Tobago Cocoa Estate - Gourmet Chocolate

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Tobago Cocoa Estate - Gourmet Chocolate

Post by Steve Wooler » Tue May 17, 2011 9:35 am

One of the main highlights of our 2011 stay in Tobago was a visit to the Tobago Cocoa Plantation at Roxborough. I can honestly say that no sightseeing feature on Tobago has impressed me more, or as much. It wasn’t just that the tour was interesting and the tiny sample of chocolate we were able to sample absolutely scrumptious, but every bit as much because the operation is clearly so very professionally (something of a rarity in Tobago) conceived and managed and the enthusiasm and dedication of owner, Duane Dove, so deserving of support.

Tobago Cocoa Plantations is the only working cocoa plantation on Tobago. All their output goes to a master chocolatier in France. So, anybody else claiming to manufacture genuine Tobago chocolate – such as a certain German manufacturer – is either telling porkies or is sourcing the odd sack of beans here and there from a variety of disparate small private growers; they certainly can’t be using genuine high-quality organic single-estate Tobago cocoa beans such as Duane produces.

[2013 UPDATE] Over the past year I have received a number of complaints about the variable quality of the tours at the Tobago Cocoa Plantation. I suspect that the problem is entirely related to whether the owner is present and handling the tour, or whether it is handled by a member of his staff. Duane Dove's main business is in Sweden and that is where he spends most of his time. I suspect their is a gulf between the knowledge and enthusiasm that he can impart to tour visitors and that of his staff. For these reasons, I am concerned that our original report could give visitors a false impression and have therefore withdrawn it from our list of recommended tours.
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Re: Tobago Cocoa Estate - Gourmet Chocolate

Post by Andy K » Tue May 17, 2011 5:19 pm

If you are looking for that place, don't get fooled by some Roxborough locals who don't know where
it is and who direct you to the old run down cocoa estate near the secondary school.
Ask them the way to the cocoa operation "what de white boy does" :) if you can't find the way yourself.
Turn off from Windward Road as if you want to go to Argyle Waterfall.
As you reach a junction at the Argyle Waterfall car park, turn left and follow the dirt road up the hills.
The road is presently in a reasonable condition and can be used by normal cars at least during the dry season.

Check the following link for particulars and tours:

http://www.tobagococoa.com/home.php

A short video can be found here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rYEK_5T ... re=related

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Re: Tobago Cocoa Estate - Gourmet Chocolate

Post by TomC » Thu May 19, 2011 3:01 pm

Steve
I’ve been a reader of your forum for many years but never felt sufficiently motivated to post before. Your honest opinion and forthright views have always won respect, particularly with foreign residents like me. You will know that corruption is almost endemic here beneath the glossy surface. Together with the often vindictive nature of those in authority, particularly towards anyone of a lighter skin shade who question their actions, has taught many of us to keep our own counsel. So, excuse my assumed name.
Without meaning to be critical, I wonder why you are being more circumspect and diplomatic than usual.
The official representative of the T&T tourism departments (TDC/THA) in German is one Biki Khurana. Not a typical German name, so something of a coincidence that the general manager of Rausch & Rausch, who make the ‘Tobago’ chocolate, should carry the same name.
The Rausch and Rausch website states “There are some old cocoa plantations that we rediscovered. In cooperation with the government of Tobago we have been working for some years now at recultivating savaged cocoa plantations. It is a long-term project; its aim is to conserve the nature of this beautiful island.”
I assume you have asked your contacts in the tourism department where these plantations are? What was their response? I have interests in the agricultural sector and have no knowledge of any plantations that the government (THA) and Rausch are allegedly re-cultivating on Tobago.
This administration seems hell-bent on destroying tourism. When will they stop treating visitors like fools?
Keep up the good work.

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Re: Tobago Cocoa Estate - Gourmet Chocolate

Post by Steve Wooler » Thu May 19, 2011 4:14 pm

Welcome aboard Tom :D

Don’t worry; I’m not getting soft in my old age.

My post was intended solely to announce the publication of our review of the Tobago Cocoa Estate. I am sorry that my frustrations showed and that I included that second paragraph. Apart from anything else, it is unfair on Duane Dove of Tobago Cocoa to associate such allegations/suggestions with a post about his plantation because he had nothing to do with my comments.

I had heard about the Rausch situation before visiting the cocoa estate. I asked Duane about it and it was clearly something he was embarrassed by and didn’t want to discuss. This more or less confirmed what I had already been told. He confirmed that he did not provide beans to Rausch & Rausch or know who did. There was no point in causing further embarrassment, so I dropped the subject; it was totally irrelevant to a review about a visitor attraction.

