Terra Cacao®
is my greatest achievement
This journal is my story of how we have joined
forces with nature to come to unique cocoa.
The cocoa that is the heart and soul of
our new range of unique chocolates.
Join me on a journey to where my story begins.
Join me on a journey to Terra Cacao®.

Dr. ir. Nicholas Camu
Innovation Manager
Barry Callebaut
Day 1
In the heart
of the tropical rainforest
coordinates N5 03.991, W6 28.299
In only a few places around the equator,
where the soil is fertile, the climate just right and the land cultivated with respect, nature brings forth extraordinary cocoa. I am privileged to find myself on one of those
special terroirs today. Here for instance,
in one of the most fertile areas in Ivory Coast, the premium species of cocoa trees thrive in the shade provided by the canopy of the tropical forest.
The trees bloom in two cycles of six months the whole year round. Thousands of white and pink flowers adorn the stem and branches in clusters - a beautiful, inspiring sight. And to think that over the next six months only a select few will develop into full-grown cocoa pods... Creating my dream-chocolate will take a lot of patience.
Day 21

Spreading the word of quality cocoa
Today, I had an appointment with Solange N'Guessan, Director of the Union des Coop�ratives Agricoles de San Pedro (UCAS)
in Ivory Coast. About 20 cocoa farmer cooperatives belong to the UCAS union. I was welcomed warmly and had a great experience. I gave her a presentation on how our revolutionary cocoa cultivation method can lift up the quality of the cocoa to unseen heights. Although it's sometimes hard to change the old ways of a people that have been cultivating cocoa for many generations, she listened with genuine interest.
After all, the productivity of many cocoa farms here in West Africa has been steadily declining, and our new project can really turn things around for the better. What's more, better quality also means better prices, and the promise of higher incomes is very appealing. She invited me to come back in a couple of days and give a first training to a few of the local cocoa farmers.
Day 83

Attention, please! Class is in session
The trainings are getting more and more popular among the farmers. We give them practical information on how to improve their farms, increase yields and grow healthier crops. And it's really paying off: an increasing number of farmers now devotedly nurse their trees: pure, natural, with respect for the delicate eco-balance... and with a heart for superior quality. What a few days of training can do. The cocoa trees are more productive than ever, reflecting the best of nature. After all, you can only come to the best chocolate with the best beans. And you can only produce the best beans by giving the trees and the soil the best possible care. Now, the small pods are still green, but they will soon start turning a yellowy orange. I can't wait.
Day 179
Time to handpick
only the best ripe fruits
The long wait is finally over! Over the past six months, the pollinated cocoa flowers have had all the time to grow into large, colorful pods. The ripe fruits can be left on the tree for 2 to 3 weeks without spoiling. But to ensure the finest flavor, it's crucial that we pick them at precisely the right moment, when the cocoa beans contain a maximum of flavors and aromas. As we approach the plantation, the excitement among the cocoa farmers is almost palpable. This is what they have been working towards for so long. With great care, not damaging the branches, they handpick only the best ripe fruits and gather them at the edge of the field. There, the fruits are left to ripen further for a few days before revealing the glorious beans they hide inside.
Day 181
The magic really
begins during fermentation
With very precise cutting movement, the farmers open the pods without touching the beans. The beans are removed with the pulp and heaped up in small piles for fermentation. This is a natural, yet very critical process necessary to awaken the aromatic potential in the cocoa beans. Years of research have yielded revolutionary insights: a few specific ferments - micro-organisms naturally present in the soil, on plants, even in the air - positively influence the fermentation. We succeeded in isolating them, and now use them to create natural cultures. By mixing in a balanced ferment culture with the fresh beans and carefully timing the duration of the fermentation, we can influence the fermentation process in a completely natural way - much like what a Cellar Master does when he's making wine. While specific ferments oxidize the polyphenols to reduce the astringent flavor and change the color of the cocoa, enzymes break down the proteins into free amino acids. This unlocks the delicate and desired flavors and aromas in the beans in a 100% natural way.
Day 183

Nature takes its course
The fermentation is halfway. To make sure that the beans ferment evenly, the farmers turn them by hand, giving fresh oxygen to the living ferments. It's surprising how much heat is generated by the fermentation: inside the pile of beans, the temperature can amount to 37°C after two days, and to even as much as 50°C at the end of the process. Even though the beans only started fermenting as little as 48 hours ago, the effect of our unique method is already noticeable. Compared to standard fermented cocoa beans, these Terra Cacao® beans seduce with their surprisingly gentle smell: fresh, fruity and aromatic. But to complete this masterpiece, more time is needed. We cover them up with banana leaves once more and patiently let nature work its magic again for a few more days. Once again, timing is crucial; if the beans are left to ferment too long, or pulled from the pulp too quickly, the most delicate flavors will not be evoked. Tonight, the sheer excitement will make it hard to get to sleep.

