The Cocoa Jumbie
Cocobel Chocolates are artisanal creations of Isabel Brash, who says that she fell into chocolate like Alice falling down the rabbit hole of endless wonder and enchantment. Using exclusively the beans from the Rancho Quemado Estate in south Trinidad, Isabel transforms cocoa beans into chocolate and creates all her flavours in the chocolate kitchen at the house which she designed and built in genteel Woodbrook, Port of Spain. Isabel is a trained architect turned chocolatier and her chocolates reflect the balance of form and function: just as delightful to look at as they are to eat! Her vision is for Trinidad’s fine flavor cocoa to be enjoyed in every form right here on the island. The chocolate kitchen is to be expanded into a cocoa café.
"Who knows how the original Americans (Olmec, Aztec, Maya) first found the way to transform a bitter bean into the delectable brew fit for kings? This knowledge is part of civilization for over five thousand years, and available for anyone. I consider it my good fortune to have re-discovered it.
My chocolate making was born out of curiosity. It was an experiment in transformation that transformed me. When interest becomes obsession, an all-consuming passion, we say you are possessed, you “have a jumbie.” My jumbie is cacao, xoxoatl, chocolate. My father called her cocobel – brown beauty, earth born.
When I mentioned to my brother that I was going to try to make chocolate, he offered to bring me beans from his estate in Rancho Quemado, which lies in the deep south of Trinidad. It is planted in a variety of trees including cedar, teak, mahogany, orange, coffee and cocoa.
The greatest reward from the chocolate process is pleasure. It is the pleasure of seeing people transformed when they experience the magic of a piece of chocolate. Eyes droop, a deeper breath, small smile, the flush on the skin as we tap something wild and raw. It is a mystic transformation to feelings deeply honest and visceral, to moments of truth.
Chocolate making has given me a new appreciation for food. I have a deeper connection and appreciation for the bounty of the earth. "