Tree-to-bar chocolate makers in Grenada (Part 3)
Tree-to-bar chocolate makers in Grenada (Part 3) One of the field trips during the Grenada Chocolate Festival was a visit to The Grenada Chocolate Company. It has been one of the highlights of my trip! Since Mott Green, the founder, passed away too soon in 2013 (Note 1), I was wondering what was happening with the brand and the business. By talking to James Mort, the manager, and Edmond Brown, the co-founder, I was able to understand better what challenges they will face in the next months. Back in 1999, when Mott Green founded it, The Grenada Chocolate Company was the only tree-to-bar chocolate maker on the island. Now, 18 years later, Edmond, Jim and the members of the cooperative need to make big changes. The Grenada Chocolate Company The Grenada Chocolate Company The members of Grenada Chocolate Company’s cooperative used to ferment and dry their cacao using Belmont Estate’s facilities. They also have a small bonbon shop there, where they can sell their bars and their truffles. Since Belmont is also starting to create its own tree-to-bar products (see Part 4 of this series), The Grenada Chocolate Company needs to relocate everything. Edmond said they want to create a crowdfunding campaign to finance their new shop in St-George’s, the capital. They will also rehabilitate a fermentation and drying center in Hermitage, the village where the factory is located. If you want to help them, I invite you to follow their Facebook page to get the latest updates. Refiner and conch Cacao butter press. Not many tree-to-bar chocolate makers have that kind of machine. The Grenada Chocolate Company is an exception. Their press works by hand. Freshly pressed cacao butter Besides The Grenada Chocolate Company, there are many other tree-to-bar makers in Grenada, all different from one another regarding size and the type of chocolate they produce. Jouvay (on Diamond Estate), belonging to the Grenada Cocoa Association (GCA), is the biggest one even if it was founded only three years ago (2014), with the help of USAID and the American chocolatier L.A. Burdick (Note 2). During the festival, we did a really quick group tour of Jouvay, so quick it was disappointing. Yet, the factory is in a magnificent setting! The building is an old rum distillery, founded by French monks in 1774. And the cacao estate is beautiful and perfect for a walk: one of the activities during the Grenada Chocolate Festival, the Chocolate Hash, was held there. We walked and run among the cacao trees, with the mountains in the background! Jouvay foundation: 2014 Cacao beans sorting Roll refiner Chocolate hash on Diamond Estate Unfortunately, Jouvay’s chocolate is also a little bit disappointing… This is of course my personal opinion, but compared to the chocolate made by other tree-to-bar makers in the country, it does not let the wonderful flavors of the Grenadian cacao shine through. Jouvay’s chocolate bars In the 4th and last part of this series, I will talk about three other projects involving chocolate in Grenada: Belmont Estate, Crayfish Bay and Tri Island. ——— Note 1: See my blog post from 2013 on that topic (in French). Note 2: I’ve been told that Burdick is not involved anymore in the project, even if Jouvay’s website still talks about him (personal communication with James Mort).
Business delegation in Peru
(This blog post was first published on the Uniterra Volunteer Blog.) I came back some weeks ago from a wonderful trip to Peru with five other Quebecers working in the chocolate industry: Isabella, my colleague at Miss Choco, Daniel and Alcina (Chocolats Monarque, Montréal), and Sylviane and Narada (Chocolaterie Le Cacaoyer, L’Assomption). We went to Peru as “business volunteers” thanks to the Uniterra program, created by CECI and WUSC-EUMC. During those two weeks, we had the opportunity to meet with Peruvian bean-to-bar chocolate makers (1), visit plantations in the region of San Martin and meet professionals from all over the world that are involved in the chocolate industry. Our delegation on the first day in Lima. With Christian Clément and Roy Vera Chung. Credits: Roy Vera Chung This trip to Peru was very special for me for a lot of different reasons. First of all, I visited my first cacao plantation in this country, in October of 2010. I was put in contact with Norandino (a coop from Piura, called at that time Cepicafe), thanks to Martin Christy (2). I was reading about chocolate for two years, but it was not yet the true passion that would change my life. I can say for sure that my passion was born there, in this small cacao farm in Buenos Aires, Peru. My first cacao plantation visit in Buenos Aires (Piura) in 2010. The fact that WUSC-EUMC was one of the organizations involved in our delegation is another reason explaining why this trip was so special for me. During my studies at l’UQAM, I was a volunteer in our local committee. I was very happy to be involved again in a WUSC project and to get to know their Peruvian team! Our delegation visited their office in Lima, where we had the pleasure of meeting the executive director, Chris Eaton, who is based in Ottawa but traveling to Peru during the same time. We had several in-depth discussions with him about our work, bean-to-bar chocolate, cacao trade, etc. At the WUSC office in Lima.Credits: Isabella Geddes. In planning our visit to Peru, I was looking forward to seeing Francesca Valdivia again, founder of Q’uma Chocolate. It was in part because of her that our delegation was made possible. Francesca is a young, passionate and inspiring woman. The connexion between us was instantaneous. She came to Montreal last April for the Salon International de l’Alimentation (SIAL) and during that time, she also visited my store, La Tablette de Miss Choco. The idea of going to Peru to attend the Salon del