Saluting the Best Trinidad Chocolate

In this post, I’ve chosen to salute the best Trinidad chocolate, having just returned from the World Chocolate and Cocoa Day Expo in Port of Spain in October.

Cocobel Chocolate, Gina’s Chocolate, Ortinola, Voulez Chocolat, Daisy Dahlin, and the Cocoa Republic are a few of the Trinidadian chocolate brands I enjoyed. They are all made using locally grown fine flavour Trinitario cacao. The Pointe Baptiste Estate Chocolate shown above is made in Dominica, but while in Trinidad, I met chocolate maker Alan Napier, who was mentored in his chocolate making venture by the knowledgeable folks at the Cocoa Research Centre based in Trinidad.
cocobel-chocolate
Isabel Brash of Cocobel Chocolate makes a wonderful variety of handcrafted chocolate from delicious truffles and bark to unique bean-to-bar single estate chocolate bars.

Trinidad specializes in growing fine flavour Trinitario cacao, from which its delicious chocolate is made. I will focus on the Cocoa Genebank and growing of cacao in Trinidad in a future post. In this post, we’ll stick to the deliciousness of Trinidad chocolate.

meet the women of trinidad chocolate

Exploring the booths at the chocolate expo introduced me to several terrific chocolate companies, as well as learning more about Cocobel Chocolate, probably the most impressive chocolate company in Port of Spain, with its handcrafted bean-to-bar artisan offerings including a wide array of sumptuous truffles. I absolutely adored the 65% dark chocolate bar made with guava cheese–and no, it’s not cheese as we know it. Guava cheese is a cross between fruit leather and jam, and goes immensely well with the estate grown Trinitario chocolate made by Cocobel.

It was a pleasure meeting Isabel Brash of Cocobel Chocolate. Isabel is a trained architect who uses her architectural skills to create truly beautiful three-dimensional chocolates. She had been kind enough to send me a sampling of her chocolate–including her ever-popular chocolate barks–several years ago, but meeting her, tasting her latest offerings, and gaining a greater understanding of the motivation behind her company are what makes chocolate travel and my work with Chocolatour so meaningful and worthwhile.

Gina Hardy (pictured above) of Gina Artisan Chocolatier makes an amazing array of handcrafted truffles. I tasted the raspberry passionfruit truffle and loved it. Gina also makes a fabulous assortment of single origin bars featuring fine flavour Trinidad-grown Trinitario cocoa. Her 70% Midnight Hummingbird Chocolate is so pure and delicious, I brought back several bars to feature in the upcoming chocolate tastings I am hosting here in Canada.

This is me having a chocogasm enroute back from Trinidad, as I enjoyed the pure decadence and chocolate artistry of Voulez Chocolat.

On the long flight back from Trinidad, I couldn’t stop myself from breaking into my chocolate stash. Remember to always have your chocolate in your carry-on luggage to ensure it isn’t exposed to extreme changes in temperature or humidity–and just incase you need a delicious distraction to help you get through a long flight. Such was the case when I treated myself to two incredible chocolate confections made by Noren Nunez, the self-proclaimed Couverture Chocolate Specialist who owns Voulez Chocolat Luxury Artisan Chocolate. Noren began making chocolate in Europe in 1991, where she perfected the elegance of chocolate that celebrated the silkiness of Belgian and Swiss-made chocolate. In 2013, Noren began making chocolate in Dallas, Texas. She now combines her time between Dallas and Port of Spain, Trinidad.

Noren Nunez is originally from Port of Spain, Trinidad, and has perfected her chocolate making talents by learning European-style chocolate making in Belgium and Switzerland, setting up shop in Dallas, Texas, and coming full circle to bring her talent back to Trinidad, where she can marry the fine flavour of Trinitario cocoa with noteworthy chocolate infusions.

Ortinola Estate Chocolate was another favourite of mine. Below, you’ll see Nikita Nath, the chocolatier at Ortinola. I plan to do a post devoted to the natural beauty of the Ortinola Estate and the tours and afternoon tea you can enjoy while there. But I just had to include them here as it fits so nicely with the theme that has emerged. The finest Trinidad chocolate is being made by women!

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

48 Responses

  1. Wow–you really met some fascinating women during this trip, and as you always do, packed a lot into the days you were there. Is any of this chocolate available in Canada? I’d certainly love to try some. I’ll have to remember your tip about packing chocolate in the carry-on luggage. We’ll definitely need some on our next trip to New Zealand. I’m not sure that the great chocolate they have there will actually make it home, but we can try to bring you some.

