A story of oppurtunity in disguise
This all began when I was 'stranded' on my home island, Grenada, at the start of the pandemic. Temporarily liberated temporarily from the demands of modern life, I relished the chance to finally explore the potential of my family's farm, L'Esterre.
But this story became much more than that.
Grown in Grenada
There is something about Grenada that can't quite be translated into words. Its energy and vibrations are unique, with history and culture as rich as its vegetation.
L'Esterre is a cocoa farm in the north-east of the island, and has been our family for 75 years. Descended from East Indian immigrants, my grandfather had dreams of owning his own cocoa farm. And as hard work and a bit of luck would have it, his dreams came true when he purchased L'Esterre in 1949.
L'Esterre doesn't look like most other farms. Our cocoa trees sit amongst several acres of sacred tropical forest, perched on breezy hilltops on the east side of the island.
Regenerative agriculture at work
L'Esterre was a big part of my childhood, though I never appreciated it at the time. I dreaded the weekly Sunday lunches with my grandmother and family. For me, it meant guaranteed car sickness on the windy hour-long journey from the south and hundreds of sandfly bites on arrival.
But with age came understanding. Living abroad only deepened my appreciation for L'Esterre. I had been conditioned to thinking the way we were growing our cocoa was messy. Little did I know, this was regenerative agriculture at work; a method of growing that echoes nature's mechanisms; replenishing fresh water, building soil and growing in harmony with various other plant and tree species.
For over four generations, L'Esterre has played a key part in maintaining our planet's ecological prosperity and played a key role in supporting the rural community. The irony was that it became financially unsustainable.
Becoming more than a farm
With the knowledge that the farm's long-term future wasn't looking too promising, I made it my responsibility to shift this outlook.
We had been selling our cocoa for half of what it cost to produce it. So in 2021, we began exporting our cocoa directly for double the price.
But I knew there was more we could we could be doing. And so I began exploring ways to put more of the control into our own hands.
Our cocoa cost more to produce than it did to sell. But we continued to farm the land in the name of preserving precious land and the island's heritage.
Chocolate was the answer
I worked out that chocolate is how we are going to protect our family farm and safeguard its future. This wasn't going to be a quick fix, but a lifetime's dedication.
With a lot of working out and fortuitous friendships made on the island over the pandemic, we finally made our first chocolate bar. Relieved that our chocolate tasted flavourful, three years ensued of learning cocoa at the source, culminating in building our very own little factory in Warwickshire.
So we created our very own supply chain. Beginning with us and ending with you
L'Esterre Chocolate was born
A true cottage industry from cradle to grave, we are directly involved in the entire process from growing, roasting, exporting, grinding, tempering and packing. We have bootstrapped our way to share the magic of L'Esterre, with an unwavering commitment to quality, fairness and flavour. Proud to only use two ingredients in our chocolate, we are free of additives, emulsifiers and flavourings, make it naturally vegan and gluten free. Our chocolate doesn't need anything added because our cocoa speaks for itself.
More than a chocolate company, our aim is to make farming prosperous throughout Grenada
Leading by example, I see a future for Grenada, where the next generation of farmers are inspired to return to the land. Through innovation it is my hope that Grenada's heyday will once again be revived. We may be small, but our message is mighty. You don't have to be big to make a difference. What matters to us most is continuing to work in a way that respects the land and its people for generations to come.
How we're shaking up the chocolate industry and bringing it back to the source
1% for Grenada
1% of all online sales are donated to Grenada Schools Inc. The charity aims to improve the literacy of children in Grenada by building libraries in schools and supporting children's literacy development, which I personally know has seen some outstanding results. In my opinion, this is a pivotal part of Grenada's long-term development. Because when a child learns to read, their entire world opens up.
Regenerative Organic Farming
We are regenerative in the sense that our diverse cultivation of trees and agricultural crops intercropped with our cocoa trees captures carbon from the atmosphere, putting it back into the soil where it becomes food for plants. The stronger soil regulates air and water underneath, encouraging a continuous fresh water cycle. This means no nutrients and water are lost through soil erosion, maintaining resilience in our local ecosystem. This method of growing is more biologically productive, our soil is continually enriched and nutritious, achieving higher yield and healthy, thriving crops.
Our cocoa is certified Organic by CERES, yet our chocolate is not yet certified organic as we haven't completed the process. Although all of our ingredients and manufacturing practices are organic, we cannot yet say we are. We're working on it
Seed to Button Chocolate
We plant, harvest, ferment, dry, roast, ship, grind, melange, tempe and pack all the chocolate ourselves. We like to keep it all within the family, it never leaves our hands until its in yours!
Preserving Precious Land & Heritage
By turning our cocoa into chocolate, it affords us the time and tools to look after our cocoa fields and invest in the health of the land for generations to come.
No additives, emulsifiers or artificial flavourings
All the ingredients you'll find in our buttons are cocoa beans and sugar. We don't add any extras like soya lecithin, artificial sweeteners, preservatives or extracts and don't plan to anytime soon.
(Way) Beyond Fair Trade
The 'Fairtrade' price of cocoa at farm gate is $2.40 US/kg. We pay $6 US/kg.