Tcho, a bean-to-bar chocolate company in San Francisco, has a unique program where you can help “beta taste” their new products. (The company was started by Louis Rossetto and Jane Metcalfe, the founders of Wired magazine—hence the techie lingo.) What it means is you can buy a sample online of the latest chocolates the company is testing (right now it’s two milk versions), receive them in the mail, then give your feedback on the company’s website. You rate the candy based on traits like “caramel notes,” “overall sweetness,” “creaminess,” and “overall chocolateyness.” Ostensibly, the company makes tweaks to the product based on consumer feedback, but I suspect they mainly use the comments to name the final versions. (Tcho chocolates are named based on their predominant taste, e.g., “Citrus” and “Nutty.”)

When I was there, I tried one of the beta chocolates, and they told me what they thought it tasted like but made me vow not to print it. “We don’t want to influence what our beta testers think it tastes like,” said Brad Kintzer, the company’s chief chocolate maker.

Tcho is releasing a new beta chocolate each week between now and late June, when the NY Fancy Foods Show takes place. I think it would be cool to show up to somebody’s dinner party with a bunch of these little things (they cost $5 for a two-pack), taste them, and talk about them as a group. Oh, and by the way, the chocolate is really, really good.

Image by Lessley Anderson

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