Crayfish Bay Organic Estate, Grenada - Kim & Lylette Russell
It has been a goal of ours to work with a West Indian grower since we made our first batch of chocolate with some Jamaican beans. This is not only because Chris was born and raised in the Caribbean, but also because this region produces some of the world’s best cacao.
We are therefore extremely proud to be the sole producer of a single estate chocolate bar from Crayfish Bay Estate in Grenada. I spoke with Kim Russell of the estate and asked him about how they do things there and what makes their cacao stand out.
What makes Crayfish Bay Estate so unique amongst Grenadian cocoa growers?
The worker arrangement we have is interesting and innovative. I am a great believer in fairtrade - not stamps on packaging, but the real thing. So about three years ago I made an agreement with the workers whereby they took over the running of the estate, did all the hiring and firing, decided on wage structure, etc. Financially they get 90% of the returns on wet cocoa which they are very happy, and the same applies to all other produce on the farm. Since setting this up, the state of the estate and the quality of their lives has improved enormously - truly fairtrade - they do 90% of the work, they get 90% of the returns! Lylette and I are responsible for the sweating, drying and marketing of the beans, and so along with our cottage rental we also make a humble income. If all is shared, no one gets rich, but all get enough....
What is the soil like on the estate?
The soil here is acidic and has a high organic content due to the constant defoliage of the cocoa. This works in a similar way to the rain forest. As long as one is not greedy and the cocoa is well looked after in terms of pruning and cleaning, it looks after itself and needs no fertilizer or manure...
What varieties of beans do you grow?
Most of our cocoa is Criollo, approximately 25% Forestero and a very small amount of Trinitario.
All of your cacao is fermented and dried on site. How do you manage the fermentation and drying processes?
Fermentation is as follows; we try to keep the minimum pick to around 500lbs as any less than this does not reach the temperature needed for correct fermentation. The wet cocoa is then put in a wooden 'bin', covered with banana leaves and sacking to retain heat and left untouched for 48 hours. It is then turned every 24 hours for the next 5 to 7 days (depending on several factors including amount, outside temperature and humidity) so that all beans reach the same temperature and the acidity changes are constant throughout the entire batch. At the end of this the beans have lost a lot of their moisture and have become brown and sticky. At this point they are transfered to the drying shed. All of this work is done by hand.
How big is the estate?
The estate comprises 15 acres, about 13 of which is under cocoa.....we have five natural springs on the land, so no shortage of water, but most of the land is steep, so also no problem with drainage. The land faces west overlooking the Caribbean sea.
Where do your beans end up?
Our beans are sold to the Grenada Chocolate Company, who combine the beans with other Grenadian beans to make Grenadan chocolate from bean to bar on the island. Otherwise Pump Street Bakery is the only chocolate maker to have access to the beans and the only one to make a single estate Crayfish Bay bar.
We make the following bar using solely Crayfish Bay Estate beans:
Grenada - Crayfish Bay 70% - International Chocolate Awards 2015 Double European Gold & World Silver - Academy of Chocolate 2015 Silver - Great Taste Awards 2015 2 Gold Stars