Complete Chocolate Lover’s Guide for the San Francisco Bay Area

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$260 chocolate bar


Not sure I could ever justify spending almost my entire month’s food budget on a single bar of chocolate.

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Less than 2 ounces of chocolate in a bar of To’ak chocolate, and it costs $260.

For comparison, some local chocolate I like costs a lot less. A Dandelion 2-oz. chocolate bar costs $8. A Vice 2-oz. chocolate bar costs $6. A Michael Mischer bar costs $11, but it’s 3 ounces, and he uses only Criollo beans, which are considered the highest grade/rarest type of cacao.

So how on earth did a chocolate bar earn a $260 price tag?

It seems that there is a market for ultra-exclusive chocolate, and the chocolatiers at To’ak might be some of the first chocolate makers to jump on it. Located in Ecuador, they are a farm-to-bar chocolate maker like Claudio Corrallo or SPAGnVOLA Chocolatier, but decided less populist in outlook.

On their gorgeous website, you can learn all about their origins and the origin of their limited-edition bars: It’s an interesting story with them working to preserve heirloom cacao strains in Ecuador along with quite a bit of chocolate geek talk about the terroir, bean preparation (with lots of equipment photos!), and how to properly taste their chocolate.

And the educating just keeps on coming

To’ak bars are molded with a hole in the middle into which they place one of their cacao beans. They want you to taste this too, as part of keeping the connection to the chocolate’s origin.

This image from their website show the very pretty bar with a whole bean placed inside. I like the juxtaposition of the smooth tempered bar with its geometric designs against the raw, rough texture of the bean, but this is definitely not actual size.

To'ak bar
A To’ak bar with the cacao bean in the middle giving you some idea of the actual size of the bar.

Maybe this idea will grow on me

One of the things that makes To’ak different from other chocolate makers: They are aging some of their chocolate like vintners age wine, and in future years they will release “reserve editions” of chocolates aged for up to 20 years.

But this year, they just have the one offering, “The First Edition,” of which they made only 574 bars. You can only order it online, and the order page includes a helpful counter to let you know how many are left (in case you are thinking of bulk buying, or you tend to procrastinate when it comes to dropping large bills for a single, small thing).

The bar comes in a keepsake wooden box, so after the chocolate is long gone, you’ll have something to remember it by — plus a 116-page (!) booklet, which I imagine includes more details about the chocolate, and more photos to document why you spent $260 on a single, tiny bar of chocolate.

I alas do not have the budget to indulge my curiosity about what makes these bars worth their astronomical price tag. I will console myself with some local artisan chocolate and call it a night.

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Published February 1, 2015