Despite its youth and size, San Francisco-based chocolate maker Tcho is making large-scale efforts to improve the global cocoa market, starting with Ghana.

The company is collaborating with the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) to introduce a “Flavor Lab” at the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana to show farmers the direct link between quality at the farm level and increased value for their product.

“We are proud to partner with Tcho to bring this innovative program to Ghana,” says Bill Guyton, WCF’s president. “We'll build upon Ghana's strong cocoa culture, by improving flavor and value, and will be able to reinvest increased quality back into cocoa communities."

In addition to a trained flavor panel, The Flavor Lab will allow farmers to taste chocolate from their own beans – a first-time experience in most cases – and teach them how product quality is dependent on good fermentation and drying methods.

"Tcho is honored to partner with the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana and the World Cocoa Foundation to help make a difference for cocoa farmers in West Africa," said John Kehoe, Tcho’s v.p. – sourcing and development.

Tcho’s involvement in the project can be partially credited to German retailer Tengelmann Group, who along with its U.S. subsidiary, Emil Capital Partners LLC, purchased $5.7 million of the company’s shares.

“Already well-established in its marketplace, TCHO's commitment to continuous innovation by providing “moments of true delight for chocolate lovers” together with the highest quality standards in sourcing and production of one of the finest chocolates in the world, makes them a perfect fit with Emil's investment philosophy,” says Andreas Guldin, Emil Capital Partners’ ceo.

In addition to its venture in Ghana, the money will help expand every aspect of Tcho’s business, including distribution, facilities, sales activities and the creation of new products.