World Chocolate Guide » Jennifer Earle at the Belmont Cocoa Estate in Grenada

The list of places on my Chocolate Dream List is very, very long, but since the ladies of Rococo told me, several years ago now, about their trip to the Grenada Chocolate Company I have been particularly keen to go to Grenada. I started planning the trip to go last November but when it turned out Mott (the owner) wasn’t going to be there I decided to wait. And I’m really glad I did.

If you’ve not had the good fortune to meet him, Mott is one of the most fascinating men I’ve ever met. He is completely down to earth, yet so excited about chocolate and cocoa, incredibly intelligent and has such integrity. He also has an inspiring work ethic that has pushed him these last ten years, through hurricanes and all sorts of other challenges, to produce great organic chocolate from cocoa in Grenada.

Grinding cocoa beans

In just a few hours I felt like I learned so much from Mott and his team. The chocolate is made in what used to be a house but has been structurally adapted to fit the equipment and the process. Including pouring the beans into the winnower on the ground floor through a hole in the floor of the first level.

After the beans are ground the cocoa butter is pushed out and this is what is left: the cocoa cake.

The grinding and mixing rooms are blocked off and temperature controlled with an extraction fan. I was so shocked to discover my eyes stinging when I first entered the room. Though I often tell people that the process of grinding and conching chocolate is important not just to make it smooth but to release some of the acidity of the chocolate, I didn’t expect to find it in the air!

Mott doesn’t give tours of the factory to the general public so we were privileged to be shown around. Further down the road at the estate where most of the cocoa is grown and where the beans are fermented and dried there are tours for everyone. We were shown around the facilities and the grounds and introduced to herbs and spices that also grown. Since Hurricane Ivan in 2004, cocoa has become more of a focus for Grenada because so much of the nutmeg was wiped out and it can take ten years to reestablish. They are growing excellent cocoa too.

Grinding the cocoa cake

I was surprised to learn the Grenada Chocolate Company uses less than 10% of the cocoa grown in Grenada. All the cocoa they do use is organically grown and is bought as a cooperative that actually own part of the Grenada chocolate Company. It struck me as a similar arrangement as Divine Chocolate and the Kuapa Kakoo cooperative in Africa.

Just for the record, Divine do not add any value to the cocoa for the farmers as they don’t do any processing and refining of the chocolate where it is grown to create more jobs and invigorate the local economy. It is the very nature of the “more than fair trade” and super ethical business model that drew us to the Grenada Chocolate Company and ultimately why we are so happy to have our joint venture farm there with them.

Everything Mott and the Grenada Chocolate Company are doing is incredibly inspiring, a real example of social enterprise and the benefits are not just being seen in the community but in the quality of the chocolate which Mott himself attests is improving each year.

If you’re interested, here’s a little video about the cocoa processing that happens before the chocolate making, filmed at the Belmont Estate, where the Grenada Chocolate Company gets most of its cocoa. Sorry about the background noise, this was done in one take with an iPhone 4 and it’s my first attempt at editing video since I did work experience at a television station when I was 15. (They had better editing programmes too!).

via World Chocolate Guide » Blog.

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