Day 185

Reaping the rewards of innovation
The fermentation process is now complete. I am thrilled! The white pulp that naturally stuck to the beans is entirely gone, and the beans themselves have changed color from beige to brown. Compared to standard fermented beans, Terra Cacao® beans ferment very homogeneously. But most importantly of all, they now hold the wonderfully refined flavor precursors that will give Terra Cacao® chocolate its distinguished character. Just like with premium wine making, our special fermentation method also positively influences the fermentation quality, meaning that the number of badly fermented or defect beans is drastically reduced, sometimes even to 0%. The aromas that rise up from the warm beans are rich and unlike anything I've experienced before. This is what I would almost dare to call sensory perfection.
Day 186

After Mother Nature, Father Sun
Although optimal fermentation may well be the most crucial step to bring out the most delicious flavors and aromas in the beans, drying is also way up there in the list. It is essential, both for stopping the fermentation process and for storage. And only optimal drying can make sure that the flavor precursors all remain inside the beans. The best drying method is to spread out the beans on bamboo mats and let them bask in the sun's warming rays. The beans are turned regularly so that they dry evenly and retain just a fraction of their moisture content: 6 to 8% is ideal. Also here, timing is key. If the beans dry too quickly, some of the enzymatic reactions started in the fermentation process are not allowed to finish and the beans taste acidic or bitter. If the drying happens too slowly, mold and off-flavors may develop. I know it's a bit silly, but I don't want to let the beans go out of my sight.
Day 189

Rain is coming
The beans have now been drying for a good five days. As I make my way from my lodge to the collection centre, I see dark clouds gathering along the horizon. Rain is coming. Upon my arrival, I see everybody is already joining forces to bring in the cocoa and keep it clear from the approaching showers. Just as the last bags of cocoa are safely stored inside, the first drops hit the powdery soil. When it rains here, the heavens truly open up. Fortunately, the clouds are gone as fast as they have come. Only an hour later, the sun is back to dry the land... and my precious cocoa.
Day 192
Unrivaled purity makes
handpicking the beans unnecessary
Regular cocoa - that has been spontaneously fermented - traditionally needs to be handpicked to remove impurities and beans with defects. But as we only select the best crops for Terra Cacao®, pick the fruits by hand and naturally optimize the fermentation process, these beans are unbelievably pure, with as good as zero defects and zero off-flavors. This makes handpicking the dried Terra Cacao® beans unnecessary. Rigid quality controls are the ultimate proof of the unique properties of Terra Cacao® cocoa. From every bag of beans, a sample of 100 beans is cut open. It's the only way to truly check their quality. Even with top grade cocoa, there nearly always are a few low-grade beans in each sample. But with Terra Cacao® that is a rarity; almost every sample gets a perfect score. This directly benefits the farmers: as they are certain of producing undisputable quality beans without losing any crops, they also have the assurance of a higher and steadier income.
Day 205

Going home
I'm ready to return home. But not without my cocoa. Over the past few days, thousands of sacks containing our Terra Cacao® cocoa have been taken from the collection center to huge warehouses, their origins all registered. After they are packed in containers, they are sent off to the port from where they will be shipped to the Barry Callebaut plant in Belgium. There, they will be allowed to rest for a minimum of three months, so all their wonderful flavors and aromas can get the time they need to develop further. Once again, my patience is put to the test, but it comforts me to know that soon these beans will be ready to become the heart and soul of the purest chocolate ever created.
Day 326
In the loving hands
of the master roaster
Finally, the day has come when the Terra Cacao® beans begin their transformation into the purest of chocolates. Barry Callebaut is one of the few chocolate makers who still roast the beans themselves, with the utmost precision and chocolatier's expertise. We roast the beans in their entire shells, because this prevents the flavorful aromatic oils from evaporating. Because Terra Cacao® beans are roasted to bring out the best flavors possible, the final phases of the roast are crucially important. Cocoa beans continue to develop their flavors and aromas until they are cooled. That's why they must be removed from the roasters before they are at their peak. Determining this exact point takes a high degree of skill. But Callebaut's roasters master this process like no other. I know my Terra Cacao® beans are in good hands.
Day 329
The purest cocoa turns into
the purest chocolate
This is the moment I've been waiting for. All ingredients for my Terra Cacao® chocolate are first weighed very precisely, blended into homogenous chocolate dough, and pressed between rollers to form a fine powder. This powder is kneaded for hours in conches until the aromas have fully developed, a process optimized to bring out even the most delicate flavors. Finally, cocoa butter is added to make the chocolate liquid. All that is left to do then is to temper the chocolate so it can eventually harden. Here before me now lies the combination of the best of nature with the best of Barry Callebaut's master craftsmanship: a range of chocolates with an exquisite, astonishingly powerful taste. Thanks to their unrivaled purity, Terra Cacao® chocolates with only 50 % cocoa often taste even more intense than regular 70% chocolates. As of this day, perfection has a name. We call it Terra Cacao®.