With sorrow we report that the premium chocolate world suffered 2 deaths.
J. Sandy Hepler
The great Sandyno has passed on. J. Sandy Hepler was more than a cacao hunter — he was a pioneering spirit & revolutionary who hurled many off the edge of cacáo & into full-on chocolate romance.
The peripatetic Hepler trekked thru the backwoods of Nicaragua for heirloom cacáo bounty. A field-type kind of guy driven by practical curiosity to find the best-tasting cacáo. He let the “chocolate angels” guide him along the trails. When he made a find he’d camp out close-by & experiment with custom fermentation… very old school… flavor straight from the source.
He’d talk to everyone: start ethical micro-enterprises woven into cooperative structures based on community empowerment & ecological restoration. Chocolate lends itself to such small-scale ventures, emboldening farm families to take ownership of the fruits of their labor, & build up to value-added goods.
With proceeds earned from sales, Hepler & his partners injected capital back into the co-ops to bring appropriate technology to townships for improved permaculture & eco-village design. In their wake composting stations, manufacturing equipment, nurseries, school nutrition, & smiles blossomed bright as Spring flowers.
All to build a better world.
An excellent carpenter but you wouldn’t know it by looking at his house. He never had much money & what he did have he selflessly donated to others, like the elementary school constructed that he named Little Sparrows.
Unfailingly supportive, Sandy once said of the C-spot that we “nailed it”. What he could’ve just as easily said is that he nailed it for us, since we were under his wing for a good part of our journey. He informed much of our site, especially the Nicaraguan section. He taught us a critical overarching principle, viz., the distinction between official science & informal reality. Though the twain meet & partially overlap, science can never hope to capture the totality of nature’s bounty. Attempts to over-rationalize boil down to reductio ad absurdum.
“Try & penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature & you will find that, behind all the discernible concatenations, there remains something subtle, intangible & inexplicable.” — Einstein
Some creatives go thru life on one name. In the world of premium chocolate everyone knew “Mott” referred to the anchor of cacáo from Grenada Chocolate Company. Friend-of-the-Earth Mott Green was widely eulogized, including by the Grenadian Prime Minister, at his funeral in NYC.
Uncompromising in his standards, Mott embodied “chocolate energy” from his first commercial bar
that found its way to the shelves of Life Thyme health food store in Greenwich Village. Even at 60%, hardly a superpower percentage, it was the little bean that could… & did power up the Grenada Chocolate Company — one of the early vertical-integration models among the micro-processors of premium chocolate — & its family of 50 islanders who toiled alongside him. The label is a testament to what they envisioned: a grassroots movement on the up & up without the skullduggery & stealth that mars so many businesses. Well beyond fairtrade, organic & the raft of certifying regimes, it was home-ground chocolate at its fullest.Once at a professional trade show Mott dared to describe C-spot reviews
as the “poetry of chocolate”. He overstated the case, & humbled us, because he himself lived it, & illuminated that chocolate is a prism thru which to grasp the world.
The day before his death we were IMing with him regarding a joint project. True to his word, on the morning of it, Mott Green delivered to us yet one more noble act. In the coming months we’ll tell you all about it.
Gone are 2 powerful forces for good in an industry that needs them. Few people can say that they made the world a better place. J Sandy Hepler & Mott Green didn’t have to say it — they just did it. Raise a bar in a toast to both.
With gratitude for their guiding lights,the C-spot