Brasso Seco's Love for Cocoa
Trinitario cocoa, a fruity, floral distinctly flavored variety of cocoa, indigenous to Trinidad and Tobago, was once a golden crop at the turn of the 19th century. Due to various factors, this export product once valued higher than sugar took a staggering decline around the 1930’s.
Even after the decline, it was illegal for cocoa to be sold domestically. All cocoa had to be sold to the Cocoa and Coffee Industry Board (CCIB). Only very recently have local cocoa farmers been given the rights to use their own cocoa to produce their own products.
Situated between the lush mountains of the Northern Range, lies the quiet community of Brasso Seco. With a population of 350 persons, this tiny community is proud to be producing their very own cocoa products and are one of the few cocoa estates opening their doors to the public to learn about the history of cocoa and the bean to bar production.
I had a quick chat with Kelly Fitzjames, co-dirctor of ARC, Alliance of Rural Communication who with her business partner and director, Jillian Godard, are helping members of 4 rural areas also known as “Farming Families,” create income generating products to bring employment opportunities to their communities. These Farming Families include, Biche and Cush, Grande Rivere, Brasso Seco and Louis D’or Tobago, who all proudly create their own cocoa products which include chocolate bars.communities
At one point in time, farmers of cocoa plantations never had the opportunity to taste a chocolate bar because cocoa was only grown for export. “In colonized nations there has always been a theft of natural resources which separates those who are naturally within these spaces from their environment. The resources were taken and sold back to the persons growing the same resources. Our cocoa was exported to create chocolate bars which were sold back to us.” One of ARC’s missions is to flip the story. For generations, the communities known for growing cocoa were labouring behind the cocoa but were never able to benefit from the sales of value added products. ARC continues to encourage cocoa growers to make their own products using their own resources and are also trying to create a cultural shift of locals believing that foreign products are of better quality and more valuable than local products.
The Brasso Seco cocoa tour is informative, engaging, fun and will leave you beaming with national pride and a serious craving for all things chocolate. The tour includes a taste of homemade cocoa tea, a walk through the cocoa estate, an opportunity to dance the cocoa, a bean to bar explanation and chocolate tasting and a delicious Brasso Seco style lunch. Although the drive to Brasso is a long, winding and slightly intimidating it’s also scenic and absolutely worth it.
Check out our instagram page for updates on when our next tour to Brasso Seco will be. You can also check out Brasso Seco Chocolate Company’s page for more information. Also check out my debut on EatahFood’s “Out and About.” As nervous as I was, I had an awesome time. Maybe we’ll do some more of these soon. If you haven’t already, check out the EatAhFood channel for all things local food.