A Little of History
Chocolate is typically sweetened food produced from the seed of tropical Theobroma cacao tree. Although cacao has been cultivated by many cultures for at least three millennia in Maxico and Central America, its earliest documented use is by the Olmecs of south central Mexico around 1100 BC. In fact, the majority of Mesoamerican people made chocolate beverages, including the Mayans and Aztecs. The seed of cacao tree have an intense bitter taste and must be fermented to develop the flavour.
The cacao bean begins life inside a fruit, called a pod, on a tree in the tropics, primarily in remote areas of West Africa, Southeast Asia and Central and South America.
These delicate, flower-covered trees need much tending and, when farmed using sustainable methods, grow in harmony in tropical forests beneath other cash crops such as bananas, rubber or hardwood trees. Grown on small family farms, the beans leave cocoa farms by hand, in carts, on donkeys or rugged trucks to be sold to a local
Once in the factory, they are ground, pressed, heated and stirred to create luxurious chocolate.
The Cacao Tree
Chocolate comes from the cacao tree, which is formally known as Theobroma Cacao.
Perhaps it’s the temperament of this mother tree that gives chocolate some of its intense and exotic taste. Cacao trees flourish only in the hot, rainy tropics, in a swath 20 degrees north and south of the Equator.
Cacao trees are delicate plants that live in the understory of tropical forests and require other, taller trees to shelter them from wind and sun. These petite trees top out at 60 feet tall in the wild (although most grow only 20 to 40 feet high), shielded from wind and sun by hardwoods and other trees that stretch as high as 200 feet. See more about where cacao trees grow and how they are grown.
Pods. Courtesy of World Cocoa Foundation.The cacao tree has large glossy leaves that are roughly the size of an outstretched human hand. Young...
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