Yes, it does seem that there is some association between the TDC/THA and Rausch & Rausch of Germany via their German-based marketing representative. What I can’t figure is why they would claim that the cocoa beans come from Tobago if they don’t. It just doesn’t make sense.

Perhaps I can ask any other readers based in Tobago (or elsewhere) to let me know if that have any knowledge of where, or if, Rausch & Rausch source their cocoa beans for their ‘Tobago’ chocolate.

No, I have not raised the matter with the tourism department. The simple and astonishing fact is that I have had NO meaningful contact with the THA tourism department since Neil Wilson left office a few years back. Despite more than 40% of all overseas parties using myTobago.info at some stage during their holiday research, and a readership greater than the combined total of EVERY website on, or about, Tobago, I have never had a reply to a single email sent to Oswald Williams (Secretary of Tourism) or his department. Why waste my time writing to them again? They show nothing but contempt for my efforts! I shouldn’t be surprised: this is a department that refuses entry to their head office by tourists dressed in conventional tourist clothing (sandals, shorts, etc). Frankly, that says it all. What hope is there for Tobago with mind-sets like this?
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Re: Tobago Cocoa Estate - Gourmet Chocolate

Post by David Watkins » Fri May 20, 2011 10:59 am


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Re: Tobago Cocoa Estate - Gourmet Chocolate

Post by Steve Wooler » Fri May 20, 2011 11:06 am

Hi David

Yes, thanks, I looked that up after Tom mentioned it. Doesnt' give us any clues as to where these plantations are though. I was dissapointed to see that Neil Wilson seemed to be involved, judging by the picture. I see Anslem London is in the photo. Don't recognise the guy on the left.
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Re: Tobago Cocoa Estate - Gourmet Chocolate

Post by Patrick Dankou » Sun May 22, 2011 11:18 am

Hi Josi,

the government info is from 1998 and since then many of the people involved in Cocoa in Tobago have given up.
There is no significant output of Tobago Cocoa except from Duane Dove's estate. I have heard about a recent fam trip with german travel agents to Duane's estate organized by the THA tourism division, the german tour guide was the son of Mr. Rausch who now works for the THA german tourist office, his boss is Biki Khurana. Why didn't they visit the "secret" Rausch Tobago plantation?
Honi soit qui mal y pense.... :^o
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Re: Tobago Cocoa Estate - Gourmet Chocolate

Post by Andy K » Mon May 23, 2011 5:26 pm

Cocoa production may have been down to almost zero for some time, but obviously it has picked up
again here and there, which is much appreciated.
The honorable minster for food production, Mr. Vasanth Barath, launched a project in Trinidad just recently and
i hope this will include support for cocoa farmers in Tobago as well. Watching the pictures on facebook about the
visit of Tobago cocoa farmers in Trinidad, this seems to be the case. I wish everybody good luck in this endeavour.

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Re: Tobago Cocoa Estate - Gourmet Chocolate

Post by Richardus » Mon Jun 13, 2011 11:37 pm

We loved our visit to the cocoa plantation, particularly the breakfast on the gazebo. Our only disappointment was that there was no chocolate for sale when we were there :(

http://i284.photobucket.com/albums/ll38 ... 011172.jpg

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Re: Tobago Cocoa Estate - Gourmet Chocolate

Post by Patrick Dankou » Tue Jun 14, 2011 12:07 am

Are you still on the island? Contact me please, I have stashed away some, you can also go to Morshead supermarket who might have some left.
Regards
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Re: Tobago Cocoa Estate - Gourmet Chocolate

Post by Richardus » Tue Jun 14, 2011 3:00 am

Back in Canada now, I suppose we could order some online at this point, but thanks Patrick!

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Re: Tobago Cocoa Estate - Gourmet Chocolate

Post by Patrick Dankou » Tue Jun 14, 2011 3:07 am

Duane just set up distribution in Germany, maybe you know somebody who would like to do the same in Canada?
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Re: Tobago Cocoa Estate - Gourmet Chocolate

Post by Richardus » Tue Jun 14, 2011 11:51 pm

I live in a scenic area where there are also tourists and a lot of high-end boutiques. If you like I could ask around a few of the trendy shops to see if they are interested?

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Re: Tobago Cocoa Estate - Gourmet Chocolate

Post by Richardus » Wed Jun 29, 2011 3:48 am

Well Patrick I sent you an email asking about distributing chocolate in Canada but no response, it's ok, if you want you can always send me a note when you are ready.

In the meantime, I put together some more clips, this one was from our tour of the cocoa estate! Enjoy!


