As a self-proclaimed chocolate enthusiast, I have had my fair share of cocoa delights, from the humblest of chocolates to the most exquisite truffles. Hence when the good folks from To’ak shared that they would like to send me some of their chocolates for review, it got me excited.
Touted as the most expensive chocolate in the world, this brand takes the concept of fine chocolate to a whole new level.
To’ak’s claim to fame lies in its use of the rare Ecuadorian Nacional cacao variety, a genetic lineage that is claimed to date back over 5,300 years. Once believed to be extinct, To’ak touted to not only revive this ancient cacao but also turned it into a work of art.
When you go through their website and their branding material, including the packaging for their products, you will see that To’ak smartly marketed their products like fine wine and other luxury items, selling in limited collections, categorising their products by ‘cask’ and by year of cacao harvest.
It is all super sleek and just for the packaging and branding alone, the brand tag is justified if you are looking for an exquisite gift to send to someone special or someone you are looking to impress.
Delving into the world of To’ak, here’s what I discovered.
The Birth of To’ak Chocolate
To’ak’s journey began as a rainforest conservation project in Ecuador in 2007. Co-founder Jerry Toth’s non-profit organisation, the Third Millennium Alliance, created the Jama-Coaque Ecological Reserve, which not only protects acres of coastal rainforest but also became the birthplace of To’ak Chocolate.
To’ak’s distinction lies in its commitment to preserving the legacy of the Ecuadorian Nacional cacao variety and its chocolate aging program. Just as fine wines allow us to taste the essence of the grape’s origin, To’ak invites connoisseurs to savour the land and the year in which the cacao was harvested.
They age their chocolate in various casks, including Cognac, Whisky, Bourbon, and more, each imparting its unique aroma compounds to the chocolate. This aging process results in a flavor and aroma that evolves with time, akin to a fine wine.
The Enriquestuardo Chocolate Experience
One of To’ak’s most prized creations is the Master Series Enriquestuardo chocolate, priced at a staggering US$490 for 50g. I have not tried it, but this creation is To’ak’s claim to the title of the most expensive chocolate brand in the world. It is launched in partnership with Enrique Estuardo Alvarez Cruz, aka Enriquestuardo, a revered modern artist from Ecuador.
This edition is said to not only showcases To’ak’s commitment to Ecuador’s ancient traditions but also celebrates the richness of Ecuadorian cacao. The chocolate, matured for eight years, is said to offer a delicate yet complex flavor profile, featuring notes of buttery caramel, plum honey, and cashew. It comes encased in a sustainably sourced Spanish Elm wood box and paired with Enriquestuardo’s original artwork.
Tasting To’ak Chocolate
Experiencing To’ak chocolate is an art in itself. The brand encourages you to engage all five senses when indulging in their creations.
From inspecting the chocolate’s appearance to listening for that satisfying snap when you break off a piece, each step is a sensory journey. The aroma, texture, and flavor are meticulously designed to captivate your senses and take you on an exquisite chocolate adventure.
We got to admit, the outboxing experience was pretty delightful and brings a sense of wonderment.
Our Tasting Adventure
We had the pleasure of trying the 18 Mini Bars Harvest & Aged selection (US$58), which showcases the impact of climate and growing conditions on cocoa beans’ flavour. Each bite offered a symphony of sweet and deep chocolate notes, delicate tannins, and hints of bitterness. It was a slow and leisurely tasting, the kind that makes you appreciate the artistry behind each bar.
Additionally, the Alchemy collection (from US$18 up), with flavours like Amazonian Ants, Galápagos Orange & Salt, and Andean Mints, allowed us to explore chocolate paired with unique ingredients and the artistic traditions of Ecuador.
To’ak Chocolate may be the most expensive chocolate in the world, but it’s more than just a treat for the palate. It is also a journey into the heart of Ecuadorian cacao. While the Enriquestuardo chocolate might be a luxury reserved for special occasions, To’ak offers a range of options, making it accessible to anyone looking to embark on a chocolate adventure like no other.