Organic chocolate farming in photos
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Join Joshywashington in Grenada as he watches the beans of the Theobroma cacao tree transform into bars of delicious, organic chocolate.
A visit to the Grenada Chocolate Company and the Dougaldston Spice Boucan enlightens me to the time honored tradition of fine chocolate making. Grenada has been producing some of the finest cacao beans for over 300 years and proudly carries on the sweet tradition in the form of award winning chocolate.
From verdant volcanic soil to succulent velveteen truffle, here is the journey of the Cacao bean, one of earth’s yummiest creations.
[Josh’s trip to Grenada was sponsored by Tourism Grenada. ]
Freshly cut cacao seed pod
At the Dougaldston Spice Boucan, a woman in a yellow bandana slices open the cacao seed pod and lays the splayed fruit on a low wooden table. What will be chocolate in the near future is now a slimy nest of white beans. The beans are harvested from the rough red fruit and must then be fermented.
The woman in the yellow bandana
After displaying the cacao beans, she crushes bay leaves in her hand and passes the crumpled bundle for us to smell. The table is strewn with Grenada's agricultural bounty including fresh calabash, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Pulling back the banana leaves
We approach a shed where banana leaves and burlap cover fermenting beans. She pulls aside the coverings to show us what is putting up the stink. Then she shows us how by holding your hand over the pile you can feel the rank heat of the smoldering beans.
The beans ferment in a big stinky pile for seven days. Like the yeasty aroma of brewing beer, the funky odor can be detected from around the corner.
Dougaldson drying sheds
The beans dry for about 3 days after fermentation. Weather permitting, the giant rolling platforms in this shed expose the beans to the sun. Otherwise they are protected from moisture by a tin roof.
Drying cacao beans
While the beans are drying, workers periodically hop up and shuffle through the ankle deep pile to turn them and ensure that they dry evenly.
Checking the beans
A man pulls out the rollers to inspect the beans. Not a lot has changed about chocolate making in the last 300 years on the island. Leaves still cover the beans, the sun still dries them. Modern machines are employed in the making of chocolate but at this stage, much is still done by hand.
Soon to be chocolate
The beans are dry, with a bitter, dirty taste. Of course they are not meant to be eaten at this point but they are almost ready to make their way a few miles down the road to the Grenada Chocolate Company.
A single bean
Cacao has been cultivated for at least three millennia in Mexico, and Central and South America. Chocolate, like wine grapes, takes on the characteristics of the soil it lives in, and the fertile dirt of Grenada is still sprouting some of the world's best beans.
I was greeted at the Grenada Chocolate Company by a friendly, grass-chomping land turtle. Several of his kind dragged their shells around in the sun outside the chocolate factory grounds beneath drooping bananas and jerking blue butterflies.
The Grenada Chocolate Company
Cooperatively run by local farmers, the tree-to-bar organic process employed produces some of the finest chocolate in the world directly where it grows.
Organic chocolate bars
After drying, cleaning, and roasting, the chocolate may now take an infinite number of forms. Truffles, toppings, sauces, chips, powder, bars and fudge -- the possibilities of the stinky white bean are endless.