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To'ak - the World's Most Expensive Chocolate

February 12, 2022

To'ak - the World's Most Expensive Chocolate

Want to hear something mind-blowing…a single bar of chocolate weighing 1.76 ounces is $450! That’s right. Four hundred and fifty dollars! Let's explore why.

First some background. Craft chocolate is much different from mass produced. Just like coffee, wine, etc. Check out the ingredient list of a leading conventional chocolate bar (left) compared to the list from a craft maker (right): cane sugar and cacao.
Notice also the craft label has tasting notes. Craft chocolate is similar to craft coffee: beans have inherent flavors which are extracted during roasting and don’t need additives (aside from cane sugar). The range of flavors develop in the soil and are affected by altitude, climate etc.

Because craft chocolate doesn’t have additives, it’s inherently more expensive for 2 reasons: 
1) there’s more chocolate in the final product 
2) the cacao beans need to be naturally flavorful. So…like with our coffee beans, there is less supply of those.

One caveat: “inclusion” bars do have some additives (nibs, toffee, sea salt etc), but the same single origin chocolate makes up the base. As an example, Ritual Chocolate's Bourbon Barrel Aged bar also has cocoa butter. This used to be one of our most expensive bars...until To'ak ("Toe-ahk"). So let's get into they are exponentially more expensive. 

1) Like many luxury products, it starts at origin: To’ak’s cacao is grown in Manabi, Ecuador, which is to cacao what Burgundy is to wine. It has the ideal soil and climate.
toak chocolate
2) Farming is "dry", which means they do not irrigate their cacao. So To'ak's harvests highlight the terroir and varies each year according to weather (like coffee and wine).

3) Scarcity: beans are harvested from only 14 farms and come from the rarest variety, pure 100% Nacional. They painstakingly sift through beans in 6 manual phases to find the most desirable
toak chocolate
4) To’ak is sustainable and invests in conservation. eg. all wood they use for boxed packaging is replenished by planting native hardwood trees.

to'ak chocolate art series  

Their least expensive bars include the 2019 Rain Harvest 75% ($35) and Pu'er Tea Aged 73% ($40)  We can barely keep these bars in stock! But why do prices go up exponentially?

Some chocolates are aged 18 months (or longer) in a 50-year-old cognac cask. Some in whiskey, bourbon, PX sherry, or tequila casks. Aging helps soften tannins, and by aging in casks, the chocolates develop deep flavors and aromas. This bar, aged for 3 years in an Islay Whiskey cask, costs $200!.
to'ak chocolate     to'ak chocolate
Have you seen this profile in a conventional bar? 
Nose: Fruity caramel with a citric zest.
Palate: Soft fruit and butterscotch with a sweet agave twang, touch of vanilla and nutmeg.
Finish: Sweet buttery caramel, slightly smokey wood, honey.

But $450...for a single bar?! That's To'ak's 77% Guayasamín art series bar...and it is truly a piece of art. The bar pays tribute to renown artist Oswaldo Guayasamín who painted in dualities: cruelty and tenderness, life and death.

It arrives in a crafted wood box with wood tweezers (so you don't contaminate the bar with your finger oils). It also includes a drawing by Guayasamín. The chocolate was aged 3 years and is a blend of their 2015 "light" and "dark" (duality theme) harvest.

to'ak art series

Experience notes:
Nose: Tobacco, caramel, floral, woody.
Palate: Woody, buttery caramel, tobacco, honey, dark fruits, softly floral, earthy, nutty.
Finish: Honey, toffee, earthy, nutty.

With luxury items, high prices reflect the artistry, craftsmanship, scarcity, taste and overall experience. That is To'ak's $450 Art Series bar.

toak chocolate

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