In Spring 2002, we first tasted some chocolate from the Grenada Chocolate Company (GCC) – and immediately recognised how special it was.
Intrigued, we imported a small quantity and have been selling the chocolate in Rococo shops ever since. We were then persuaded to visit Grenada in 2004 along with documentary film maker Eti Peleg and didn’t realise it would be such a seminal meeting.
All 3 founding partners of the GCC were there too; Mott Green the visionary founder, local island friend Edmond Brown and Oregon friend Doug Browne. We all struck up a close bond, forged over countless cups of Grenadian cocoa tea and much chocolate bar tasting, not to say the occasional glass of Sauvignon Blanc!
Later that year, Hurricane Ivan hit Grenada, and then Hurricane Emily less than a year later, wreaking havoc throughout the island and devastating all the cocoa and nutmeg on the island. It would be five years before the next really good harvest. It was typical of Mott however that within a few hours of the first storm passing over, he had hooked up his computer to run off his spare generator and had converted the little chocolate company van into an office and was busy sending emails and making phone calls when most of the island would be without power for weeks!
We were determined to help, so using the very chocolate that had been in the Macintyre conch when Hurricane Emily hit, and mixing it with our own organic chocolate, we produced the special edition 'Hurricane Emily Bar' and gave the proceeds to 'Hearts and Hands,' the Grenada Relief Fund. We have continued to support the GCC since that moment, most notably using funds from the first Grococo bar to help build the new solar driers for the GCC at Belmont Estate, and most recently by building a bridge across the river to the Grococo farm. In 2007, we were able to team up with the GCC and purchase a small cocoa farm, a perfect opportunity to produce our own fairly traded, ethical chocolate.
The small plot of land we call Grococo is now the 'home farm' that supplies 100% of its harvest of fine flavoured organic Trinitario cocoa beans to the GCC where they are made into fine chocolate. It's also one of the founding farms that make up The Grenada Organic Cocoa Farmers' Cooperative.
Since the first successful Grococo harvest, we have been including our own Grococo beans in our Rococo Organic House Blend. All of Rococo's organic products now include these Grococo beans, and the very first 66% cocoa, vanilla free Gru Grococo bar made its debut in 2012 and a second vintage is currently being wrapped in Grenada.
With great sadness we have had to add a postscript to this extraordinary story. Tragedy struck the GCC in June 2013 when Mott Green died instantly following a fatal electric shock in the GCC warehouse. It was a desperate blow for the company and for all the staff for whom Mott was a friend, mentor and in many cases father figure. Edmond Brown is the sole surviving partner, since Doug had been taken after a long battle against cancer back in 2009, and he has been keeping production running since then while the factory team slowly come to terms with the enormous loss that we all feel.
We continue to work very closely with all of the Grenada Chocolate company and personnel on an ongoing basis, visiting regularly with Rococo teams and helping whenever we can.
The chocolate continues to be exceptional, and this is for four main reasons. The unsurpassed quality of the trinitario beans is carefully nurtured at every stage to produce a chocolate true to the rich volcanic terrain and the fine organic cocoa stock that has been developed in Grenada over many years.
Secondly, and core to the enterprise, the people growing the cocoa and making the chocolate are equally and well rewarded so that for the first time in generations, hard as the work is, young people are being attracted back onto the land.
Third, processing the organic cocoa on the island maximizes the value that can be put directly back into the Grenadian economy. Lastly the sustainable credentials of the business (already evident in its organic status) are further endorsed by the use of solar power for most of the machines, and since 2012, the shipping, where possible, of tens of thousands of bars via the Fair Transport ‘motor-free’ sail freighter the Tres Hombres. Such bars are truly unique in the world for being produced and shipped without any carbon emission.
For Rococo to be involved and work with such an inspirational company is a great privilege and we will continue to use as much of the Grenadian cocoa as we can, and to sell this exceptional chocolate.
Chantal Coady and James Booth, Rococo Chocolate.
London July 2014