To'ak Chocolate (pronounced Toe-Ahk) is an Ecuadorian chocolate company founded in 2013 by Jerry Toth, Carl Schweizer, and Denise Valencia. It produces its chocolate from the rare Nacional cocoa bean variety. To'ak Chocolate's Heirloom Nacional cacao bar has been dubbed "the world's most expensive chocolate bar" by CNBC in 2017.
To’ak's chocolate bars are produced from the Nacional variety of cocoa bean, which was thought to be extinct by some experts.
The chocolate bar is handcrafted, and production involves fermenting the cocoa beans.The chocolate bar is composed entirely of the Nacional cocoa bean, with a small amount of added cane sugar. A single roasted cacao bean is placed in the middle of the bar to signify the bar's origin. To'ak chocolate is pure chocolate, and is not embellished with nuts, gold dust, or ganache, which is similar to some of the world's other expensive chocolates.
The company's products include the Vintage 2014 edition that was aged for three years in a French oak cognac cask.The company ages bars in wood casks and empty spirit casks. They have been described as a "boundary-pushing chocolate company" for launching a bar of dark chocolate that has been aged for 18 months in a 50-year-old Cognac cask. They have also aged chocolate for two years in a Laphroaig Islay whisky cask.
To’ak and the rainforest conservation organization TMA (Third Millennium Alliance) jointly manage a regenerative cacao project in coastal Ecuador, specifically with the agricultural communities that surround the Jama-Coaque Ecological Reserve. The program was designed as a strategy to reverse the trend of deforestation of the Pacific Equatorial Forest (also known as the Pacific Forest of Ecuador).
TMA provides local farmers with start-up capital, seedlings, irrigation equipment, and financial incentives to convert deforested land into regenerative forests. The program is financed by carbon offset revenue, which provides bridge income to the farmers for the first five years, before the cacao trees reach productive age. Once the cacao trees start to produce cacao pods, To’ak offers to purchase the cacao at premium prices.
Chocolate is a food made from roasted and ground cacao seed kernels that is available as a liquid, solid, or paste, either on its own or as a flavoring agent in other foods. Cacao has been consumed in some form since at least the Olmec civilization, and the majority of Mesoamerican people ─ including the Maya and Aztecs ─ made chocolate beverages.
The cocoa bean or simply cocoa, also called the cacao bean or cacao, is the dried and fully fermented seed of Theobroma cacao, from which cocoa solids and cocoa butter can be extracted. Cocoa beans native to the Amazon rainforest are the basis of chocolate, and Mesoamerican foods including tejate, an indigenous Mexican drink that also includes maize, and pinolillo, a similar Nicaraguan drink made from a cornmeal & cocoa powder.
Theobroma cacao, also called the cacao tree and the cocoa tree, is a small evergreen tree in the family Malvaceae. Its seeds, cocoa beans, are used to make chocolate liquor, cocoa solids, cocoa butter and chocolate. The largest producer of cocoa beans in 2018 was Ivory Coast, 2.2 million tons.
Hot chocolate, also known as hot cocoa or drinking chocolate, is a heated drink consisting of shaved chocolate, melted chocolate or cocoa powder, heated milk or water, and usually a sweetener, and may typically be garnished with whipped cream or marshmallows. Hot chocolate made with melted chocolate is sometimes called drinking chocolate, characterized by less sweetness and a thicker consistency.
Scharffen Berger is an American chocolate manufacturing company, which was a subsidiary of The Hershey Company after it had been acquired in 2005. Scharffen Berger was established as an independent Berkeley, California-based chocolate maker in 1996 by sparkling wine maker John Scharffenberger and physician Robert Steinberg.
Chuao is a small village located in the northern coastal range mountains of Venezuela, founded in 1660. The village is famous for its cacao plantations, Diablos danzantes and San Juaneras. The village is surrounded by mountains and dense rainforests to the south and the Caribbean Sea to the north. The nearby Henri Pittier National Park is the oldest national park in Venezuela, created in 1937. The village is only accessible by travelling via boat from nearby Choroní, and is approximately 4 kilometers inland.
The Santiago Mariño Municipality is one of the 18 municipalities (municipios) that makes up the Venezuelan state of Aragua and, according to the 2011 census by the National Institute of Statistics of Venezuela, the municipality has a population of 211,010. The town of Turmero is the shire town of the Santiago Mariño Municipality and Chuao where some of the finest cocoa beans in the world are produced. The municipality is named for Venezuelan independence hero Santiago Mariño.
