To’ak was born from a rainforest conservation project that co-founder Jerry Toth started in Ecuador in 2007. It was here that he began cultivating cacao trees and making chocolate by hand in a thatched bamboo house secluded in the middle of the forest.
Derived from a fusion of ancient dialects in Ecuador the name To’ak (pronounced Toe-Ahk) means “earth” and “tree” which together represent the true source of all chocolate. The rare Ecuadorian cacao variety called “Nacional” traces its genetic lineage back at least 5300 years to the first known cacao trees domesticated by humanity. By the dawn of the 21st century this famed variety was believed to be extinct. In the valley of Piedra de Plata To’ak found old-growth cacao trees that have been confirmed by DNA tests to be 100% pure Nacional. They have since been designated Heirloom by the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund. Today To’ak is working with local farmers the rainforest conservation foundation Third Millennium Alliance and multiple universities and international research institutes to preserve the pure Nacional genotype through grafting and propagation.
After years of honing his passion Jerry linked up with co-founder Carl Schweizer and fourth-generation Ecuadorian cacao grower Servio Pachard with the mission to radically change the way the world experiences dark chocolate elevating its making and tasting onto the level of vintage wine and aged whisky. As tree-to-bar chocolate makers we draw heavily from the techniques and tradition of both winemakers and whisky distilleries.
As with wine the flavor characteristics of dark chocolate vary according to the soil and climate in which the cacao was grown. At To’ak we make our chocolate to express the land and weather idiosyncrasies of each specific year.
In ancient times chocolate was considered sacred and noble. Then in the industrial era it was commodified and mass-produced. To’ak is working to restore chocolate to its former grandeur and push its boundaries to new horizons.