This is a story of a person, who is obsessed with Chocolates. Our Chocolate man, Claudio Corollo, is an Italian and was born in Florence, Italy. He took his basic training from an agricultural institution in Florence and later joined in 1974, an aid agency in Congo, Africa, run by an International aid institution. This work enabled him to tour the country exhaustively and learned about living or surviving in equatorial rain forests. Caudio soon realized the basic contradictions faced by such International aid agencies, working in developing but autocratic countries of Africa and decided to leave his job. He then joined another company involved in growing and processing of coffee beans as a chief and learned the tricks of the trade. Claudio however, was not happy with the job and became aware that his first love was always the Jungles of Africa and would any day prefer to stay there. He resigned from this job also and decided in 1979 to buy his own coffee plantation.
During this period, he happened to visit Lisbon, the capitol city of Portugal. During his stay in the city, he went to visit there, the Naval museum of the Portuguese Navy. In this museum, Claudio came to know about a minor historic fact. Chocolates that we all eat, are basically made from the roasted beans of a tree known as Cacao tree. This tree is originally from Brazil in south America. Since Brazil was a Portuguese colony, Portuguese cultivators had developed huge Cacao plantations, prior to year 1800, in that country. An year before Brazil had declared independence (1822), Portuguese navy had moved large number of Cacao trees of original Brazil species to a small island called ‘Sao Tome’ in south Atlantic ocean. ‘Sao Tome’ island is located directly west of the country known as ‘Equatorial Guinea’. With these trees brought from Brazil, Portuguese planters were able to develop Cacao plantations on that island.
Claudio was of the opinion that the present day Cacao trees are all genetically modified to give maximum crop output and built in disease resistance, by hybrid plant production techniques. He felt that even though the modified tree has all these plus points, it happenes only at the loss of original cacao aroma and taste. Claudio then and there only decided, to hunt for the original specie Cacao tree, which Portuguese navy had imported from Brazil in 1821 on Sao Tome island.
He then bought a coffee plantation on Sao Tome island and using his previous experience, started coffee production. During his spare time, he kept on pursuing his ambition of looking for the original Cacao tree. In spite of his great efforts, he had no success as almost all Cacao trees on this island were hybrid trees.
80 miles south of Sao Tome island, there is another small island known as ‘Principe’. Claudio visited on this island a Cacao farm, called Terreiro Velho, located on a hill slope. This farm had not been exploited for Cacao production for at least hundred or hundred and fifty years and looked like a jungle to Claudio. In the midst of the jungle, which now existed on this farm, Claudio found a Cacao tree, belonging to original Brazilian specie, Which has a Botanical name of ‘Forastero Amelonado’.
Claudio, extremely delighted with his discovery, straight way brought the farm on Principe island and after meticulously cleaning the jungle existing there, started cultivating the original Cacao plantation in a systematic fashion.
After few years, when Claudio received first crop of original Cacao beans from his form, he started his efforts to produce world’s purest and best chocolates. Claudio says that present day commercially produced chocolates, all smell of Milk and Vanilla essence. According to him, pure chocolate has kind of flowery and woody smell and it dissolves in your mouth without a trace leaving behind only the real fragrance of the chocolate.
Roasted Cacao seeds
To achieve this, Claudio has fixed his production process carefully after giving considerable thought to it. The Cacao beans are roasted in his Principe farm only before these are sent to his factory on Sao Tome island. Here in the factory these are carefully inspected and only good beans are selected, before grinding these to a fine powder. The powder is made into a paste by hand stirring only. According to Claudio, mechanized stirring of Chocolate paste spoils the taste.
Claudio’s chocolate factory employees 13 people and the Chocolates are exported to Portugal, Italy, Germany, Spain, Japan and US.
Every evening, after the factory is closed, Claudio welcomes factory guests, who visit his chocolate factory from distant places just to taste his Chocolates.
After reading and knowing about Claudio’s Chocolates, next time I think of buying some chocolates, I am going to remember Claudio and his untiring efforts and search to find world’s purest and best Chocolate.