Frequently Asked Questions About Our Chocolate

We've highlighted our most popular FAQs so you can find the answer you’re looking for, fast. For the curious among us, you'll find a link below to more detailed FAQs.

How and why do you age your chocolate?

One of the interesting qualities of cacao butter is its remarkable ability to absorb other aromas. To’ak is the first chocolate maker to deeply explore aged chocolate, so we are learning as we go. In the process, we believe we are building a new system for the production of chocolate and the crafting of flavor and aroma—one which is based on the science of wine and whisky aging, and is implemented through the work of time.

What is terroir-driven chocolate and why do you release different harvest years?

The very finest of wines, be they from Bordeaux or Napa or Tokaj, allow us the privilege of tasting the valley in which the grape was grown. To’ak’s Harvest editions offer connoisseurs of dark chocolate this same opportunity—to taste not only the land, but also the characteristics of the particular year in which it was harvested.

Similar to viticulturists in Burgundy and Bordeaux, cacao growers in Piedra de Plata practice “dry farming,” as it is known in the wine world. In other words, they do not irrigate their cacao. As a consequence, our harvest is especially expressive of terroir and varies each year according to weather fluctuations. Embracing these idiosyncrasies of land and weather, and likewise engaging their consequences during various phases of the production process, is the art and challenge of tree-to-bar chocolate-making.

What is Ancient Nacional Cacao?

Nacional, which is native to Ecuador, is generally regarded as the most coveted cacao variety in the world. Its fame in the global market dates back several centuries, although its ancient origins run much deeper.

Is each edition a limited edition production? How many bars do you make?

Yes. Our Origin Bars are typically limited to only 150 bars per edition. Each bar is packaged in a handcrafted hardwood box that has the individual bar number engraved on the bottom.

Our Signature Bars are somewhat more numerous, but are typically limited to 1,000 per edition.

Does your chocolate contain alcohol?

We do not add alcohol to any of our products. Some of our Aged editions have been aged in empty casks or barrels that previously stored alcohol. In this case, aroma compounds from the cask/barrel impregnate the chocolate and impart different aromas. We have conducted laboratory testing and the lab was unable to detect any ethanol/alcohol (i.e. the reading was below their minimum threshold). Although it is unlikely, it is possible that trace amounts of alcohol could enter the chocolate.

Why is To'ak Chocolate expensive and what makes it unique?

We purchase cacao directly from the cacao growers we work with in Piedra de Plata, and we pay the highest price per pound of freshly-harvested cacao in the country. As far as we know, we also pay the highest price per pound in the entire world. This is just part of our commitment to elevating dark chocolate onto the levels of the finest wines and in doing so having a positive impact on the environment and cacao farming communities in Ecuador.

What is the difference between Harvest editions and Aged editions

Our Harvest editions are harvested from a specific appellation during a specific year (similar to wine), with the objective to highlight the unique flavor and aroma characteristics that are created by the unique soil and climate conditions of that particular harvest (i.e., “terroir”).

Our Aged editions are Harvest editions that have been aged in some kind of aromatic vessel (eg, casks that formerly stored wine or spirits, or Ecuadorian wood vessels) or have been aged in the same container as some other aromatic material (eg, Kampot pepper or Palo Santo wood).

Does your chocolate have an expiration date?

Officially, the shelf life of dark chocolate is two years. Unofficially, it should last much longer than that - there are documented reports of dark chocolate still being edible after 100 years of storage. We have chocolate bars that have been stored in our office for us to six years, that are still in excellent condition. But we don’t recommend waiting that long to eat your chocolate.

What makes To'ak unique?

We purchase cacao directly from the cacao growers we work with in Piedra de Plata, and we pay the highest price per pound of freshly-harvested cacao in the country. As far as we know, we also pay the highest price per pound in the entire world.

Do you offer free shipping?

We offer complimentary shipping when your order qualifies for our minimum spend. (USD $75 for USA. USD $175 for all other destinations.) The free shipping will automatically be applied when you meet these requirements.

Can you ship my gift without the price?

For orders within the USA we do not include the price as standard. For orders to all other countries we are required to include a shipping invoice for the purpose of customs import process.

Get in touch with us if this is an issue as there are some possible solutions we could offer in certain cases.

Do you ship internationally?

Yes! We ship to most international destinations, with the exception of those that do not permit the import of chocolate or food products by individuals.

How long does it take to receive my order?

Orders to the USA typically arrive within 3-4 days for standard USPS shipping or faster with FedEx express options. Orders to Canada and Europe typically arrive within 4-5 business days. Orders to the rest of the world may take up to 7 business days.

What are your social and environmental commitments?

We're doing our best to contribute to positive change in the world of chocolate and the farming of cacao. For a summary of our efforts, which ranges from paying the highest prices to farmers in the industry, going beyond certifications, up-cycling byproducts, and protecting endangered varieties of cacao, feel free to read the article "Our Social & Environmental Impact"

How much do you pay your farmers?

We pay a farmgate price that is 3-8x the standard market price for “wet cacao" — well above the fair trade premium.

Is your chocolate certified fair trade?

Yes, all of our chocolate is certified Fair Trade with the exception of our Galapagos Harvest bars. In fact we direct-trade relationship with farmers and pay prices that are far higher than the fair trade equivalent.