Brand Spotlight: Raaka
Updated: Aug 15
Most of us, at some point or another (read: every day), have tried chocolate. But if you’ve only sampled the kinds most commonly available—produced with roasted beans, packed with sugar and other fillers—then you’re missing out. It’s like drinking grape juice for decades and thinking it’s wine; when you finally do have that first sip of the real deal, the complexity of flavors is a revelation.
That’s where Raaka’s dark chocolates come in. Their sophisticated flavors start with impeccably (and traceably) sourced cacao beans that are fermented, not roasted. Next, they’re blended with innovative ingredients like coconut milk and pink sea salt before being packaged into gorgeously gift-worthy designs. The result: bars that will inspire a new perspective on chocolate in all its depth and glory, and help you win your corporate gifting goals.
Thoughtful holiday gifting with Raaka chocolate
Humans’ love affair with chocolate started over 4,000 years ago, in Mayan South America, spreading to Europe and other continents in the 16th century, when it quickly became a coveted food at royal courts and beyond. Today, chocolate is enjoyed by 7.7 billion people across the globe, together indulging in over 16 billion pounds of it each year.
This makes Raaka chocolate an easy choice when you need a thoughtful gift, whether you’re buying for an individual you know well, or trying to please a group of people for your corporate holiday or employee gifting program. Plus, Raaka’s bars are organic, vegan, kosher, non-GMO and soy- and gluten-free, making them suitable for a wide variety of dietary preferences and practices.
Innovative global flavors start local
“We make our chocolate in small batches, with transparently traded cacao beans and whole food ingredients, ensuring quality, deliciousness and traceability,” says Rachelle, the VP of Sales & Partnerships at Raaka. “Our chocolate is unroasted, highlighting the fruity, bright and bold flavor profile of the cacao.”
Just like fine wine, Raaka chocolates start with terroir—the unique flavors imparted by a particular set of growing conditions and practices, the delicate nuances born of local climate and soil.
Nurturing these valuable growing conditions means respecting and investing in land and the people who tend it, the global village of individuals working at various steps to coax bold flavors from every bean.
Attention to details
Next, Raaka cacao beans are fermented, a process that develops their fruity tones. Then they are dried. At this point, many chocolatiers would roast their beans instead, aiming for the same classic chocolatey note from every batch. But Raaka’s process encourages individual differences to shine forward.
Finally, the beans are sorted, processed and blended with other ingredients. Since each bean produces different flavors depending on its origin, Raaka chocolatiers use them all differently, adding fruit-forward beans to fruit-flavored bars or pairing earthy beans with complementary additions like ginger and bourbon.
Inspired gift ideas
It can be hard to choose from Raaka’s diverse lineup of treats, so opting for a gift set with a mix of favorites is strongly recommended.
“The three-bar gift box is the perfect gift,” says Rachelle. “The Pink Sea Salt is the classic, the Coconut Milk is the creamiest, and the Bananas Foster is the most fun. Whether you're shopping for yourself, friends, or family these three transparently-traded bars are packed in a soft-touch gift box that is sure to impress.”
The colorful wrappers that adorn every bar of Raaka chocolate are inspired by their lands of origin, adds Rachelle. “This communicates a blend of our focus on innovative vibrant flavors and single origin cacao. Influences are taken from the landscape of the cacao origin for each bar, and colors based on that bar's flavor profile to create intriguing and appetizing abstracted artwork.”
Raaka’s origin story
It all started when Ryan Cheney took his first bite of unroasted chocolate while on holiday in Thailand. Inspired by its unique flavors, he teamed up with musician, gastronomist and ‘The Art and Craft of Chocolate’ author Nathan Hodge to found Raaka, which means ‘raw’ in Finnish. It’s a word, says the company, that sounds the way Raaka chocolates feel: “strong, wild, playful, and most of all, different.”
With beans sourced directly from chocolate cooperatives and farms around the world, Raaka is headquartered in Brooklyn, NY.
Inside every bar of Raaka chocolate is a detailed report that lays out the company’s sourcing model: who they buy their ingredients from, what they pay for them, and how Raaka’s pricing compares to the commodity market and fair trade prices.
The reports demonstrate a commitment to what Raaka calls ‘transparent trade’, a business model that is even fairer than fair trade. “We find that the fair trade purchase price minimum is too low,” reads a statement on the company website, “and doesn’t provide enough protection from market fluctuations. This is why we focus on price stability and transparency.”
A grower-centric organization
Plenty of ethical companies use profits from their finished products to support social causes, but Raaka’s sustainable practices start at the source. By procuring fermented and dried beans directly from farmers, estate farms and grower-centric chocolate cooperatives, Raaka supports stability in the chocolate commodity market. While fair trade certifications are useful for enforcing a minimum viable pricing model, Raaka believes that transparent trade better protects growers from pricing fluctuations that could otherwise subsume their businesses.
In the end, it means that when you choose a gift from Raaka, you’re honoring your recipient with a boldly delicious gift that also supports the community of growers and makers who brought it to life.
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