PROTO: Timothy and the Chocolate Factory

How a space shuttle technologist and the founder of Wired magazine hacked together a homebrew chocolate lab.

By David Pescovitz Photography by Doug Adesko

VISITING TCHO IS THE MAKER’S EQUIVALENT of winning one of Willy Wonka’s Golden Tickets. The new chocolate company, headquartered in a vast warehouse on San Francisco’s Pier 17, is a sweet blend of DIY ingenuity, self-taught science, and online community. From hacking together a homebrew chocolate lab for $5,000 instead of buying a $100,000 “pro” system, to tricking out a 30-year-old chocolate factory line shipped over from Germany, TCHO ( embodies a maker mindset that its founder calls “scrappy not crappy.”

“I was a technologist working on things ...

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