Thanks to years of research and close contacts with local farming communities around the world, Barry Callebaut succeeded in developing a number of revolutionary techniques which yield cocoa of unprecedented quality and consistency.

The result is a 100% natural chocolate with a harmony of pure tastes and rich aromas. Barry Callebaut aptly calls this range of chocolates ‘Terra Cacao.’

Back to the Origin

As its name suggests, everything begins for Terra Cacao at ground level with the selection of the very best terroirs in the best countries and regions of origin. Barry Callebaut seeks out the most favourable altitudes and flavour-enhancing terroirs in equatorial regions where the soil is fertile and farmers tend the trees with patience and respect. Only the very best fruits are picked by hand at precisely the right moment, ensuring optimum ripeness and a maximum of latent flavours and aromas in the bean.

A Magical Transformation

Once picked, the selected cocoa fruits are split open and the pulp containing the precious cocoa beans is removed. The pulp is then placed in wooden crates lined with banana leaves where naturally occurring micro-organisms weave their magic, creating the very first flavour precursors which have such a defining influence on the finished chocolate.

Insights yielded from years of research have been pooled together to develop a revolutionary, 100% natural method of controlling and enhancing the fermentation process to awaken the finest aromas and flavours in the bean. This method involves the addition of certain high-quality, naturally occurring ferments to ensure the right balance of micro-organisms and promote the growth of the right cultures during fermentation. The duration of the process is also carefully controlled and stopped at precisely the right moment to produce cocoa beans with an astonishing level of purity and unrivalled freshness, awakening even the most delicate and refined flavour precursors in the cocoa beans.

The fermented beans are then dried in the open air under the hot equatorial sun. Sun-drying is another critical link in the chain: it halts the fermentation process while also protecting the beans from mould or fungal growth. The process is also crucial in completing the development of the unique flavours inside the bean. Again, the equatorial regions ensure optimum conditions and the right balance between an intense sun and humid air, resulting in a final moisture content of maximum 8% without compromising the intensity and diversity of the Terra Cacao cocoa’s rich taste profile.

Because only the finest fruits are hand-picked for Terra Cacao cocoa and chocolate, the dried, fermented beans yielded by this process exhibit an unbelievable level of purity with as good as zero defects or off-flavours. This means that very little if any grading or handpicking of dried Terra Cacao beans is required.

Master Craftsmanship

The dried, fermented beans undergo mild, temperature-controlled roasting in their shells. Barry Callebaut’s expert chocolatiers’ apply the utmost precision to this critical first stage of the chocolate-making process, determining the exact duration and temperature required for the beans to release all their latent flavours and aromas.

The result is a cocoa liquor with a complex and delicate balance of flavours. It is this precious liquid that is to become the heart and soul of Terra Cacao chocolate. Because the innovative, advanced fermentation method and sun-drying process produce cocoa beans with virtually zero defects or off-flavours, the chocolate-making process can be refined in such a way as to allow the full breadth of flavors to reach expression in the final chocolate. There is no question of masking flavors or rebalancing taste profiles, and only 100% natural ingredients are used. Everything is right there in the cocoa bean.

The Finished Product

Barry Callebaut is justifiably proud of the achievement Terra Cacao represents. Years of research, experimentation, trial and error have gone into perfecting new cultivation techniques yielding vastly superior cocoa beans via 100% natural methods. Most importantly, Terra Cacao is helping to build a more sustainable future for the cocoa industry at large. By improving the overall quality and productivity of their crops, local farmers are able to earn better incomes and thus a better livelihood for themselves and their communities.

Terra Cacao has been nominated for the FIE Confectionery Innovation of the Year Award. The winner will be announced on 29 November 2011.

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