    • Hi Christine. Yes, packing chocolate in your carry-on is the only way to ensure it will get home safely, and hopefully, without damage. That’s more important for truffles and fresh chocolates, but even chocolate bars can experience extensive damage if overheated. I’d love to taste some NZ Chocolate. Off the top of my head, I can’t recall if I’ve tasted any. There may be some packaging in my stash, but if I can’t recall it, it likely means it wasn’t super great. Always on the search for something amazing … πŸ™‚

  2. Gina says:

    Thank you so much for your fabulous article: your work does so much to promote our cocoa and chocolate to the rest of the world.
    With love and gratitude,
    Gina Hardy

    • Thanks so much for those words of support, Gina. They mean the world to me. It is truly my goal to educate the public about the best chocolate of the world, and encourage them to travel to its source, as in most cases, makers of small batch chocolate do not do international shipping. If you do, let my readers know, as I see Christine from Canada is already asking if any of the chocolate I’ve mentioned is available in Canada.

  3. Isabel Brash says:

    Thank you, Doreen! Great selection and such positive feedback πŸ™‚ Lovely article and we are so proud to be featured πŸ™‚
    Warm regards,
    Isabel

    • Thanks very much for your comment, Isabel. It is always such a pleasure for me to discover really good chocolate in unexpected destinations such as Trinidad. Do keep me in the loop of any new developments at Cocobel.

  4. It is wonderful to hear the women of Trinidad are thriving in the chocolate industry.

    The chocolates featured look tantalising. I enjoy eating quality chocolate- the kind that feels velvety on your tongue and has an array of flavours that blend in your mouth.

  5. Linda Paul says:

    Loved this post, Doreen. The guava-cheese chocolate sounds intriguing. And the idea of an architect chocolatier is also intriguing. Adore the photo of you enjoying your stash! Good tip about carrying chocolate in carry-on.

    • Thanks so much for stopping by, Linda. It’s always great hearing from you. Congrats on your new book. I know how much work you’ve put into the research and have enjoyed your blog posts that undoubtedly were fodder for the book. I’m hoping to do the same shortly, as volume II of Chocolatour is long overdue. πŸ™‚

  6. Molly says:

    Now is the perfect time of year to investigate and try new chocolates.. Trinitario cocoa bars sound amazing
    Molly recently posted…Nativity in Spain – How did the tradition began + Where to see Belenes in AndaluciaMy Profile

    • Hi Molly and welcome to Chocolatour! I see you write a lot about Spain. Spain makes great chocolate in both the old world tradition, as well as some contemporary chocolatiers that are making some amazing chocolate. Every day of the year is a good time to discover great chocolate. πŸ™‚ I hope you’ll return to this site again soon.

  7. Linda Strange says:

    Great descriptive article, Doreen. I swear my tastebuds were responding to the flavours you describe. Passionfruit and raspberry with a beautiful chocolate!! Oh Wow!
    I’m comforted that passionfruit is at it’s best when mature and wrinkled.
    The diverse and lovely people you meet are another benefit you share with us from your travels. Bravo to them for following their calling. And to you, too ! LL

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Linda. Yes, the great people I meet in my chocolate travels are equally important to me as the chocolate they are making or cocoa they are growing. And yes, passionfruit is one of my favourite things to be paired with chocolate, and Gina’s chocolate raspberry truffle was a party in the mouth! πŸ™‚

  8. Judy Lawless says:

    My mouth is watering, Doreen! And I want your job! ha, ha. I’m sorry that I don’t often enough get time to read your posts because they are wonderful. It’s grand to see that all of these Chocolatiers are women, as well.

  9. Phoenix says:

    I’m thrilled to know that it is the women of Trinidad who are making the chocolate waves!

  10. Janet says:

    I’m always amazed at how many passionate chocolate lovers are. Chocolate is definitely in the fabric of life.

  11. Noreen says:

    Thank you so much for your kind words Doreen. It was a pleasure to have been featured and nice to see other women in chocolate being featured. Looking forward to seeing you next year in Salon du Chocolat.

    • Thanks so much for your comment. Which Salon du Chocolat do you mean? I’m not planning to go to Paris (was at theirs Salon in β€˜09) but I know they have them at many cities around the world.

