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An Interview with Chantal Coady OBE

On our new Sail Boat Chocolate

 

 

From the creation of Ruby Chocolate to Baked Bean flavoured truffles and exceptionally crafted Handmade English Chocolate - Fortnum’s has proudly been at the forefront of chocolate innovation for decades. Our latest project combines our penchant for exploration, our love for chocolate and our commitment to sustainable change in a unique way. 

 

 

In 2019 Chantal Coady OBE - sustainable chocolate expert, founder of Rococo Chocolates and long-term friend of Fortnum’s - shared the exceptional work of The Grenada Chocolate Company, based on the Caribbean island of Grenada, with us. The company is a small co-operative of Organic cocoa farmers who work with the ‘Farm to Bar’ model to create delicious chocolate that supports their local economy and ensures well-paid jobs for local farmers.

 

 

With the remarkable idea of shipping this sustainable chocolate from Grenada to our Piccadilly home using nearly zero emissions, the Sail Boat Chocolate project was born. Now, in 2020, this exceptional chocolate has travelled in engineless sailing boats, on horse and cart and in our very own electric vans to reach our Piccadilly store - you can read about its entire journey here.

 

 

Chantal joins us to discuss her journey into chocolate, the inspirational work of The Grenada Chocolate Company and the importance of this project.

 

 

What led to your passion for chocolate?

“It goes back to my early childhood – when chocolate was a really special treat. I’m one of five children, so it felt like I never quite had enough chocolate. And then there was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – the book of course, as the film hadn’t yet been made – and I dreamt of living in this fantasy world of chocolate, with chocolate rivers and sweets growing off trees. I had a rather wild imagination.”

 

 

 

What led to you setting up Rococo Chocolates in 1983?

“I had a friend who sold chocolate in a department store. One day I was waiting for her to finish a shift when I was approached by a buyer and asked if I wanted to sell chocolate too. I jumped at the chance – not only was it a job but I would also be selling chocolate! It was an amazing experience and I learnt a lot from it.

 

The chocolate was the best you could get, at that time, but I felt there was a gap in the chocolate market for bringing the magic of it more to life for the customer. This led me to set up Rococo Chocolates at the age of 23 – the more people told me that I was crazy for wanting to set up a chocolate shop, the more determined I was to do it.”

 

 

 

What is so good about Single Estate Chocolate?

“While smaller amounts are made, they have very singular, bright characteristics. It is also to do with the soil – I personally prefer something that comes from a smaller piece of land and is more traceable. There is also nowhere to hide when it comes to Single Estate – If the beans are not good, and every other stage of the process is not good, then it won’t result in a wonderful piece of chocolate.”

 

 

 

How did you get involved with The Grenada Chocolate Company?

“Mott Green, a co-founder of The Grenada Chocolate Company, sent me a sample of their chocolate in 2002. When I tasted it, I knew that it was something very special. We started talking regularly and he became an amazing mentor for me. He sadly passed away in 2013. Without him, I don’t think I would be in the place that I am now.”

 

 

 

 

Why is the ‘Farm to Bar’ chocolate-making model so important? 

“In Grenada [in the Caribbean], where Sail Boat Chocolate is grown, the small farmers are independent and the island has been emancipated from slavery. There is now a level of infrastructure and education there which means that there are now no children working on the land and farmers are being fairly paid. On that small island, it has evolved a long way with the help of this model.”

 

 

 

What makes this model more sustainable?

“This is quite a new movement, only really in the last 20-30 years – championed by Mott Green [who founded The Grenada Chocolate Company with Doug Browne and Edmond Brown]. The ‘Farm to Bar’ model cares for the farmer and ensures that they are paid well – it’s not just the people who own the land that benefit, but the people who farm it too. The chocolate is made in the same location as where the beans are grown, making it traceable from beginning to end.

 

When chocolate is processed in first world countries, there is a lot of energy, water and fuel for transportation used. In Grenada, the focus is placed on supporting the local community and having a business model that works there locally for the benefit of local people. If there is also the possibility of shipping chocolate on an engineless sailing ship then that really helps to spread their market further in a sustainable way.”

 

 

 

What excites you most about the Sail Boat Chocolate project?

“Working with Fortnum’s and putting a spotlight on the world of sustainable shipping. It is a small niche but if we can get people thinking more about our attitude towards shipping and the consumption model that we have – and if people consumed less chocolate that was better quality – then we can allow the planet to rebalance itself in many ways. That was Mott’s vision – to create fantastic chocolate but also to get it to market in a sustainable way.”

 

 

 

What is your favourite type of chocolate?

“Something quite pure and dark – allowing all of the beautiful flavour notes to come through. I prefer thinner chocolate, as it is easier to eat. I love fruity profiles – Trinitario, the bean that Sail Boat Chocolate is made from, really hits the spot with its exceptional flavour and fruit notes.

 

There is a lot of focus on the percentages of chocolate, but you can get really good chocolate that isn’t a terribly high percentage. It’s helpful to compare it to wine – you probably wouldn’t go to the supermarket and compare all of the percentages of alcohol on the back of a bottle, you’d compare the origins and taste profiles of each wine. I think people need to approach their chocolate more in that way.”

 

 

 

What is your favourite chocolate pairing for our Sail Boat Chocolate?

“White tea is a great pairing, as it will keep your palate very clean. Port, Whisky and Rum are fantastic as well. Alcohol goes very well – the higher the alcohol level, the more it will make the chocolate sing.”