To’ak was born from a rainforest conservation project that started in 2007 in the coastal region of Ecuador. It was here that co-founder Jerry Toth began cultivating cacao trees and making chocolate in a thatched bamboo house secluded in the middle of a forest.
The forest preserve that Jerry helped create is located in the Ecuadorian province of Manabí, which is to cacao what the French province of Burgundy is to wine. As part of his conservation work, Jerry spent several years cultivating an organic fruit tree orchard that features cacao trees mixed with over fifty different species of other tropical fruit trees.
In the mountains above the house, Jerry also found semi-wild cacao growing along stream banks. He and his team harvested this cacao and used it to make chocolate in the Bamboo House, following the methods taught to them by their neighbors.
The house didn’t have electricity, so initially the entire process was done by hand. They roasted the cacao beans in a big iron pot over a wood fire and then de-husked the beans by hand, one by one.
Jerry would then use an old hand grinder to manually grind the beans. The unforgettably powerful aroma that wafted from that grinder was his first cue that Ecuadorian cacao was unlike any other.
After years of honing his passion, Jerry linked up with co-founder Carl Schweizer and fourth-generation Ecuadorian cacao grower Servio Pachard. Their mission was to transform the way that the world experiences dark chocolate, elevating its making and tasting to the level of vintage wine and aged whisky.