A luxury brand of chocolate by the name of Toak takes the prize for purest and most expensive chocolate in the world. It’s fair trade, USDA organic-certified and exclusively sourced from rare cacao beans found in the South American nation of Ecuador.
You might be asking yourself, what makes this chocolate so special? In order to truly understand that, a bit of Ecuadorian history is necessary.
At the turn of the 20th century, Ecuador was the world’s largest exporter of cacao beans, the main ingredient in chocolate. Suddenly, a devastating fungal disease called “Witches’ Broom,” swept through the nation and destroyed all the cacao trees.
This forced the natives to plant foreign varieties, with the heirloom, native trees scattered to protective pockets. It produced delicious chocolate but could never measure up to the rare original fino y de aroma cacao, according to the Mother Nature Network.
Then, in 2002, while helping to maintain a 1,000 rainforest preserve, former Wall Street Analyst Jerry Toth decided to pass the time by harvesting cacao from semi-wild trees and making chocolate. Enjoying the hobby, he befriended a fourth-generation grower named Servio Pachard, who shared a secret with him: the location of some heirloom trees.
“Servio led us to the valley of Piedra de Plata, unconnected by roads to the rest of the country until as recently as 1990,” Toth writes on his site. “The Nacional Arriba cacao trees that we found in this valley were typically very old, sometimes more than one hundred years of agerelics of Arriba cacao before disease and hybridization changed the genetic landscape of Ecuadorian cacao.”
After finding the cacao in these trees, Toth co-founded To’ak Chocolate, which he describes as “made with the care of a vintage winemaker and the precision of a premium small-batch whiskey.” Youll think the exact same thing when you check out the To’ak site. Everything from how the beans are fermented, selected, split, and then turned into chocolate is explained in great detail.
Our beans are subjected to six different phases of hand-selectionin each phase, we remove beans that are deemed too small, under-ripe or over-ripe or imperfectly fermented, Toth told Fortune.
The chocolate bars contain only cocoa and cane sugar, both of which are organically grown. To’ak’s production process is so intensive and small, that for 2014 the company released only 574 bars.
Each 50-gram bar costs $260 and comes in a wooden box made from Spanish Elm, the same local wood used to ferment the beans.
If you decide to indulge and buy a chocolate bar of such purity and simplicity, you must first cleanse the palate (fresh green apple and water are recommended).
When you break off a piece of the chocolate, do not do so with your hands because the oils on your fingertips can “corrupt” the taste.
You must either use the bar’s wrapping or the included wooden tongs. Yes this chocolate is so fancy you need tongs to eat it.
As for the taste, I cant testify to it, but Forbes’ Marissa Conrad was fortunate enough, describing it as “a rich, deep, pleasantly bitter flavor with surprisingly fruity undertonesthough theres no fruit added, the Arriba bean unleashes a natural sweetness Ive never tasted in another chocolate.”
For 2015, Toth told Fortune that he plans on doubling the harvest, with the production of 1,200 bars.
To’ak will also release an aged portion of its 2014 production (about 400 bars) as part of a 2014 One-Year Reserve.
As the business grows, he says the ecological values that it started with will be retained. “This venture was ultimately born from a conservation project. Were trying to maintain that same standard with Toak,” he said.
If you are interested in buying one, hurry because there are only 243 bars from the 2014 “First Edition” release still remaining. Grab one here.