A king of chocolate and a cacao anarchist in one person!
THE MAN WHO LOST HIS SHADOW BUT FOUND HIS SOUL
"Heart of Darkness" is a novel by English writer Joseph Conrad of a trip deep into the African jungle. The story is about Marlow, an introverted sailor, and his journey up the Congo River to meet Kurtz, reputed to be an idealistic man of great abilities.
There seems to be a strong parallel here with agricultural engineer and adventurer Claudio Corallo, an idealistic man of passion, a master of tropical agronomy and a lover of nature, who in 1974 left Europe to go live in Congo, then Zaire.
Florentine by birth, he's been known as the king of the African rainforest due to his ventures into the depths of Congo River planting coffee, and now his cultivation of cacao in São Tomé & Principe. His chocolate isn’t just special. It’s borderline-mythical, the stuff of legends and fireside tales. The man himself is an enigma. His island compound - a secret fortress of ideas, creativity and alchemy.
The gift of this chocolate lies as much in its flavour as it does in the fable of its creation; a tale of distant lands, a mysterious foreigner and an almost-impossible masterplan. Claudio Corallo’s chocolate isn’t just special, it’s the greatest chocolate ever made.
Here then, we see Corallo traveling the same rivers described in Conrad's book. In modern terms, a Marlow searching for similar physical and spiritual ideals.
ORGANIC, SUSTAINABLE + BIODYNAMIC FARMING
Claudio Corallo is the only one in the world who grows his own cacao beans, produces chocolate on the same site and lives among his cacao trees on the islands of São Tomé & Principe, about 200km from mainland West Africa.
The Terreiro Vehlo estate on the island of Principe was discovered by his wife Bettina in 1992. An abandoned plantation with some of the original heirloom cacao plants, brought over from Brazil in the 1800s.
"Scattered in the forest in Terreiro Vehlo area of Principe at last I found the cacao plants I'd been searching for" Claudio said. "They were for years abandoned and tended only by the monkeys, who greedy for the sugary pulp that grows around the seeds - they would suck the sugary pulp then spit them on the ground - had created entire nurseries and a perfect germinated floor, thanks to the empty cacao pods on which they were feasting."
And this is where Corallo moved to: among the monkeys, growing cacao trees!