Raaka - Vegan Chocolate from Brooklyn"Nobody makes chocolate like we do!" Well, that's an announcement. Ryan Cheney and Nate Hodge are the founders of Raaka Chocolate, a vegan chocolate maker in Brooklyn.
We at Theyo have looked into the question of what makes them so different from everyone else, and we can already reveal: bean-to-bar, single origin, transparent trade... Excuse me?! Don't worry, we'll clean up the jungle of terms.
"To us, chocolate is much more than just a candy," explains founder Ryan. "We want you to taste the cocoa, the fruity notes and the unique flavors."
For this reason, only unroasted cocoa beans are processed at Raaka. In addition, the chocolates are single origin , which means that only beans from one region are contained in one bar. The use of raw single-origin beans makes it possible to taste the unique aromas of the respective cocoa. So Raaka's vegan chocolate really isn't just sweet. It is a small taste journey into distant rainforests.
"There's something magical about cocoa plantations," enthuses Nate. “You come to remote places in the middle of a rainforest where everything seems so harmonious and full of tension at the same time. We have been greeted countless times with wonderful meals, cocoa rituals and gifts from the people there. These encounters and these landscapes inspire us again and again.”
Ecological & social responsibility is a top priority for the New York manufacturer ©Raaka Chocolate
Transparent trade and ecological responsibilityIt's no wonder that Raaka doesn't just value high-quality ingredients and careful processing. The New Yorkers also take their social and ecological responsibility very seriously. Everyone involved in the chocolate-making process should be able to live off their earnings. To this end, the chocolate manufacturer follows the self-created principle of transparent trade :
- All beans are bought directly from the farmers. From the bean to the finished bar - bean-to-bar - Raaka then controls every production step.
- The beans are purchased at stable prices. This is in contrast to the normally volatile and unreliable price of cocoa.
- Every trade is visible on Raaka's website - for everyone. The New Yorkers reveal what price they paid for which beans, show photos and tell stories of the farms.
Step by step, terms and special features of the cocoa trade are explained on their website so that even laypeople can understand it. “Chocolate tells stories,” says Ryan. “First of all, about the taste: where do the beans come from, how did they grow, how were they processed. But there are stories that are not told. The stories of the people behind the chocolate, the farmers and producers. At Raaka, we tell those stories.” The New Yorkers shed light on the complex, inscrutable trade and production chains in the cocoa industry.
Handmade in Brooklyn ©Raaka Chocolate
Sustainability, social compatibility and qualityToday, the vegan chocolate bars are produced by a small team in the factory in Red Hook/Brooklyn. But it all started in Ryan's apartment. “Back then we crushed the cocoa beans in a hand-operated mill. It was a good workout - but totally inefficient," says Nate, laughing. “Over time, of course, we simplified some of the steps with machines. But the really important steps, like selecting the beans, are still done by hand.”
In terms of sustainability, social compatibility and quality, the founders of Raaka remain true to themselves. However, they never lose their desire to experiment with ingredients and innovative flavor combinations, reports Nate:
“We are always trying new things and testing limits. Sometimes successful, sometimes less successful. For example, we learned that people just can't get used to the combination of chocolate and red onion.”
Don't worry, nobody has to! ;-) We at Theyo test all boards before we offer them in our online shop. And guarantee you that the vegan chocolates from Raaka taste really great. Browse through our online shop and let yourself be surprised by the original and diverse flavors of the cocoa bean!
This article is based on an interview with the founders of Raaka Chocolate. Their statements were translated into German accordingly.