My Trip to Raaka Chocolate Factory

I’ve always wanted to be a chocolatier. Amongst many of my lost callings-in-life (ballerina, movie star, celeb vegan chef animal trainer — the list goes enthusiastically on), this one was, at least, tempered a bit (choco pun intended!) with my trip to Raaka chocolate factory, conveniently located in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

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Clean, chocolatey and cacao everywhere, just the way I like it!

I’ll admit, I was first lured into seeking a class after receiving a Pulsd email touting a deal for an all-inclusive choco-making class with plenty of choco-tasting included (psst: sign up with my link to get $5 off your first Pulsd!). After booking the tour via email, me +3 headed over and were greeted by the sweet, though a bit lackluster, Raaka staff. There were bowls of chocolate circles in front of each pile of choco bars for anyone who wanted to take (ie: everyone), and no judgement was cast as to how many we ate. My kind of joint!

A quick note: the chocolate at Raaka is not on the sweet, creamy side. It’s really more of a bitter, slightly sweet and mostly dark bar with sophisticated tasting notes that go better with wine, not milk. Think more midnight and less milky way.

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I probably spent more than 10 minutes sampling all the flavors laid out on their table #noshameinmychocogame

The factory is decently sized, though in no way was it the size of, say, an airplane hangar. Everything was clean and food-grade-looking. The tour began with a quick summary of Raaka’s origins (Raaka means “raw” in Finnish), then we were escorted to another room, where we learned about cocoa beans and how beans are harvested, separated from their hard outer shells and the ground into cocoa paste, later to be tempered into smooth chocolate. We were made to watch a short video about the harvesting of cocoa, of which Raaka proudly does sustainably + ethically.

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A snap of the video we watched (around 15-20 mins long), probably the least interesting part of the tour.
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A hollowed-out cacao pod with cacao seeds.
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Cacao seeds.
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Crankenstein, AKA a burr grinder used to separate the hard exoderm from the cacao nibs.
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Nibs galore!
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Detailed look at a ground cacao seed.
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So. Many. SEEDS~
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Ceiling-high machine used to process cacao pods. Apparently it *only* cost 20K (usually retails for 5x that!).
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A tempering machine that turns cacao nibs and butter into smooth chocolate!
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Why so sad, Mr. cacao barrel?
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Our guide animatedly (not) talks about chocolate.

Obviously, I wasn’t expecting too much out of the chocolate class, but I didn’t think we were only going to fill out molds with chocolate and dump stuff on them. I guess I envisaged a more holistic process where we’d mix the cocoa butter, cocoa paste, sugar and flavorings in a bowl, but I can see how laborious that’d be for the staff. You get what you pay for!

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She fills our molds, the smooth way.
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Caution: chocolate-making in progress!
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Artisans at work!
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Showing off our choco-wares
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Simon takes a choc pic
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Our little chocolate babies are ready to go!
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Wrapped, reppin’ and calorie weapon!
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The baddest chocolatiers in the biz~

Overall, I did enjoy my time at Raaka but wouldn’t want to repeat the tour, it felt like a one-trick-pony. But for those looking for something else to do besides the ol’ movie, brunch or a museum, it’s worth a sleepy Saturday afternoon.

 

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