Too few of us know that the Caribbean is esteemed for the quality of its cocoa crop. It is here that fine flavour, or aromatic (as opposed to bulk) cacao is grown. Added to bulk chocolate to improve its flavour, fine or aromatic cocoa is rare, accounting for only five per cent of the world’s production. Seven out of eight of the exclusive producers are Caricom countries, and one is Saint Lucia.
In places like beautiful Saint Lucia, a revival with a twist is underway. In this post-colonial scenario, it’s not solely about exporting the raw commodity. A more exciting development is vertical integration from bean to bar. The dish gets even sweeter with single-estate production, a parallel to wine’s “appellation controlee” system. More about the revival twist later. First, some amazing chocolate facts.
The lush hills of Saint Lucia provide the perfect environment, and cultivation has surged in the past few years. So has production, which is no longer limited to the crude cocoa sticks that are meant to be grated for cocoa tea. Incredibly fine, high-end delicacies are now being made on island, and some of it ships to the wider world.
Cocoa has had an important socio-economic effect in our region, because unlike sugar cane, cocoa does not require vast tracts of land. Even smallholders could cultivate enough to make a difference to their standard of living. In fact 85 per cent of the world’s chocolate is produced on small plots by independent farmers.
Coffee connoisseurs will know too the allure of the kopi luwak (civet cat poop coffee)* and in the Caribbean region, Jamaica’s Blue Mountain* varieties are some of the world’s best. Penning my thoughts about one of the world’s most revered ingredients seemed easy at first.
Kopi luwak is the world’s most expensive coffee because the beans are digested by an Indonesian feline called a civet. This is also called cat poop coffee or civet cat coffee. The feline expresses the beans which are then collected, finished and sold as kopi luwak. The main reason why this is the most expensive coffee is the fact that it takes a long time to, um, harvest and finish the product.