  12. Jackie K Smith says:

    Loved ‘meeting’ the women who are behind the great chocolates of Trinidad! (And good idea to keep your stash in the carry-on!)

  13. Doreen, once again you delivered up a “sweet” article. We know that we can always count on you to impart some local knowledge about the chocolate business throughout the world. It looks like your exploration for the best chocolates from Trinidad was a huge success.

  14. Nikita says:

    Doreen thank you so much for visiting us and featuring us in this great post! It was our pleasure to have you and thank you for sharing your Trinidad experience with the world

    With love from the big Ortinola family πŸ˜€

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Nikki. I really enjoyed the tour and afternoon tea at Ortinola in addition to your chocolate. πŸ™‚ I will be writing more about it in a subsequent post, so stay tuned!

  15. Rosemary says:

    What a fascinating experience. Loved reading about these amazing and talented women who are spreading chocolate joy in the world. I didn’t know Trinidad has makes chocolate so thanks for enlightening me on that. Great article.

    • Thanks so much for stopping by, Rosemary. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Please have a look around, as you’ll find many more intriguing posts introducing you to the creative men and women making the best chocolate of the world. πŸ™‚

  16. My daughters are becoming a bit of chocolate connoisseurs these days. We can’t get away with buying dollar-store-style chocolate anymore. It’s very interesting to read about chocolates created where cocoa comes from. We will soon be branching out and trying new brands.
    Jessica – A Modern Mom’s Life recently posted…How to Practice Independence with your Children Just in Time for the HolidaysMy Profile

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Jessica. Yes, once you taste the good stuff, there’s no going back to dollar store chocolate! It really does change the way you understand and taste chocolate, once you’ve been to a cocoa plantation and see all the work and creativity that goes into growing and processing the cocoa.

  17. I remember fondly my visit to a cacao plantation on Trinidad. It makes sense that these women are making wonderful chocolates in Trinidad, since I believe that women in general do enjoy chocolate more than men. I have embraced your comment re. keeping any chocolate you are traveling with in your carry-on, to protect it from temperature changes . . . but not from your mouth.

    • Your comment made me smile, Carole. Indeed, one of the benefits of having your chocolate in your carry-on is that it will be close-at-hand for when you get the urge for a taste. πŸ™‚ Do you happen to recall the name of the cacao plantation you visited in Trinidad? I shall be writing about my visit to some cocoa farms while I was in Trinidad, so stay tuned.

  18. Trinitario cocoa must be a great source of fine chocolate. Some amazing women in Trinidad’s chocolate industry. Chocogasm is a good word!

  19. Lori says:

    As chocoholics we’re always looking for new chocolates. Your article focusing on women is excellent as are these chocolates. Thank you. Now it’s off to Trinidad!!

  20. Beverly says:

    I thank you for providing another wonderful post about the amazing world of chocolate. I enjoyed the advice about carrying chocolate in our carry on luggage.

    • Thanks for your comment, Bev. Yes, putting chocolate in checked luggage can result in quite a disappointment. It’s kind of like the difference between sending chocolate in the regular mail and not knowing how it will arrive, or sending it via courier and knowing it will arrive in fine shape and flavour.

  21. It’s wonderful to see the creative women behind trinidad chocolate. It all sounds delicious! Wish I’d been at that tasting. I feel like I’ve been preparing for the event my whole life! πŸ˜‰
    Juliann – Browsing the Atlas recently posted…A Medieval Feast at Olde HansaMy Profile

    • Hello Juliann and thanks for your comment. It’s too bad you’re not in Winnipeg. We are having a chocolate tasting event on Friday, December 6th. Exotic bean-to-bar chocolate of the world. YUMMM!

  22. Patti Morrow says:

    Who knew Trinidad had such luscious-looking chocolates! Thanks for the tip!

  23. I always love reading about the chocolates you find in your travels. Almost as good as tasting the actual treat! Trinidad certainly has some talented female chocolatiers.
    alison abbott recently posted…The Best Hotel Barge Cruise in Southern FranceMy Profile

    • Hi Alison and thanks for your comment. Indeed, the women of chocolate are certainly changing the world of chocolate! No one eats more chocolate than us women, so it’s nice to see the women creating the chocolate products and packaging with our feminine tastes in mind. πŸ™‚

  24. I’m intrigued by the beautiful pieces of chocolate–we’ve come along way, eh? Sometimes they’re so lovely, it’s hard (for a moment) to bite in!

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