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$345 for a chocolate bar? It’s made from native Ecuadorian cacao beans

According to its makers, the world’s best chocolate bar is only for sale in select stores in London, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, New York and Beijing. The price? $345.

The world’s best chocolate beans are Ecuadorian.

So how can a chocolate bar be worth so much? According to its U.S. owners, Carl Schweizer and Jerry Toath, the To’ak chocolate brand uses the world’s best cocoa beans, grown in Ecuador’s Manabi Province. Toath, a retired Wall Street investor, says the chocolate is the result of a conservation project to reclaim a variety of cacao bean that was thought to have been killed off in an early 20th century blight.

“Through extensive research, we were able to genetically reconstruct the species,” he told Fortune magazine. “Today, the ‘nacional’ bean is alive and well but only in a small area of the Piedra de Plata Valley in Manabí. We  work with local farmers who have developed new orchards.”

Toath explains that harvested cacao beans go through a complicated process, including fermentation in boxes made of Spanish elm, before becoming chocolate. “The result is the best chocolate in the world, which is why we can sell the chocolate bars for such a high price,” he says, adding that the bars are a high-end novelty and not the core part of To’ak’s business.

  • dogoslave

    Memphis, Really?

  • lorenzo

    Cocoa nacional is found in areas of Ecuador other than just in Manabí. We grow nacional on our small farm outside of Machala in the province of El Oro. Cocoa nacional grows from a tree, around 8 meters high.

    The more common type of cocoa grown in Ecuador is called cocoa injertado. It has other names as well. The injertado type of cocoa is a bush, usually no higher than a couple of meters. Cocoa injertado produces more pods/hectare than the nacional and is easier to care for. However, as the article points out, cocoa national produces a much higher quality chocolate.

    Unfortunately there are many cocoa growers who try to mix the two beans and pass it off as nacional when selling on the market. There are steps being taken (poco a poco) to control this practice so that we receive a fair price for pure nacional.

  • Ricki

    We have awesome chocolate here for under $3. a bar.