Trinidad Express / Six years ago, housewife Jacqueline Matthew did not know she would be co-founder of a chocolate company far less a chocolatier.
But that is exactly what happened to this mother-of-three.
Matthew and her husband Martin are the founders and owners of Tamana Mountain Chocolate.
It is a local chocolate company which launched its signature brand of chocolate earlier this year.
Making anything from dark chocolate, milk chocolate, cocoa white wine, cocoa tea and cocoa ponche de crème just in time for the Christmas season, this crafty couple also make their own cocoa butter soaps, creams and oils.
COMPANY OWNERS: Jacqueline Matthew and her husband, Martin. Matthew’s busy mornings not only includes packing lunches or getting her children ready for school but also taking care of the fields – 10-acres.
She said, “My husband works off-shore and when he comes home he has several weeks with nothing to do. He wanted a project that would occupy his free-time. He decided he wanted to buy some property. Initially, we wanted to buy property closer to town so we can build a house but we never got a response from the seller, so we decided to look more in the country. We saw a piece of land in Tamana and we bought it six years ago. At the time when we purchased the land there were already approximately 200 cocoa trees. They were all healthy and thriving, so my husband thought why not plant 1700 more. I agreed.”
Despite not having any farming experience nor an inkling about the cocoa/chocolate industry, Matthew and her husband were not swayed by the daunting prospect that this could be a potentially bad investment.
She said, “My husband knows a little bit about farming but I had no idea. I just knew we had to make this work. Apart from the cocoa, we also had breadfruit trees, mango trees, cherry trees and some coconut trees that were already there. They all were doing quite well so we kept all of them.”
As their business progressed, Matthew took a four-day chocolate-making course at the University of the West Indies last year.
They couple said they learned the business through trial and error since they had very little experience in farming or chocolate making.
Luckily for the Matthew family, when it came to farming they had a ‘green-thumb’.
In fact, Matthew did not mind stepping in and getting her hands dirty.
SPREAD OUT: Cocoa pods from Tamana Mountain Chocolate Estate. While her husband did the harvesting, Matthew shouldered most of the responsibility when it came to shucking and cleaning the cocoa pods and getting them ready to be made into chocolate.
Despite the gruelling back-breaking work, Matthew says it is some of the finest chocolate you can get in Trinidad and Tobago.
She said, “It takes all day to prepare the cocoa pods before we can make them into chocolate. My sons, Oshun 14 and Zarion 11 love to help, and enjoy getting in there and doing the work. My daughter, Megan 22 is all about quality control. She ensures that the packaging and labelling are to a high standard.
“It takes approximately four days to make a batch of chocolate, and we go through about six pounds of cocoa pods a day, and that usually makes about 50 bars of chocolate. Longago people fermented on the ground and it didn’t yield so well. Today, most people used fermentation boxes because it gets a better turning process and a better yield so my husband made one,” she said.
Matthew says when it comes to their chocolate it is all about quality over quantity.
She said, “The taste of our chocolate is different than what you will find in the grocery store. It is strong, and you can truly get that rich cocoa taste.”
Working with my husband has brought us closer together. What some might consider a whim or sheer dumb luck has been a blessing for the Matthew family.
The couple not only share a passion for chocolate but also history.
They opened a mini museum in their hometown called Tamana Mountain Chocolate Mini Museum.
Showcasing artefacts that represented a different time, the Matthew family wanted to ensure that this piece history was not completely forgotten.
She said, “We have some very old Amerindian artefacts which include an assortment of cutlery and other knick-knacks. We also have a very old Singer sewing machine, a Murphy radio and a 1943 tricycle. Each piece has a story to tell and we are always delighted to give people a tour and share with them what we know.”
C0COA DISPLAY: Different cocoa products derived from Tamana Mountain Chocolate. “The little museum has encouraged those from the area of Talparo/Tamana to bring in old items they would stumble across when they go hiking or items they would have gotten from their grandparents or great- grandparents. We encourage them to attach any bits of information they might have on the item, and then we catalogue it,” Matthew said.
The couple from Talparo are eager to bring recognition to their hometown and hopefully put their cocoa estate in Tamana on the map for being the place with the best chocolate in world.
For more information email [email protected]
TRINIDAD Y TOBAGO: The Chocolatier couple of Tamana
Con Información de Trinidad Express
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