Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy helps chocolatiers learn and grow

It is impossible to delve into the world of fine chocolate in Montreal without understanding the importance of Barry Callebaut.

callebaut-chocolate-academy-montreal

At each Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy, chocolate artistry is taught alongside the importance of sustainability in the world of chocolate and cacao.

The Barry Callebaut Group (BCG) was founded in 1996 with the merger of the Belgian chocolate company Callebaut–which was founded in 1911–and the French chocolate and cocoa company Cacao Barry, founded in 1842. This merger created what is now the Zurich-based Barry Callebaut Group–the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products.

Note that The Barry Callebaut Group is not to be confused with Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut, which was founded by Bernard Callebaut, a member of the Callebaut family of Belgium who immigrated to Canada in 1982 to start his own chocolate company. Bernard Callebaut, the man, is no longer affiliated with Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut, the company that bears his name and has 28 locations in Canada and the US. In 2011, Bernard Callebaut started up a new independent company called Papa Chocolat Inc. based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. That company declared bankruptcy in 2015 and Bernard Callebaut is now apparently involved with a company called Master Chocolat. (It is a long and complicated story, but I just wanted to be sure and clarify the basics for the benefit of those like me who were confused by the various Callebaut entities.)

The Barry Callebaut Group focuses jointly on innovation, education, and sustainability in the world of chocolate and cacao

In this post, we are focused on the Barry Callebaut Group, with 53 factories worldwide that process 1.8 million tonnes of chocolate couverture for chocolatiers, pastry chefs, hotels, restaurants, and catering companies around the world. So without knowing it, you have almost certainly eaten a chocolate bar, creation, or dessert made from the BCG’s extensive product line that includes the Cacao Barry, Callebaut, Mona Lisa, and Van Leer brands.

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The kitchen at the Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy in Montreal is where many Canadian chocolatiers learn about chocolate.

But the BCG is not just about producing good quality chocolate. The conglomerate has invested millions of dollars to educate chocolate professionals who use their products, and has taught more than 115,000 cocoa farmers around the world how to grow and process their cocoa beans in order to achieve the finest quality possible. By increasing the quality, the farmers are able to charge more for their beans, and ultimately improve the standard of living for their families. These are the components necessary in creating sustainable chocolate. The Barry Callebaut Group is committed to making sustainable chocolate the global norm by 2025 and has confirmed that the BCG product line is currently at about 35% sustainable, with that percentage increasing each year.

In September, 2017, the BCG introduced a fourth type of cocoa–Ruby Chocolate–a pink-toned chocolate created through a special processing of Ruby cocoa beans. I have yet to try it, but there has been a considerable amount of media announcing it.

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In the old days, couverture (the small disks you see in the bowls) just came in dark, milk, or white chocolate. Today’s chocolatiers have an extensive number of choices to help them achieve the precise flavour they are seeking for their chocolate creations, as you can see here with two white (blanc) chocolate couvertures, one at 29% cacao and the other at 34%, each with its own distinct flavour profile.

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We enjoyed tasting all the different types of Cacao Barry couverture that chocolatiers can use to make their own unique chocolate creations.

Montreal is home to Canada’s only Callebaut Chocolate Academy

Montreal is the only city in Canada that is home to one of 20 international locations of the Barry Callebaut Academie du Chocolat. Chicago is home to the only Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy Center in the US.

A Barry Callebaut production facility is located in St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, 60 kilometres east of Montreal. With about 500 people on staff just at this location, it is considered one of the largest chocolate factories in the world. There is also a Barry Callebaut production facility in Chatham, Ontario, Canada, and two in the US–one in American Canyon, California, and one in Chicago, Illinois, along with a new warehouse in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to handle distribution to the American East Coast.

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The Or Noir custom couverture packaged under the Cacao Barry brand is a unique offering from the Barry Callebaut Group.

What impresses me most about the Barry Callebaut Group is that they have found a way to bring chocolatiers one step closer to the bean-to-bar experience. Produced under the Cacao Barry brand, BCG’s new custom initiative for chocolate professionals called Or Noir (meaning Black Gold) enables chocolatiers to work with the company’s chocolate lab in Paris to blend an absolutely unique blend of origins to create a signature chocolate that the chocolatier will use to create his/her own (almost) bean-to-bar chocolate bar. I talked about this in the post about Adorable Chocolat of Shediac, New Brunswick, who launched their signature Scorpion Bar in February, 2017, with the help of the Cacao Barry team of taste experts.

So when you hear the word ‘Callebaut’ associated in the world of chocolate, listen carefully, as it can mean a host of different things to different people. But what it does mean without a doubt, is great tasting chocolate with an increasing consciousness towards innovation and sustainability.

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Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

49 Responses

  1. Jeri
    Twitter:
    says:

    That’s wonderful to hear the Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy teachers cocoa farmers to grow the best bean possible as such an investment is good for both sides 🙂

  2. Donna Janke
    Twitter:
    says:

    It’s great that Barry Callebaut Group is teaching how to grow and how to make chocolate and working with chocolatiers to create their own signature brands. I’m glad you explain the connection or lack thereof with Bernard Callebaut, beause that was my first question when I saw the name.

