How we make unroasted chocolate
Most chocolate available today is made with roasted cacao beans. The process is considered essential to mass chocolate production, along with generous amounts of cocoa butter and vanilla. In the attempt to create a perfectly palatable and delicious "chocolate-ty" flavor sometimes the complex and unique flavors of the cacao beans are lost.
Cacao beans have a greater range of flavors than "chocolate". Some don't taste "chocolate-ty" at all. So we take a different approach: make chocolate that preserves the complex and surprising flavors of the cacao beans we start with, and create an adventurous and novel chocolate tasting experience.
All of our chocolate is made, packaged, and distributed by our team in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Each step is carried out by one of our skilled and creative chocolate makers with a keen attention to detail. We hope that with each bite our customers can taste the love and care put into every batch.
The gallery below is a collection of images showing our process in action. Warning: chocolate gets absolutely everywhere. Let's get down to the nibby gritty.
We start from scratch with certified organic, unroasted cacao beans. Cacao beans have unique flavor profiles shaped by climate, soil, elevation, genetics, and harvesting practices. Whether we're making a single origin chocolate, an infusion, or a blend, our creative inspiration begins with the flavor of the bean so that each bar will have a novel, fresh and exciting taste.
Cacao beans are actually fruit seeds that come from the fruit of the Theobroma cacao tree. The seed is encased in an outer husk that must be removed and separated from the seed through a process called winnowing. Winnowing cracks the cacao and seperates the husk from the "nib". The nib is what becomes chocolate. Our winnower is custom built: a piece from a juicer cracks the cacao, while a vacuum sucks up the lighter husk. We donate our husks to Edible Schoolyard NYC, where they are used as compost. Because the husk is indigestible and not tasty, it's much better for the soil and plants than people. Trust us.
Grind and Mix
Now the fun parts begin. First, we grind the nibs in stone melangeurs, which break down the nibs, releasing and liquefying their cocoa butter and solids. The friction created generates heat, melting the cacao into a smooth chocolate emulsion as the particles are broken down. Now we add sugar and, depending on the bar, other whole food ingredients like shredded coconut for our Coconut Milk bar.
After two days in the melangeurs, the chocolate is ready to be milled to further reduce the particle size, giving it an even, silky and smooth mouthfeel. We use a three roll mill that was originally built in 1939. Our chocolate makers pour the ground mix between the first two rollers, the feeder roll and the center roll, which whip up the mass into something that looks like a giant living tootsie roll. The chocolate then runs through the final roll, called the apron roll, where a blade scrapes it off and transfers it to the apron pan. A chocolate maker then scrapes the chocolate into a bucket and runs it through for a second pass.
Temper and Pour
What would a good bar of chocolate be without a beautiful sheen and a satisfying, crisp snap? This is what tempering does. Without getting heavy into the details, tempering is the process of making the crystalline structure of the chocolate’s fat content stable and uniform. It takes some heating, cooling, and reheating. We have a fancy machine for this, but it needs a human to operate. Once the chocolate is in temper, a chocolate maker will pour the chocolate into molds and place the molds on a rack in a cooled space.
Demold and Wrap
At this point it’s tempting to eat all these freshly made bars, but we’d rather share them. So we demold and finally wrap our chocolate using a wrapping machine from Switzerland specifically made for the job. For the first four years of business we hand wrapped every chocolate bar. This was quite tiring. The machine is better at it.
Share and Enjoy
Now the chocolate is ready to ship and share. Things are going well for us when our one-man fulfillment team is lost in a sea of packages. Luckily for us, he finds his way through so you can find Raaka at a store near you. Or you can buy from us directly.