– photo by Grenada Chocolate Fest
Grenada is home to several ‘tree-to-bar’ chocolate companies, where the entire process of chocolate making – from growing, harvesting the cocoa pods to crafting the final chocolate bar is carried out in the same location.
The journey from cocoa tree to chocolate bar is not complex, but it requires several steps, each of which require careful treatment to get the perfect chocolate bar. Let us take you through the steps involved in the fine-art of chocolate making, in collaboration with Grenada Chocolate Fest.
“Grenada Chocolate Fest is an annual week-long festival that takes place in May on the Caribbean Island of Grenada. The fest lasts one week and 2020 is our 7th year, but because of the pandemic, we decided to celebrate a virtual festival this year.”
The Grenada Chocolate Fest celebrates all things cocoa from the tree-to-bar chocolate making process to local and sustainable cocoa inspired products. Through the Festival’s carefully curated schedule of events, festival goers are taken around the stunning tropical island of Grenada, into the cocoa fields and behind the scenes of sustainable run cottage style chocolate factories and small scale modern factories.
In brief, the steps involved are harvesting the cocoa pods, fermenting the cocoa beans, drying, roasting, cracking and winnowing, grinding and conching, tempering and moulding into the final chocolate bar.
Harvesting and opening up the pods – pods are cut open with machetes and the white pulp containing the cocoa beans is scooped out.
Fermenting the beans – the pods and pulp are placed into large wooden containers, where the pulp is allowed to ferment for five to seven days.
Drying – this is usually done by spreading the fermented beans out into a single layer in the sun.
Roasting – the dried beans are roasted but exact temperature and roast times are part of the chocolate maker’s (secret!) recipe, and requires careful experimentation.
Cracking and Winnowing – the roasted cocoa beans have a thin, papery shell around them which needs to be removed, so the beans are cracked open and the shell is removed in a process called winnowing. The lighter shells are blown away with fans, leaving behind pieces of pure cocoa bean, known as “nibs”.
Grinding and Conching – the cocoa nibs are ground with stone rollers until they become a paste known as cocoa mass.
Tempering – it is a controlled process of lowering and raising the temperature of the chocolate to form exactly the right kind of crystals. The tempering machine keeps the melted chocolate circulating at exactly the right temperature.
Moulding – pouring the liquid chocolate into a mould to give it shape
Ready to Eat – once cooled, the chocolate is wrapped and ready to eat!
Grenada Chocolate Fest was founded in 2014 by Magdalena Fielden. Of Mexican origin and inspired by the Tree to Bar Grenada story, Magdalena is now a passionate cocoa-chocolate lover and educator.
Grenada Chocolate Fest is an annual week-long festival that takes place in May on the Caribbean Island of Grenada. Grenada is home to five chocolate factories including the world famous Grenada Chocolate Company founded by the godfathers of modern tree-to-bar chocolate Mott Green and Edmund Brown. Learning cocoa farming, chocolate making, experiencing local food, drinks and entertainment take place all over the island with the intention of celebrating Grenada’s ethical tree-to-bar chocolate.
In 1999 the Grenada Chocolate Company was founded by Mott Green and partners, he is considered nowadays a pioneer of modern tree-to-bar chocolate. He founded the first-ever fine chocolate factory at the farm where the cocoa grows, after hundreds of years of exporting Grenada Fine Cocoa to traditional chocolate-making countries in Europe and North America. The Grenada Chocolate Company is the first of several chocolate factories that now exist on the island and grow organic cocoa to make ethical tree-to-bar chocolate.
On Christmas 2013 Magdalena invited Mott to talk to the hotel guests about the extraordinary story of how he started making the first “Tree to Bar” fine chocolate bar in the tropics. Mott mentioned to Magdalena that he had never been invited to share his story with tourists before. After the success of the talk and enthusiasm shown by the attending guests, they agreed to create an event showcasing the local cocoa and chocolate. Sadly, Mott passed away later that year and in honour of his extraordinary story, Magdalena decided to go ahead and create a unique event, involving the local farmers, cocoa producers and chocolatiers, to help carry on his legacy and try to keep the Grenada chocolate industry alive.
Mott was a true visionary of sustainability from the moment he started to plan the factory. He inspired farmers to become organic, created the first organic cocoa association, paid a better price to the farmers for their cocoa, ran the factory mostly with solar energy, upcycled old chocolate machinery adapting it to the Grenada environment, only use organic ingredients for the chocolate and try his best to distribute his chocolate around the world by carbon-free means (sailboats and bicycles).
The Grenada Chocolate Fest celebrates all things cocoa from the tree-to-bar chocolate making process to local and sustainable cocoa inspired products. Through the Festival’s carefully curated schedule of events, festival goers are taken around the stunning tropical island, into the cocoa fields and behind the scenes of sustainable run cottage style chocolate factories and small scale modern factories.
Over the years the festival has attracted chocolate lovers and chocolatiers from around the globe. It has been a hot spot for budding chocolatiers to learn from experts and thus the Grenada Chocolate Fest has been a catalyst for the ever blossoming chocolate and cocoa industries around the island and beyond.
Since the festival started in 2014 the number of chocolate factories in Grenada has risen from two to five! Grenada now participates in a few international chocolate trade shows and promotes chocolate at all their international tourism endeavors. The local crafter on the island have taken an interest in cocoa inspired products and thus we have seen an increase in cocoa paintings, sculptures, fashion and new products such as whipped cocoa butter, cocoa sauces, and creative chocolate treats all of which you can find at the Grenada House of Chocolate Mini Museum.
Belmont Estate is one of the premiere tourism attractions on the Spice Isle – Grenada. Located in St Patrick, it is a unique and authentic 17th century plantation that offers guests an opportunity to participate in and observe the workings of a fully functional historic plantation.
Tri Island Chocolate Farm is another chocolate maker located in St Andrews, Grenada, who are rehabilitating forgotten lands and implementing modern and sustainable cocoa and agricultural practices across the farm. They cultivate cocoa, wild coffee, nutmeg and many more fruits, vegetables, roots and even honey.
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