For the late Mott Green, creator of the Grenada Chocolate Company was a dream that become reality. In just over twenty years he took a product which began as a cottage industry for small cocoa farmers in the mountains of Grenada into the realms of international recognition and acclaim. Indeed, the company has won the prestigious London Academy of Chocolate Silver Award in 2005, 2008 and 2011 and the chocolate can be found in shops and supermarkets in the UK, Whole Foods shops in New York and Los Angeles and specialty chocolate boutiques in Europe. But what was it that drove and motivated someone from ‘first world’ USA, to end up in the rain forests of a tiny Caribbean island making chocolate?
Here’s a look back at his interview with MACO before his sudden death in 2013:
Mott Green has probably been asked this question a hundred times over the years and perhaps his most succinct response was the one he gave to Nancy Nicholls of D Magazine; “My progression was: Activist, love Grenada, love cocoa, love machines and tinkering, making chocolate and doing it all without hurting the land”. A regular visitor to Grenada from his teenage years, Mott Green finally ‘dropped out’ of New York’s fast paced life in the late 80s and retreated to the tiny secluded village of Hermitage in Grenada’s rain forest. He quickly adapted to the simple life among local farmers struggling to make a living from their small holdings and cocoa trees.
An inveterate tinkerer he soon began helping them build pumps using natural materials. In turn they taught him how to dry his own beans and make cocoa balls which are used to make cocoa tea. It was from these primitive beginnings that Green’s dream of producing world-class chocolate right where the cocoa was grown, was born. Hooking up with a like-minded friend, American Doug Browne, they began to engineer the machinery they would need in a barn in Oregon.
Their shoe-string budget meant that they had to inventively combine modern parts with antique pieces they sourced from various places around the world including Germany. Then it all had to be shipped to Grenada and reassembled. Green’s pride in their prototype is obvious as he observed with his characteristic grin, “Today our new machine is much more efficient and effective but that older one was beautiful and sexy although less practical!”
From such early beginnings the Grenada Chocolate Company, with the addition of another friend, Grenadian Edmond Brown, was born. Today the Grenada Chocolate Company’s delicious dark chocolate produced from organically grown beans and processed by environmentally friendly machinery, is an international success. However, the company has not strayed far from its roots and the process from tree to bar remains essentially the same. “Every part of the process is essential to the final taste of the chocolate bar,” Green said emphatically. Even external aromas like perfume, he explains, can affect the taste. Having complete control over each part of the process and ingredients used, in small batches, allows them to produce very fine chocolate. Amazingly 1000 hand-wrapped bars of chocolate a day are produced and packed for distribution.
Sustainability was of utmost importance to Green and he often found innovative ways of incorporating eco-friendly methods into his business. To make deliveries to Grenada’s sister island Carriacou, he personally made the 20-mile journey through often choppy seas on a 4-metre Hobie Cat! However for longer journeys the Hobie isn’t quite as practical, so when Green decided to ship his chocolate bars to Europe, he teamed up with Fairtransport, a Dutch company dedicated to the sustainable transport of goods by means of wind power and sailing. The Europe-bound Brigantine Tres Hombres transported 4 tonnes of chocolate and even had a specially insulated cool room, built by Green, powered solely by wind and sun.
The journey took six weeks and after 24 days at sea, Green wrote on his blog: “We are proving that we can indeed deliver lots of chocolate bars to Europe on the Tres Hombres, our trans-Atlantic chocolate delivery vessel, the ship with no engine. This is a grand statement and worth enormous amounts in this jaded, oil-dependent world where everything is required to move so fast. The lesson here is not only great patience but flexibility/adaptability, because a week ago we were zooming straight for the Azores and we were almost there when our power source, the wind, went away, ran out like a tank of petroleum. The good thing, the inspiring thing, is that the ’fuel’ will come back one day by itself with no damage to the earth or extra expense. For this it is worth waiting, renewable energy!”
No doubt chocolate has become a dietary staple, whether it is a rich dark chocolate bar, a steaming cup of hot chocolate or a luscious chocolate éclair. No menu is complete without it and Valentine’s Day just wouldn’t be the same without a heart shaped box of chocolates! What is it about this substance that makes it so addictive, so satisfying? Mott Green seemed to have found the secret with his organic Grenada Chocolate and was spreading the word.