Chocolate is one of the most popular sweets in the world, and at Raaka Chocolate in NYC, obsessive sourcing, intricate machinery, and expert craftsmanship allows the company to produce what Dan Does host Daniel Geneen calls one of the highest quality chocolate bars in the world. Follow Geneen as he takes a tour of Raaka Chocolate’s factory to observe and participate in their process of making the company’s signature Maple & Nibs bar.
The process begins in the bean room, where one machine cracks the beans and uses a gentle vacuum to pull away the shell, and another separates the two. The process will run multiple times which will leave 100 percent pure cacao. The final machine in the bean room crushes the nibs into a fatty paste, or “flake,” to get it ready for the grinding step.
“The first pass is going to grind the nibs into smaller nibs, and then on the second or sometimes third pass, we’re going to get the consistency that we want in the paste,” says co-founder Nate Hodge.
Two kilograms of flake are added to the grinder every five minutes, followed by sugar. Once it all comes together, it needs to sit for 24 hours.
The chocolate is brought back to the roller mill for the final smoothing; from there, it’s added back into the grinder once more.
Next the chocolate is brought up to temp, or 88.5 degrees, which begins a chemical reaction that allows the cacao to bond with the sugar crystals once it’s cooled. The chocolate is then poured into the molds to make the bars, and toppings are added before the bars and unmolded and sent to the fridge for a cool down.
The finished bars are then sent to the wrapping station, where they’re encased in colorful, 1970’s-style wrappers, and sent out to local shops.
“This is not just a product, it’s a lot of work from people from all kinds of different parts of the world to make one chocolate bar,” says Hodge. “Being able to tell that story, [of] real people who have chosen to do this as their life’s work, like that’s really cool.”