Cocoa Coop – London chocolatier Chantal Coady tells her Grenada story

The Diplomat October 2010

The Diplomat October 2010

When an anonymous bar of chocolate appeared unannounced at Rococo’s King’s Road shop, about 10 years ago, little did anyone suspect that one day Rococo would be collaborating with its sender on the Caribbean island of Grenada as a fellow cocoa farmer.

Unbeknownst to anyone that day the seeds were sown for a collaboration between two chocolatiers from different corners of the globe, one based in London and the other on the small island of Grenada, at the end of the Windward chain in the Caribbean, coming together in their commitment to the highest quality chocolate and fair trade, with a revolutionary approach to chocolate production.

Mott Green founded the Grenada Chocolate Company in 2001, with Edmond Brown and Doug Browne. His regular visits to Grenada from his native New York led to an interest not only in the ubiquitous cocoa trees but moreover a passionate concern for the welfare of the cocoa farmers. Green’s dream then was to achieve what had previously not been attempted and actually produce the chocolate on Grenada using the cocoa grown by local small holders, who mostly could not be bothered to harvest it. Inevitably, finding the necessary tools to realise his dreams of chocolate production was not without obstacles but with his motivation, determination and willingness to experiment and modify and the help of two loyal friends The Grenada Chocolate Company was finally able to produce its first bar in September 2001. Initially a company capable of producing only 80kg a week given the time necessary not only to produce but also hand wrap the chocolate, the Grenada Chocolate Company has grown significantly in recent years. Now producing up to 30 tons of chocolate a year it nevertheless remains a micro producer, consisting of only ten employees, of which Green is one. Most importantly, Green’s work has led him to establish The Grenada Organic Cocoa Farmer’s Co-operative and with the current participation of nine certified organic farms, he is hopeful that some day in the future he will be able to realise his ultimate dream that all cocoa on Grenada will be organic, making it the first organic cocoa island in the world.

Of course increased export would only be viable if Green could find chocolate retailers outside of Grenada interested in selling his chocolate. For this he turned amongst others to Rococo Chocolates owned by Chantal Coady. Coady, who opened her first shop in 1983, is a passionate chocolate enthusiast, wholly dedicated not only to sourcing the finest origin cocoa but importantly committed to ensuring its ethical production and sustainability. This being so, inundated by samples from various producers who try to induce her to taste their chocolate, Coady was self-confessedly suspicious by yet another chocolate bar that appeared before her, however alluring the packaging may have been! Eventually however, curiosity got the better of her and Coady discovered that the chocolate that lay inside was as rich and full of flavour as its packaging brightly coloured and she soon started to stock Green’s chocolate in her King’s Road store. Yet it was not until 2003 (the year before hurricane Ivan ripped through the island) that Coady and Green would finally meet when an Israeli film-maker Eti Peleg, herself on a quest to discover the true essence and origins of chocolate, played matchmaker and persuaded her to embark upon on a life-changing trip to Grenada to meet the man behind the bar. Since then, Coady has co-purchased one of the farms on Grenada, affectionately known as Grococo, which Green tends in return for the cocoa beans which are used in the GCC production. In addition Rococo is now using the Grenada chocolate to mix into their organic bars. At the moment ten percent of their artisan bars are made from the Grococo beans, a figure which both Green and Coady are keen to increase over the years to come. Now established, the link between Rococo Chocolates, Grococo and The Grenada Chocolate Company will surely only go from strength to strength. As John Scharffenberger, a leading American bean to bar chocolate maker recently remarked, the future of chocolate surely lies in following Green’s example of producing chocolate from cocoa literally grown in his own back yard!

The latest ground breaking initiative that Coady and Green are setting up is the carbon offsetting tree planting scheme on the island – Grenada lost 90% of its nutmeg with the hurricanes in 2004 and so far no-one has taken on the task of replanting – there are simply too many other urgent tasks at hand for the government to take this one on. So for all of you with a desire to offset your carbon footprint, or your companies, this could be the perfect moment to remember that little song “I had a little nut tree, nothing would it bear, but a silver nutmeg and a golden pear…”

via The Diplomat Magazine

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