  3. Linda
    Twitter:
    says:

    That long Bernard Callebaut story sounds worthy of another post! I’m unfamiliar with the term couverture, could you explain that a bit? This was a fascinating post.

  4. TammyJo Eckhart
    Twitter:
    says:

    Very cool. I see more fine chocolatiers are doing this sort of education around the USA and Canada. I just wonder how much outreach it really is when there are fees for taking the classes and generally transportation is required. I wish there was an easier way to educate the mass of people who buy most of the candy and “chocolate” because I think only then will any serious change to the industry happen.

  5. I have learned SO much from you Doreen! I never had any clue that there was so much more to chocolate than the candy bars I see in the store at check-out! Thank you for opening my eyes to this amazing tradition and craft.

  6. Linda Strange says:

    A wonderfully complex article; ranging from the ethics of sustainability to the cut-throat world of business. Thanks for sorting out the Callebaut. names involved in this refined and tasty world of good chocolate.

  7. Carol Colborn
    Twitter:
    says:

    I want to try ruby chocolate and will surely visit Papa Chocolat in Calgary where my daughter lives!

  8. Phoenicia
    Twitter:
    says:

    The more I read your blog posts, the more I feel the need to eat chocolate!

    It is interesting to know some companies continue to work with a good ethic.

    I must get myself to a chocolate factory one of these days.

  9. Vicki
    Twitter:
    says:

    So much to know about chocolate! Who knew?

  10. So much to learn about chocolate! Love how in depth you are with the info… I didn;t realize there was a site in Chatham… will have to visit – not far from me!

  11. Brenda
    Twitter:
    says:

    Mmmm…. Chocolate. Gota love it! Im a huge fan of Melt Chocolates in London if you of know it. Thanks Telephone Systems for Business

  12. Chocolate seems to be such a great interesting topic and history. Barry Callebaut introducing a new chocolate type, must be to the Chocolate Aficionado community like when Dylan went electric.

  13. I’m learning so much about chocolate from reading your posts! I’ll never see it as “just a chocolate bar” again…

  14. Another fun and educational post. I also enjoy reading the comments–I too, wondered what couverture meant. I’ve never heard of this chocolate maker, but again am struck by the efforts to make sustainable growing and enhance the lives of the small farmers. I mean, doesn’t that totally justify chocolate for breakfast?

  15. Sue Reddel
    Twitter:
    says:

    I love reading your stories, Doreen. I learn so much more about chocolate every single time. I’d love to try the new ruby chocolate from Callebaut, sounds delicious!

  16. The Barry Callebaut Group in Montreal sounds like a great operation, and delicious to boot.
    I love that they focus on sustainability and are involved in teaching too. The best of all worlds!

  17. Jackie Smith
    Twitter:
    says:

    Oh, I loved the concept of ruby chocolate! Can you imagine serving a selection of dark, light, white and ruby chocolate to guests?!!?

  18. I buy Callebaut couverture at a wholesale store here in the Netherlands to use as chips in chocolate chip cookies! They come in 5 kg bags, so it lasts a while. Lately they’ve started stocking a range of them with differing amounts of cocoa. They’re so good, sometimes I take a small handful just for feeding a craving!

  19. Erica says:

    BCG chocolate really seems huge and like it has a global impact. I especially like that they help farmers who make chocolate learn to make a profit. I know so many farmers in the world struggle. I’ll try to be more mindful of the Callebaut name next time I’m thinking of getting a chocolate bar.

    • Hi Erica and thanks for your comment. You likely won’t see the name Callebaut on a chocolate bar label. As I explain in the post, the BCG primarily provides couverture to chocolatiers and others who make products of chocolate for public consumption. So their name is widely known in the chocolate industry, but lesser known among consumers. It is indeed wonderful that they are attempting to train cocoa growing farmers how to grow and process the cocoa beans so that they get a better grade product and higher fee for their efforts.

  20. Love the chocolate knowledge you are disseminating to the world. Pretty yummy passion you have there.

  21. So cool about the Barry Callebaut’s focus on sustainability. As much as I’d like to think I could be a chocolatier with their training and guidance, I think I’ll leave that to those with the real talents for chocolate-making.

  22. I always learn something new about chocolate when I visit, and love the fact that you have developed such a strong niche. Barry Callebaut’s focus on sustainability is admirable, the more bean to bar the better!

  23. Mehedi Hasan
    Twitter:
    says:

    I have learned SO much from you Doreen! I never had any clue that there was so much difference between good chocolate and the candy bars I see in at the grocery check-out! Thank you for activating my eyes to this amazing tradition and craft.

  24. BGC chocolate’s story seems very inspiring. Working on chocolate market and forecasting the future has always been fun. But, doing it while we have a thorough understanding about it makes it very interesting. Thank You Doreen, for such an informative article.

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