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Re: Tobago Cocoa Estate - Gourmet Chocolate

Post by Lynn Morris » Tue Jan 17, 2012 1:22 am

We had a tour of the Cocoa Plantation today, & agree with Steve - it is fascinating & by far the best tour on Tobago! Duane has done so much in such a short time & is so passionate about the plantation & making it work. He is creating employment for the local people, which will increase as production increases. We wish him the very best for this amazing venture!

Duane told us that you now buy his chocolate at the shop upstairs in the departure lounge at Tobago Airport & also at Fortnum & Mason's in Lindon, UK. Rest assured we will be buying some - it is by far the best chocolate I have ever tasted. It is great that we will be able to buy it when we get back home to the UK!!

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Re: Tobago Cocoa Estate - Gourmet Chocolate

Post by Richardus » Sat Mar 03, 2012 2:36 pm

Good to hear there is some of Duane's chocolate available in Tobago. In the departure lounge at the airport, I hope we don't have to wait until we are leaving Tobago to buy some. I still have not been able to obtain a bar. I will watch for it though, thank you for the information.

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Re: Tobago Cocoa Estate - Gourmet Chocolate

Post by Steve Wooler » Mon Dec 03, 2012 11:29 am

I’d like to briefly come back to my comments about the German chocolate manufacturer, Rausch, at the top of this thread.

Rausch sell a gourmet chocolate that they claimed was manufactured from their own cocoa plantation in Tobago. We could find no trace of that plantation, or any Tobago plantation providing cocoa beans to Rausch. During my investigations, I was put in touch with a well-known German Chocolatier, Mr Georg Bernardini. He told me that he would be making a full exposure of what he claimed were blatant lies by Raush’s in a new book. He followed up, a few weeks ago, telling me that the book, “Der Schokoladentester”, would be available on http://www.amazon.de from 31st October. A preview of the book is attached below.
Schokotester_promo.pdf
(2.91 MiB) Downloaded 321 times
It is alleged that Rausch have now admitted that the claim they have been making for 10 years about their involvement with cocoa estates in Tobago, Ecuador and Madagascar are false. It is similarly alleged that an in-flight promotional video shown on Air Berlin flights last year, purporting to show the Rausch representative on their Tobago plantation, was a complete fabrication.

Apparently, there is has been some fairly extensive coverage of this matter in the German press and more information is available to those who can speak German via the following links:

http://de.chclt.net/rausch-schokoladen- ... eklariert/
http://www.welt.de/lifestyle/article111 ... eller.html

Now, I guess that most of us couldn’t give a toss about the claims of a chocolate manufacturer. However, what so disappoints me and so shatters my faith in Tobago is the fact that local officials on Tobago seem to have been complicit in this. The Rausch website continues to make these claims. Their web page detailing their Tobago chocolate stills shows Rausch executives with senior officials of the Tobago House of Assembly. Most disturbing of all: the General Manager of Rausch is one Biki Khurana, a Trinidadian. Is it a coincidence that this same individual was also the official representative of T&T in Germany and ran the German T&T Tourist Office?
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Re: Tobago Cocoa Estate - Gourmet Chocolate

Post by Chris Runciman » Tue Dec 04, 2012 12:07 pm

We spent a great morning walking around the estate, of special interest were the Arabica coffee bushes but no coffee beans for sale, only for staff use which was a shame. I have tried to propagate them in Castara but to no avail. YET!
Gourmet chocolate yes but very well traveled to say the least!
The lady who showed us around said the beans were sent to Trinidad for processing ( not done onsite )then sent to Sweden and then on to Lyon for finishing and packaging and then all the way back to Morshead (and Fortnum & Mason of course!) No wonder it is so expensive! Buying the processing equipment to do it on island is about £140,000 plus shipping from Arbroath. Yvonne says NO! Oh well.....
Business opportunity there for some well heeled local entrepreneur with government connections maybe?
We have cocoa " Criolo" variety in the garden and will be trying(?) to make our own chocolate soon. Already making cocoa tea from the 'nibs' we get. Bring back home the cocoa 'balls' you find on sale for the best cup of chocolate ever.
Ann Codrington in Castara makes great cocoa balls!

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Re: Tobago Cocoa Estate - Gourmet Chocolate

Post by Paul Tallet » Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:47 pm

Totally agree.

Before I went on the tour I had the impression that everything was produced on the estate. But it is a farm that produces only the cocoa beans and they are matured and then sent away to be processed into chocolate and the bars you buy in the airport have been transported back to Tobago.

Having said this, Duanne demonstrated that it can be produced 100% fromTobago but that it would be commercially unviable and the humidity in Tobago makes it even more risky and so he ships the beans away for processing into chocolate.

This is not a criticism, just a fact ... and it would be nice if there are any entrepeneurs that can set up a processing plant in Tobago that could talk to Duanne and create more jobs and opportunities.

Best of luck with your beans Chris ...

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