To’ak Chocolate: Elevating the Art of Chocolate Making
In 2014, Jerry Toth and Carl Schweizer (co-founders of Toak Chocolate) embarked on a journey that would transform the world of chocolate. Their mission was simple, yet revolutionary: to master the art of chocolate making, turning it into an art form by harnessing the exquisite flavors of pure Nacional cacao from Ecuador, the birthplace of chocolate.
A Blend of Tradition and Innovation
For chocolate connoisseurs, To’ak’s gourmet bars are more than just chocolate; they are a symphony of nuanced flavors that elevate the chocolate experience to new heights. By blending ancient traditions with innovative techniques, To’ak not only supports local communities, but also redefines exotic chocolate, offering a product that balances subtlety and complexity.
The founding of To’ak Chocolate was as serendipitous as it was destiny. After moving to Ecuador in 2007 and establishing an ecological reserve on the coast of Manabi, Jerry Toth stumbled upon an ancient grove of Nacional cacao trees. Together with Carl Schweizer, they immersed themselves in years of research and experimentation, learning from fourth-generation farmer Servio Pachard to unlock the deep and complex flavors of cacao.
From Ancient Trees to Gourmet Bars
Sacred to the Mayo-Chinchipe culture and used as currency by ancient Latin American peoples, Nacional cacao is a rare treasure today. To’ak’s commitment to preserving this pure strain is evident in its meticulous 36-step production process, which uses hand-picked beans and limited batch sizes to ensure unparalleled quality.
Each To’ak chocolate bar is a testament to the depth of flavor that can be achieved, similar to the complexity found in fine wines and spirits. Aged for 18 months in 50-year-old cognac or elm barrels, these bars are presented in handcrafted wooden boxes. Accompanied by a 116-page booklet detailing production nuances, including annual rainfall, and a guide to tasting the 80 percent dark chocolate, To’ak makes chocolate tasting an immersive experience.
Wooden tweezers are included in each box, allowing connoisseurs to taste the chocolate without transferring flavors from their hands, ensuring a pure taste experience. The guide also offers suggestions for pairing with aged spirits and wine, as well as tips for cleansing the palate to fully appreciate the rich layers of chocolate.
Commitment to Community and Sustainability
In addition to creating the world’s finest chocolate, To’ak is deeply committed to fair trade practices, paying local farmers well above market value for their cocoa beans. Their contributions extend to the community and the environment; Jerry and Carl donate a portion of their profits to local cocoa farmers and invest in reforestation efforts within the Jama-Coaque Ecological Reserve.
As the reserve expands, To’ak’s founders are not only planting new Nacional trees, but also restoring the land with a variety of saplings, demonstrating their commitment to ecological preservation and sustainability.
Experience To’ak in Ecuador
For those intrigued by the story of To’ak and eager to explore the origins of chocolate, we can arrange To’ak Tasting experiences both in Quito and at Galapagos Safari Camp. Please contact one of our Safari Designers for further details.