Cocoa has long been a key crop grown in the Dominican Republic. In fact, the Dominican Republic is one of the leading cocoa producers and exporters of the world. According to the Instituto Interamericano de Cooperación para la Agricultura, the Dominican Republic accounts for 60% of the organic cocoa volume in the world! This is an impressive feat considering the Dominican Republic is the 69th smallest country in the world.
For many families in the Dominican Republic, cocoa farming is a generational legacy. This is especially true for Nadia Rizek, a child of the Rizek’s fifth-generation chocolate business, Kahkow. The Rizek family has been growing, cultivating, and refining their cocoa crop for over a century. “In 1905, my great grandfather started planting cacao in the Dominican Republic, and since then my family has carried cacao in our blood. For our family, cacao has always been a tradition and part of our history,” shared Nadia.
The family business has come a long way in its centennial business. In 2019, they opened a concept store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The concept store provides experiences, educational materials, and a small retail selection.
People hoping to immerse themselves in the cocoa plant to chocolate process can do so by booking a tour, signing up for a “make your own” bar session, or stopping in and simply taking a glance around the shop. The shop features live feeds from the farms in the Dominican Republic and information about how their cocoa crops and cocoa crops from different regions create different flavor profiles for chocolates. When you visit the store you will be able to get a glimpse into the chocolate-making process through both the informational material on the walls and the on-site factory which makes chocolates in house. Perfect for the cooler months, Kahkow Brooklyn offers hot chocolate to warm you up.
Nadia sees her continuation of the work as a continuation of the legacy and duty of later generations of the Rizek family. Kahkow’s Brooklyn store is not the family’s first Kahkow experience offering. They also have a Chocolate Tour experience they offer in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and it’s quite popular. The Kahkow Chocolate Tour experience is listed as the #2 thing to do in Santo Domingo on Tripadvisor and almost has a solid 5-star rating. Prior to opening the doors to the public, the Rizek family sold their products to large chocolate brands around the world.
For those who cannot visit the concept store in Brooklyn or the tour in the Dominican Republic, you can still order an array of items online. Options are plentiful when it comes to satisfying your chocolate cravings. Kahkow offer’s bulk cocoa from the five regions across the Dominican Republic, vacuum-sealed bags of cocoa nibs, pure chocolate bars with varying levels of cocoa, and chocolate bars with added ingredients like spices and nuts to name a few.
As organic producers they are keen on making sure the farming and cultivation of the cocoa plants are chemical- and cruelty-free for both the environment and farmers. They work with small farmers across the Dominican Republic which enables them to take careful consideration of their business from materials to operators. In total, the Rizek family works with 25 farmers and plantations. The founders of FUPROCA, they learn from and teach local Dominican farmers about organic and long term sustainable farming practices. Together the farmers and FUPROCA have received certifications from the Institute of Marketecology and the Rainforest Alliance.
Kahkow is aware that people are increasingly wanting to know where the products they buy come from and the conditions of the workers and materials. This is part of the reason they have made Kahkow Brooklyn as transparent and educational as possible. Honoring history and today’s farmers while making delicious treats that people can learn from is what Kahkow is all about.