The Ancient Origins and Near Extinction of To’ak Chocolate

the beginning

Our story effectively dates all the way back to 5,300 years ago in Ecuador.

That approximate date and location is the first known use of cacao by human beings. Fast-forward to the 1800s. By this time, cacao cultivation had already spread to many other parts of the tropics. But the cacao grown in coastal Ecuador—considered the finest in the world—was the darling of the nascent European chocolate industry.

This all came crashing down around 1916.

This is when cacao trees in coastal Ecuador were decimated by two diseases that arrived in tandem. In the decades that followed, foreign cacao varieties began to infiltrate Ecuador.

Over the years, To’ak has received a lot of publicity for being “the most expensive chocolate in the world”—which is fair. But what most people don’t know is the conservation story behind it all.