Our Story

People have been cooking with and over charcoal since 30,000 BCE, literally tens of thousands of years. Charcoal takes various shapes and sizes, and can be made from nearly any vegetable or animal matter. An estimated 3 billion people on the planet still use charcoal to fuel their cooking each day. At Thaan, we’re proud to bring people together around food, and the cooks that prepare it, just as people did tens of thousands of years ago.

As Chefs and restaurateurs in Portland, Oregon, we began the search for a better charcoal. In 2014, the year we started Thaan Charcoal, the best alternative to mesquite charcoal was binchotan, which burns cleanly for hours at even, high temperatures. We started ordering a type of binchotan called ebisu, only to find out that it was coming from mangrove swamps in Malaysia that were being rapidly depleted by shrimp farming and charcoal production. "Not only was this a logistical nightmare," the chef recalls: "It was also an environmental disaster."

At last, we found what would become Thaan (which translates to charcoal in Thai): a charcoal made from rambutan wood, which is a renewable resource and burns almost as hot as the mangrove charcoal. We tried it, and we were like, “Wow, this is great!” It gives a very nice, even radiant heat, and it tends not to flare up when food drops into it. If you stack it like Lincoln Logs, it will burn even longer—up to four or five hours. Our advice for home grillers: Because Thaan is a much more dense charcoal and doesn't have any accelerants in it, it doesn't catch fire as quickly, so you need to use a charcoal chimney and fire starters to start it—and it works particularly well in a small hibachi grill. Once the charcoal is lit, it doesn't snap-crackle-pop at all; it burns for a really long time at relatively high heat.

We’ve since added our new mesquite and oak Large Lump charcoal, for when you want a little more smoke, flavor, and quick lighting. We hope you’ll love it just as much as our traditional Thaan extruded charcoal. They will both enhance your grilling experience, and make it easy. Happy grilling. We encourage you to come together around food.

Meet the Team

Toby Roberts

Toby Roberts was President of Pok Pok Restaurants when Thaan Charcoal started. Once Chef Andy Ricker decided to move to Thailand full time, Toby bought Andy’s share of Thaan Charcoal. Toby is a restaurateur along with being Principal at Thaan. Toby’s love for food, people, and grilling over great charcoal has brought Thaan to where we are today.

Ben Jacobsen

Ben Jacobsen is Partner in Thaan Charcoal and also founded Jacobsen Salt Co. 10 years ago. Ben’s belief that ingredients like salt (and charcoal!) could be better, and a desire to enhance the culinary experience led him to Thaan.

Kari Young

Kari Young is a prolific marketing, PR, and social media specialist who has decades of restaurant experience. Kari is a true food lover, and helps to guide the Thaan team to new great heights.

Thailand Production Crew

Put simply, we wouldn’t be here without our production team