Between our currently very small harvests of cacao beans from our own mature criollo trees, and while we wait for more of our seedling criolla and trinitario trees to grow, Mahogany Road Chocolate is ‘Bean to Bar’ small batch, artisanal, organic chocolate, made with Fair Trade Haitian Cacao. These cacao beans are harvested, fermented and dried in Northern Haiti in co-operatives with a high percentage of woman farmers, and pay a better rate for the crop than the open market, while supporting the community in education and nutrition. (The beans are also organic, although the farmers cannot afford to go through the certification process).
All of our other ingredients are organic, and come from either Haiti or close by in the northern Caribbean. There is cocoa butter from the DR, sugar from Jamaica, vanilla from PR and Haiti, coffee beans from Haiti and DR, and flavourings from our orchard and garden, or from our St Croix neighbours, such as lime and sour orange, ginger, turmeric, sea-salt, chillies, nutmeg, (and ‘wait-and-see’ what flavours are next)! We hope to produce our own cocoa butter in a few year’s time.
Once obtained, the cacao beans must be inspected, cleaned, and roasted in batches under close supervision. Then they pass through the first simple hand-made ‘machine’ to de-husk them, forming nibs, or small chunks of beans, from which the husk or chaff is winnowed away. We sell roasted beans and nibs in bags as snacks or ingredients for granola and baking. The chaff and cacao dust can also be brewed as a tea with a pleasant not-too-bitter taste, and the remaining cacao waste is used as plant food, ask for these items at the stall.
Nibs are carefully weighed out in exact proportions to begin the grinding process in a ‘melanger’, the stainless steel drum has a granite base that turns against two granite rollers to crush and refine the particles, sometimes for many hours or even days. Sugar is gradually added once all the beans are ground into ‘cocoa liquor’, along with a little cacao butter for smoother texture and mouth feel. By the end of the grinding, a secondary process known as ‘conching’ is also taking place – the particles are gently heated by the grinding and motion, and this dispels any remaining bitterness and grassy flavours, to bring out the richness of the chocolate.
Next the batch must be tempered to have the right consistency, and to form glossy bars with a snap when broken – despite the difficulties in our high temperatures and humidity, it can be done! The newly tempered chocolate must be immediately poured into moulds, and allowed to set. Later they will be wrapped and labelled.
Coffee is roasted in a similar way in our roaster, and the beans chopped into coarse chunks for addition to our Coffee Bars, with a drop of organic coffee oil.
Coarse salt from various salt-pans (St John, BVI or Anguilla) may be sprinkled into the moulds for Sea-salt bars.
Almost all of our packaging is paper based and recyclable, or made from recycled materials, and we hope to continually improve upon this.
The history of Chocolate goes back 4000 years to the Ancient Maya and Incas, as rich and mysterious as the taste pure criollo and trinitario beans still evoke. Chocolate bars have been around for 170 years – but are constantly being refined and adapted to our palates, and the current tree-to-bar and bean-to-bar movements, along with technical innovations that make production on the cacao-estate possible despite the climate needed to grow the beans, can take your senses to places you never imagined.
We aim to make a fine chocolate representative of St Croix, of the Virgin Islands, and of the best ingredients the Caribbean has to offer!
Our bars have distinct notes in the roasted spectrum, toasty and a touch of smoky, and in the earthy spectrum with a hint of molasses. You may detect a fruity flavour, perhaps passionfruit or orange peel, a taster even mentioned dried banana, or a nutty sensation. We’d like your opinion so please review our Facebook page!