, my ears would ring after the advertisement because of how vastly louder the volume is at that point.

    That’s not cool… really, really not cool.

  22. Xeni Jardin says:

    @#21 AirPillo, hm, that doesn’t sound good.

    we’ll take a look at that.

    it’s not a malicious secret premeditated plot to piss off our viewers — more likely a technical issue with the service provider that outputs and inserts the ads.

  23. AirPillo says:

    Oh, my apologies, I assumed it was intentional, as it often is with advertisements on television. In my defense I did have that precedent to be presumptuous, but was presumptuous nonetheless.

    Sorry about that. Thanks for looking into it though, it was getting to be rather jarring, and it seems to occur recurringly across episodes.

    I’m sure on itty little 2-speaker setups it’s not a big deal, but with a larger audio system that big a volume difference can be almost painful to be surprised with.

    I retract my snark, I was probably still grumpy about spilling a drink on my keyboard.

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