Raaka was founded on two simple pillars: make great chocolate that actually tastes like cacao beans, and source all our ingredients ethically and sustainably. We have a direct trade relationship with our farmers, paying them $500 per ton above market price for their cacao. We source certified fair trade organic cane sugar and fair trade organic cacao butter. When possible, we work with local farms to source ingredients, such as our maple sugar from New Hampshire and our bourbon casks from the Berkshires. Business should improve quality of life, and that can be as simple as putting a smile on someone’s face with a tasty bar of chocolate, or working with Maya Mountain Cacao in Belize, which has raised farmer incomes by 20% between 2012 and 2013, leading to a 40% increase in their children’s school enrollment.
In craft chocolate, every ingredient counts. Great beans are the foundation of great chocolate, but the tiny flourishes matter too, like the salt we use for our 71% Sea Salt bar. Recently, head chocolate maker Nate Hodge was introduced to Jason Kaplan through our friends at Fruition Chocolate. Jason founded Salt of The Earth Co after an inspiring trip to Cusco, Peru in 2011, where he visited a pre-Inca salt mine called Salinas de Maras. Salinas de Maras is located in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and it’s estimated that these salt pools, numbering around 3,000, have been communally run since the 13th and 14th centuries. Local families control the salt pools, which are fed a steady diet of fresh spring water through an underground stream called Qoripujio. The process is cyclical: every few days, water from Qoripujo fills the pools, which evaporates in the sun, leaving a hypersaline residue that is then harvested. The water from Qoripujo nourishes the salt with natural trace elements, such as calcium, magnesium, silicon, and potassium, giving it a flavorful bite, and a light pink hue.
But Salt of The Earth won us of over for more than just the flavor: the company donates a portion of it’s profits to two different charities that directly benefit Cusco and The Sacred Valley. The first, Corazon de Dahlia, provides educational opportunities for women and children through ongoing programs in mathematics, reading and writing, as well as provides counseling, a library and field trips around the city of Cusco.
The second, called Ninos Foundation, works to provide neglected children in and around Cusco with a better life through daily meals, educational opportunities, dental care and recreation. The Ninos Foundation is funded through donations and the profits from a hotel, owned by the Ninos founder, Jolanda van den Berg. The foundation also runs five children’s restaurants, which provide two meals a day, six days a week, to local children.
We’re incredibly excited to be collaborating with Salt of the Earth Co. Their mission, to provide great salt and improve the quality of life in Cusco and The Sacred Valley, mirrors our own social mission with cacao. Together, we’ve crafted a classic sweet and savory chocolate. Grab a bar of our 71% Dark with Sea Salt, and taste the difference!