Inspired by nature: Rabot Estate Coffee

14 May 2021


Seeing wild coffee growing on our Rabot Estate cacao farm inspired us to turn our passion to another bean – coffee

Our intense love affair with coffee began when we found wild coffee plants growing amongst the cacao groves. Things that grow together go together, we say, and perhaps this is why chocolate and coffee unite so perfectly. Taking it as nature’s sign, we decided to dive into the world of coffee.

What inspired Rabot Estate Coffee?

The Rabot Estate farm in Saint Lucia is a verdant paradise. With 140 acres of sprawling rainforest and lush greenery, it is where the finest cacao trees thrive. As cacao farmers ourselves, we care about how all our produce is grown and raised, whether on our farm or further afield.

From cacao-rich treats to luxurious beauty products, we’ve always been inspired by nature’s bounty. The wealth of botanicals grown on the tropical isle of Saint Lucia have proven to be our muse for each new creation. And our latest collection of invigorating coffee beans and pods is no exception.

As well as being home to the mighty cacao pod, the estate houses coconut and mango trees — botanical heroes that provide naturally active properties to nourish the mind, body, and soul.

We threw ourselves headfirst into this new world, applying everything we know about roasting and grinding some of the finest cacao in the world, to coffee beans.

We decided that great coffee should be uncomplicated. We want you to sip your drink in the knowledge that your coffee didn’t harm the environment and that the people who grew it were treated fairly.

We wanted to make it easy to find a flavour you like, take it home and brew barista-grade coffee at home. Why? Because we believe in our three pillars of Originality, Authenticity and Ethics.

As the CEO of the Rabot Estate in St Lucia and a coffee connoisseur, Jo Brett is part of the exciting journey. Her knowledge of coffee and her respect for the environment and local communities in coffee-growing regions is just as inspiring as the natural surroundings themselves.

Where do we source our coffee from?

The initial discovery of wild coffee plants growing in harmony with the cacao trees in our own organic cacao farm sparked an idea that would take us on a worldwide journey.

The coffee bean has a fascinating history. Though its origins lie in Ethiopia, different varieties of coffee are now grown across the globe. Location and growing conditions impact the aromas, flavours and acidity of different coffee beans, which is why there are so many nuances and types to choose from.

We decided to harness our expertise in creating amazing flavours with our chocolate and use them to create five distinctive, flavourful coffee blends. Drawing from decades of experience as chocolatiers and cacao roasters, we roasted and blended beans from a combination of locations. We didn’t stop until we found the ultimate flavours that deliver ethical coffee with a unique personality.

For example, our signature coffee, ‘The One,’ brings together sustainably grown beans from Brazil, Colombia and Rwanda. The way farmers in these areas have cultivated their coffee gives the beans a unique flavour we haven’t experienced anywhere else.

‘Oh, Hello,’ is a fruity concoction with notes of dark chocolate for an indulgent edge. The flavours come from the fertile soil of coffee farms in Valle de Cauca, Colombia, and the Sidama region of Ethiopia. Together, the two areas have produced delightfully vibrant beans.

Exclusive Interview with Jo Brett: CEO, Saint Lucia

Jo Brett is at the helm of Hotel Chocolat Saint Lucia, where she champions ethical, sustainable cacao farming on our estate and across the island. She is also the driving force behind our foray into coffee-growing and can offer great insight into the motives behind this exciting new venture.

Happy people equals good coffee

“A really good coffee shop is my happy place. It’s a place to people-watch. I love the daily ritual of coffee and the human connections made in coffee shops, from the baristas to the customers. I like seeing it being made, the scents and sounds, and of course, enjoying the taste of it.

I drink about two cups each morning. At home in Saint Lucia, I just have a cafetière, but I love all types of coffee.

I was the US president of Pret in New York for five years. I obsessed about the ultimate customer experience. I was always asking, ‘How happy is the barista?’ Because I knew that if the barista was happy, the customer would be happy.

Now I’m completely immersed at the other end of the chain, and I’m thinking about the grower. Are the farmers and the plant happy and in tune with one another? The connection between the farmer and plant here is as strong as the connection between customers and baristas in a cafe.

In New York, convenience is king, and it’s the same in Saint Lucia. I learned this from Jerry, one of our veteran cacao growers. We live on a small island, but a one-hour drive here feels much longer, more like driving from London to Manchester. Every week, one of the farmers in the local community would collect everyone’s harvests and make the long drive down to us.

Saint Lucia’s coffee renaissance

So I thought: well, we can come to you. Now we collect their cacao and coffee beans from a collection point that’s convenient for them. We also deliver their payment a week later, on a Thursday, so they can access their money for the weekend.”

“I brought my own supply of coffee to Saint Lucia, and now I’m just growing my own. I brought a few months’ supply of what I like because I wasn’t sure what I’d be able to get here. But I tried some coffee grown by one of our Island Growers, Roderick, and it was really good, with strong chocolate notes and red-wine intensity. Now we’ve started buying coffee cherries from cacao growers across the island. We’ve also got about 150 coffee plants on our Rabot Estate.

I’ve nearly finished my supply, but now I’m really not worried! Our long-term aim is to be part of Saint Lucia’s coffee renaissance. We’re now on a journey as coffee growers as well as cacao growers.

Centuries ago, there were seven million coffee trees in Saint Lucia. Now, there are very few. We’re going to try and help rejuvenate the coffee industry in the same way we’ve helped revive Saint Lucian cacao; sustainably and ethically, one grower at a time.”

Nature and sustainability

“People in Saint Lucia have been sustainability-minded long before it became the trend. They repurpose things in a way that people in the West are just starting to learn. It’s just the way of life here. For example, reusing old detergent bottles and jars as plant pots.

Lucians have a deep respect for Mother Nature and an affinity for plants and growing. People like nice things, but they won’t replace something just for the sake of it, whether it’s a car, computer or phone. They don’t like waste. It’s humbling and something to learn from.

Island life has made me look to nature to recharge. It’s where I get my energy from. I found New York city an exhilarating place to be but I missed green space.

Now I enjoy walking along the beach and swimming in the sea. I live on top of a mountain ridge in a rainforest, and when I step outside, I’m immersed in a wonderfully chaotic jumble of vines, trees and plants. I love walking there and appreciating all the things that grow. That’s given me a big sense of peace and calm.”

Introducing Rabot Estate coffee

Whether you’re a fan of punchy black coffee or a more mellow latte, we’re sure there will be a Rabot Estate coffee blend for you. With a choice of beans or coffee pods, you can use your favourite brewing method to conjure up barista-grade coffee in the comfort of your own home.

And, in line with our Planet Pledge, we’re committed to making our coffee packaging as sustainable as possible. That’s why we’ve launched the clever little Podcycler to ensure you can recycle our aluminium coffee capsules easily and effectively.