Ryan Cheney was introduced to chocolate making at a yoga school on a beautiful island in Thailand, where he was excited by the flavors of raw chocolate. Inspired by companies with social missions, he founded Raaka to explore low-temperature chocolate making and create a more equitable global society in which communities have opportunity to improve their quality of life.
After spending a year learning bean-to-bar chocolate making, Ryan teamed up with Nate Hodge, a musician and gastronomist with a lust for exotic flavors and groundbreaking processes. For several months, Nate and Ryan enjoyed the sound of micro-batch chocolate grinders turning around the clock as they worked to develop a new approach to chocolate making that would become Virgin Chocolate.
In 2011, Raaka built its first factory in Clinton Hill with help from their friend Tim Skehan, a highly motivated DIY artist and cyclist from Cleveland.
Just before the 2011 holiday rush, Raaka brought Danielle Lawrence aboard to head its sales department. Danielle’s limitless positivity and worldly insights have brought Raaka into many new stores and her design sensibility has inspired new products.
We are happy to have the help of our friends Catherine, Eric, Livingston and Pete as we forge new paths in chocolate making and using business to make the world a more equitable and joyful place for all of us.