Our cacao trees are descendants from the first cacao plants to arrive in Africa in 1819.
Until the 1800's cacao was only produced in Latin America. In the early years of the 1800's Portugal realized that it would soon loose Brasil as a colony. King Dom Joao VI wanted to save the income Portugal derived from the cacao and decreed that the famous cacao plants of the Bahia region would be transported to its most serene colony, Sao Tome and Principe.
In 1819, the first trees arrived on the island of Principe. By 1900 Sao Tome and Principe was the world's biggest cacao producer. However, more recently the old varieties of trees were replaced by more productive modern hybrids. Luckily, tiny Principe was overlooked and forgotten.
The descendants of these first trees are now the mainstay of the cacao production on the Terreiro Velho plantation. When we first came to the plantation of Terreiro Velho, the cacao plants were dispersed in the invading forest. Through years of hard work, the rainforest ground was cleared and the shade trees were replanted. By giving the cacao plants air and just the right amount of light they gained new vigor, producing healthy and abundant fruit. The perfume of their pulp was intense and fresh, as if thanking us for their refound live.
With absolute care the trees are tended in order to produce the best quality beans possible.
Corallo is a perfectionist, a man obsessed with taste and result. DER SPIGEL, DE 2008
Claudio's coffee and cacao are produced on the tiny volcanic islands of São Tomé and Principe, the second smallest country in Africa.
© Inês Gonçalves
Claudio Corallo prunning a cacao tree in Terreiro Velho, Príncipe Island. An absolute perfectionist, he wanted to get to the essence of the taste of the cacao.
Discovering terroir in the world of chocolate
The company that best approximates the role of vigneron is Claudio Corallo, a family-owned, plant-tobar producer on the two-islad country of São Tomé and Príncipe off the coast of West Africa. The excitement and energy such small-scale, artisanal producers bring to the chocolate industry will likely showcase terroir even more. Bill Nesto, GASTRONOMICA, USA 2010
© Inês Gonçalves
For Claudio, working in a sustainable manner is the basis of his philosophy. There is no alternative for creating great products. Through his chocolates you finally know how chocolate really has to taste.
AIR is the word that we get more used to hear Claudio say in the plantation.
The breeze of the oceanic air must circulate in complete freedom, even in the most hidden parts and so cleanse and purify the trees.
The cocoa woods were another thing. They were like the woods of fairy tales, dark shadowed and cool. The cocoa-pods, hanging by thick short stems, were like wax fruit in brilliant green and yellow and red crimson and purple. V.S. Naipul
Every step of the process is scrupulously controlled. This way Claudio transforms the cacao beans into the purest form of chocolate.
© Peter Ribton
Through years of testing we developed a natural fermentation process by which the cacao does not lose its perfume.
The purest form of our chocolate is the bean. The taste is definitely not bitter.