Italian Claudio Corallo, a cocoa producer in Sao Tome, is fast gaining recognition as a top chocolate manufacturer as well.
Corallo, a trained agronomist, carefully regulates his production process. This includes the handling of the cocoa beans from tree till they become bars of chocolate.
A key part of his production process is the unique fermentation of the beans, an art he has perfected after years of experimentation. The exact period of fermentation remains a trade secret.
This is followed by the selection, cleaning and roasting of the beans. The shelling of the beans, which major chocolate producers do with the aid of machines is done by hand at Corallo’s firm.
“The ladies here manually peel the cocoa by hand. It is something I consider to be unique probably in the world,” he said.
This process stems from Corallo’s believe that the production process should be in harmony with the environment.
Running a small production on the island, miles away from competition and major chocolate manufacturers around the world, Claudio does not compromise on product quality.
“We sort out our cocoa beans by hand because it is a very small production of really high quality and we want the base of our chocolate to be perfectly clean” he explained.
The 64-year-old Italian who now lives in Sao Tome and Principe moved to the Democratic Republic of Congo at the age of 23. Having studied tropical agronomy after school, he worked as an agricultural researcher for the Congolese government.
He bought a coffee plantation a few years later in the center of the country and through trial and error expanded his plantation till he was exporting 800 tons of the finest quality coffee annually.
He however fled the DRC when the war broke and moved to Sao Tome in 1997 taking on cocoa farming and subsequently the production of chocolate.
Claudio Corallo’s chocolate seems at odds with the plain and simple packaging. But this is just another facet of Corallo’s ethic – packaging shouldn’t be wasteful or distracting, because what’s important is inside, said the cocoarunners website.