Cacao Prieto

Sweet Talk with Daniel Preston

Close your eyes and try to imagine what might happen if an international man of mystery were to have a baby with say, an eccentric chocolate maker. The resulting offspring might have a career quite like Daniel Preston. Preston is an inventor, an entrepreneur and an aerospace engineer turned chocolatier who is now producing bean-to-bar chocolate made fresh daily out of his Red Hook, Brooklyn factory, Cacao Prieto. It’s a big warehouse space that smells like chocolate and is full of shiny machinery that makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time a little bit. To say that Daniel is smart is an understatement, but he’s also warm and incredibly forthcoming about his original story and how he built his chocolate empire. We were all ears.


 “I went a little nuts and took over a family farm."

Daniel's favorite cocktail is the Stoli® Dirty Gold Martini. Keep it simple.

Interview with Daniel Preston
Interview with Daniel Preston
Tell us a little bit about your background

I’m a first generation New Yorker. My background is an aerospace engineer, inventor, and entrepreneur and I hold more than 120 patents in 17 countries. I designed high-tech toys for the military in my last company and The Washington Post and The Chicago Tribune called me “Q” you know, like, after the James Bond Q. One of my more well-known inventions is designing satellite guided parachutes to change the way military air drop is done. 

A natural progression into chocolate!

I ended up selling the controlling interest in the defense company I started. When I moved on I had a strict non-compete and I pretty much couldn’t do anything that I was used to doing for the next five years. So, I went on a genealogy trip visiting some family members in the Dominican Republic that I hadn’t seen since I was a child. I fell in love with the country and the islands and was introduced to a family cacao farm— that’s where I became obsessed with the science behind cacao.

Tell us about that obsession

I went a little nuts and took over a family farm. I was fascinated with the original genetics of cacao and I found that the fermentation process across the world (for chocolate) is done in a very non-controlled manner. There’s a couple thousand years of documented history about fermented foods and science related to that and nothing had been applied to chocolate.

So you rethought the process?

There is no winemaker in the world that would stomp his grapes in the mud and let it be feasted on by rats and insects and hope it tastes good in a week. You’d treat it in a semi-sterile environment and control all the variables. So that’s what we did with the chocolate. When we controlled all the variables and got rid of all the pathogens we found that we had a lot of control over the flavor profile of the beans. 

Tell us about these machines, I’m guessing it has something to do with your engineering background?

The look and feel of the place is very much turn of the century because its just an aesthetic I like and, you know, the golden age of machines so most of the machines look Victorian but they’re in fact new and I designed them and we manufacture them.

Finish this sentence: Good chocolate is…




Daniel likes

Stoli® Dirty Gold Martini

Stoli® Gold - 3 parts

Olive Juice - 1/2 part

Great cocktails start with responsible measuring.


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Article by Stoli USA

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