Cacao y el Chocolate originated at that meeting. If you would like to know more about her, read this article on CECI’s website. Discussion with Francesca Valdivia from Q’uma Chocolate.Credits: Isabella Geddes Francesca and I, as well as the Miss Choco team, share the same vision on a lot of issues, including direct trade and the importance of education to further develop the artisanal bean-to-bar movement. Isabella and I talked a lot with Francesca about how she buys cacao beans. In the following video, she explains why it is so important for her to buy directly from the farmers and to personally know the producers, not only the coop administrators. In Peru, we went to the factory were Francesca makes chocolate. It’s in Pachacamac, a suburb of Lima, in the middle of the desert. The factory is owned by Lisi Montoya (Shattell), another female bean-to-bar chocolate maker. Francesca shares Lisi’s equipment, but she plans on setting up her own factory in the next year. Lisi and Francesca are a sign that the chocolate and cacao industry in Peru are undergoing profound change. Men are still the major presence in cacao plantations and bean-to-bar chocolate factories but increasingly women are getting involved. Isabella and I were lucky enough to discuss this issue with Francesca during the Salón del Cacao y el Chocolate Perú. As you will hear in the following video (in Spanish), she wishes that more women will be involved in cacao cultivation. She also points out that, in her view, it is important for women to help each other in Peru. Francesca Valdivia with Bertilla Mori. Credits: Francesca Valdivia It is an undeniable fact, the chocolate industry is quickly changing in Peru. In the coming years, it will be interesting to follow it’s development. I will talk about that in my next article. Stay tuned! (1) Bean-to-bar: the chocolate maker buys the cacao beans and make everything from the scratch. (2) Martin Christy is, amongst other things, the founder of the Seventy Percent website and also one of the founder of the International Chocolate Awards.
Grenada, nutmeg and cacao! (Part 1)
I love chocolate. Not only because it is a delicious food with many health benefits, but also because it gives me the opportunity to see the world differently. Chocolate enables me to visit countries I never thought I would travel to, and it helps me to get a better understanding of those places. Petite Anse Grenada, a tiny island in the Caribbean, is one of those countries I never thought I would visit some day… until a chocolate festival brought me there! The Grenada Chocolate Festival was created only four years ago but it has already received a lot of attention. In such a short period of time, Magdalena Fielden, the founder, managed to create a nine days event that attracts people from Grenada, surrounding islands and all over the world. Because of the history of the country, many participants of the festival came from the UK. After being conquered by the French in 1650 (Note 1), the island became an English colony in 1763, following the Treaty of Paris. Grenada became independent in 1974, but the links between this Commonwealth country and UK seem to remain strong to this day. A period of insecurity and political turmoil followed the independence, between 1979 and 1984, when the country became communist (Note 2), and allied with Cuba and USSR. I have to admit I did not know any of this before my stay in Grenada, but I find it truly interesting and fascinating. Fort Frederick St.George’s from the top of Fort Frederick Nowadays, the country seems pretty quiet politically. I have not heard anything about corruption among the elites, like in Madagascar, for example. It does not mean everything is perfect on the Island of Spice, but life seems better there than in a lot of other places I have visited. I have noticed less poverty, and I have been told that criminality is low compared to other islands in the Caribbean, like Trinidad. One of our guides during the chocolate festival told us it is safe to walk almost everywhere alone in Grenada, even at night. Nutmeg fruit Nutmeg, mace and cacao have been important crops for Grenada since colonization by Europeans. Nutmeg production is down since Ivan, the hurricane that devastated the island in 2004. The crop, unfortunately, has not fully recovered yet. Nutmeg and mace processing facility, Gouyave Whole nutmeg, ready to be shipped internationally Cacao plantations were also touched by Ivan, but as many people told me during my stay – including Dr. Darin Sukha of the University of West Indies, Trinidad -, cacao trees are resilient. Cacao production could recover from Ivan over the years, but it is not what happened for nutmeg (Note 3). Grenada is a small player on the international cacao market, with only 900 tons produced per year (Note 4). It is nonetheless a well appreciated origin when it comes to fine flavor cacao: the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) recognizes 100% of its cacao as fine flavor, a privilege only shared by 10 countries in the world! No wonder why the cacao and chocolate industry is booming these days in Grenada, as you will learn in Part 2 of this series. ———— Note 1: Many cities in the country still have French names, like Gouyave and Petite Anse. Note 2: In 1979, Maurice Bishop, leader of the New Jewel Movement, organized a coup to remove the elected president, Eric Gairy. Bishop was killed in 1983. Note 3: According to statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Grenada produced 763 tons of cacao in 2004 and only 47 in 2005. The industry has now fully recovered, with 900 tons produced in 2014. In comparison, the country produced 2887 tons of nutmeg, mace and cardamom in 2004, and only 448 tons in 2014… Note 4: The total world production is a little bit more than 4 million tons per year (ICCO).