The history of chocolate began in Mesoamerica. Fermented beverages made from chocolate date back to at least 1900 BC to 1500 BC. The Mexica believed that cacao seeds were the gift of Quetzalcoatl, the god of wisdom, and the seeds once had so much value that they were used as a form of currency. Originally prepared only as a drink, chocolate was served as a bitter liquid, mixed with spices or corn puree. It was believed to be an aphrodisiac and to give the drinker strength. Today, such drinks are also known as "Chilate" and are made by locals in the south of Mexico and the north triangle of Central America. After its arrival to Europe in the sixteenth century, sugar was added to it and it became popular throughout society, first among the ruling classes and then among the common people. In the 20th century, chocolate was considered essential in the rations of United States soldiers during war.
Swiss chocolate is chocolate produced in Switzerland. While cacao beans and other ingredients such as sugar cane originate from outside Switzerland, the actual production of the chocolate must take place in Switzerland. Switzerland's chocolates have earned an international reputation for high quality with many famous international chocolate brands.
Barry Callebaut is a Belgian-Swiss cocoa processor and chocolate manufacturer, with an average annual production of 2.3 million tonnes of cocoa & chocolate . It was created in 1996 through the merging of the Belgian chocolate producer Callebaut and the French company Cacao Barry. It is currently based in Zürich, Switzerland, and operates in over 30 countries worldwide. It was created in its present form by Klaus Johann Jacobs.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to chocolate:
The environmental impact of cocoa production includes deforestation, soil contamination, and herbicide resistance. The majority of cocoa farms are now located in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana.
Taza Chocolate is a Mexican-inspired stoneground, organic chocolate manufacturer based in Somerville, Massachusetts, United States. The factory was founded by Alex Whitmore in 2005 and is home to over 40 different products that can be found in 2,800 retail stores across the country.
Castronovo Chocolate is a micro-batch chocolate maker headquartered in Stuart, Florida.
The chocolate industry in the Philippines developed after introducing the cocoa tree into Philippine agriculture. The growing of cacao or cocoa boasts a long history stretching from the colonial times. Originating from Mesoamerican forests, cacao was first introduced by the Spanish colonizers four centuries ago. Since then the Philippine cocoa industry has been the primary producer of cocoa beans in the Southeast Asia. There are many areas of production of cacao in the Philippines, owing to soil and climate. The chocolate industry is currently on a small to medium scale.
Malagos Agri-Ventures Corporation is a Philippine bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturer based in Davao City.
Ruby chocolate is a variety of chocolate introduced in 2017 by Barry Callebaut, a Belgian–Swiss cocoa company. In development since 2004, it was patented in 2015 by inventors Dumarche et al. and assigned to Barry Callebaut under patent number US9107430B2. It was unveiled at a private event in Shanghai on 5 September 2017. It is marketed as the fourth type of chocolate alongside dark, milk, and white chocolate varieties and has a pink color.
The Nacional is a rare variety of cocoa bean found in areas of South America such as Ecuador and Peru. Some experts in the 21st century had formerly considered the Nacional bean to be extinct. Pure genotypes of the bean are rare because most Nacional varieties have been interbred with other cocoa bean varieties. The Ecuadorian cacao variety called “Nacional” traces its genetic lineage as far back as 3,500 years, to the earliest-known cacao trees domesticated by humanity. In the 18th and 19th centuries Nacional was considered by many European chocolatiers to be the most coveted source of cacao in the world because of its floral aroma and complex flavor profile. This was the golden era of Ecuadorian cacao, but it came to an abrupt end in 1916, when an outbreak of “Witches’ Broom” disease devastated the Nacional variety throughout the country. After the disease hit, germplasm from foreign cacao varieties was subsequently introduced into the country starting in the 1930s, which resulted in the widespread hybridization of Ecuadorian cacao. By the beginning of the 21st century most people believed that the pure Nacional genotype no longer existed.
Bean-to-bar is a trade model that was born from the artisan and craft chocolate movement representative of an individual company buying ethically sourced cocoa beans to make high-quality integral chocolate. The term refers to the upper portion of the cacao to chocolate supply chain, it is a legal labelling concept for many chocolate brands and is clearly defined as the consistent manufacturing process of taking whole cocoa beans to make chocolate bars that are ready to eat. Bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturers control the roasting time, sugar content, fat content, additives, flavor ingredients, texture and can even enrich the flavor sensory experience through adding essential oils to create hundreds of flavors, types and classes of chocolate through their businesses. Bean-to-bar is a term that has become synonymous with craft, fine, high-quality, natural and nutritional chocolate.
Regenerative cacao is defined as cacao that is produced on a farm that employs regenerative agriculture and agroforestry methods. It is most closely associated with the Ecuadorian chocolate company To’ak, the organic food supplier Navitas, the rainforest conservation organization TMA, and the social-agricultural enterprise Terra Genesis. Cacao is the raw material that is used to produce chocolate.