That is not so necessary for all of us, and we are pleased that To’ak now also releases that identical chocolate in the ‘Signature’ series. Still incredibly pricey, and beautifully packaged. But – for what it is – affordable. After all, it concerns special Nacional cocoa from our own cocoa plantation – tree to bar as it is called. And yes, you can also find other brands in our range that are delicious. But we ourselves find To’ak a beautiful chocolate company that knows what it does very nicely to ask the question ‘what is a fair price for chocolate?’. Asking the question is answering it: the average chocolate is too cheap. That is to say, the chocolate companies make billions in profits, but they have been doing this for years and years with far too little respect for people & nature (by now you know the excesses from the news) and the chocolate is mainly so cheap because it is not cocoa … The cocoa is ‘bulk cocoa’ of mostly moderate quality, which is disguised by burning the cocoa considerably and adding a lot of sugar and other extras.
Now the chocolates that we sell already do things differently, it is chocolate that is about the cocoa, in which you taste the diversity, the origin of the cocoa. And where a fair price is paid for good cocoa. And the environment is well thought of. And yes, you pay for that. We do everything we can to keep prices low from our side, we really do not have to get rich (and we will not), but we think it is very right that you pay for quality, and that the chocolate makers also the cocoa farmer pays a fair price. Desperately needed. Another factor is that cocoa consists of all kinds of varieties with their own flavor profile and characteristics. Where large industry only goes for monoculture (with far-reaching consequences for the environment), we think it is very important that the natural diversity of cocoa is preserved and that the cocoa does not only grow everywhere in otherwise bare plantations, but between the other trees in a more natural way. system.
Long story, now about this chocolate!
To’ak makes, and in our opinion very cool, specific chocolates per harvest year. This way you can taste the 2017 harvest in this chocolate. Harvesting takes place twice a year, this is the ‘rain harvest’. We think the chocolate from a year earlier is significantly less (and we do not sell it), this 2017 harvest – To’ak also indicates – gives a taste that is nicely balanced. Very nice to see the influence of the weather and to taste the chocolates side by side – you can do this in the tasting set of minis, also available.
About this specific year, To’ak himself says:
“As tree to bar chocolate makers, we draw heavily on the techniques and tradition of both winemakers and whiskey distilleries. As with wine, the taste characteristics of dark chocolate vary depending on the soil and the climate in which the cocoa is grown. At To’ak, the French term terroir is not just a concept, it is the guiding principle for our entire production process, we consciously make our chocolate to express the land and weather peculiarities of each specific year.
More than 95% of the world’s chocolate is produced from low-grade “bulk” cocoa. Often grown in factory farm monocultures, these cocoa trees are fed a solid diet of irrigation and chemical fertilizers, which produce a uniform cocoa plant from year to year. In stark contrast, the small-scale family farms in Piedra de Plata are scattered across the wooded hills, where cocoa trees are grown alongside a medley of tropical fruit trees and native hardwood – a true polyculture.
To further complicate matters, cocoa growers in Piedra de Plata practice “dry farming”, as is known in the wine world. In other words, they don’t irrigate their cocoa. Their trees depend on the vagaries of rain and sun. As a result, the flavor and aroma properties of Piedra de Plata cocoa beans are heavily influenced by the unique soil and climate conditions of this particular valley and vary significantly from year to year.
After the tumultuous cocoa season of 2016, the hills of Piedra de Plata enjoyed relatively calm and beautiful weather for a year. In fact, the cocoa we harvested in 2017 has been the beneficiary of the most consistent rains and most sunlight hours of all the cocoa we have harvested in the past four years. The yields were not overly abundant, but the cocoa fruit was ripe and healthy. The 2017 harvest lent itself to an accessible and balanced approach