If you’re looking for something unique to do in Brooklyn with the kids, look no further than Raaka Chocolate. The home of “virgin chocolate,” Raaka a factory where they make 20,000 chocolate bars a month and offer tours, as well as classes, where kids can taste raw cacao from different parts of the world and make their own creation.
On a recent Friday night, my family and I ventured to Red Hook, where the Raaka factory is based. Immediately upon walking in, we smelled the fermented cacao beans, imported from small growers in Belize, Bolivia, Madagasar and the Dominican Republic. Owners Ryan Cheney and Nate Hodge process the cacao to a satiny finish and turn it into yummy bars sweetened with honey or maple sugar, or seasoned with tea and sea salt.
There’s a lot to like about Raaka. They’re organic, for one thing. For another, they’re made through fair trade channels to ensure that no child slave labor or other corrupt practices were used in their creation. Raaka supports in-country growth and development by giving cocoa farmers around the world an effective 20 percent raise for their beans. The wrapping is also pretty – and recycled paper. And the flavors – from tehini to olive oil to sea salt to coconut to maple, including vegan and gluten-free – they are truly authentic and tasty at that.
While we were there, we toured the factory and the kids learned how to turn raw beans into bars. They loaded stone grinders with raw ingredients and poured their bars into molds, ultimately decorating them with sprinkles and assorted toppings. Classes run on Saturdays and Sundays from 2-4pm and 5-7pm and cost $50 per person. Tours are 45-minutes and cost $10, running on Thursdays at 7pm, Fridays at 6pm, Saturdays at 12pm, Sundays at 12pm.
So, if you’re interested in introducing your kids to how chocolate is made, don’t go to Hershey – head to Raaka, where they use humanitarian methods and are socially aware both as a manufacturer and distributor. Teach your kids about how important it is to be a good samaritan and how it can translate to business tactics…and excellent chocolate.
Raaka Chocolate is located at 64 Seabring Street between Richards Street and Van Brunt Street in Red Hook, Brooklyn (855-255-3354, raakachocolate.com).
Disclosure: My family and I were invited to Raaka as guests to experience the factory so I could record about our experience here and elsewhere.