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Chocolate History

600 A.D.  Establishment of earliest known cocoa plantations. However, it is believed people were familiar with cocoa several centuries earlier.

1000       Cocoa beans were used as a form of payment.

1502       Columbus traveled to America and was the first European to discover the cocoa bean. The bean was being used by natives as a currency and in the preparation of a delightful drink.

Cocoa Tree

1528       The first cocoa and cocoa preparation utensils were brought back to Europe.

1615       The drinking of chocolate became a custom at French courts.

1657       London's first chocolate shop was opened by a Frenchman.

1674       Famous coffee-houses in London introduced chocolate into cakes and rolls.

1755       The cocoa bean was introduced into America.

1780       The first machine-made chocolate is produced in Barcelona.

1875       A Swiss man named Daniel Peter introduced the first milk chocolate on the market.

1879       Rodolphe Lindt of Berne produced a chocolate which melted on the tongue.

The Journey from Cocoa bean to Chocolate

Cocoa beans

The cocoa bean is the heart of the sweetest delicacy in the world - Chocolate. But who would believe that the cocoa bean is bitter!

The bean is produced by cocoa trees and these trees grow in the hottest regions of the world (e.g. West Africa). Cocoa trees can grow to a height of 50 feet, however, to simplify the harvesting process the trees are trimmed back to a height of 20 feet or so. The main bean season is May and October/November. 

The cocoa bean can vary in appearance depending on the variety. Cocoa beans have a leathery outer layer and a fleshy inside.

The cocoa bean undergoes a number of processes before the bean can be manufactured into chocolate. Once harvested the beans are fermented for 2-6 days, dried (to expel a large % of their water content), cleaned, roasted (to develop aroma), ground and finally made into cocoa butter or cocoa powder.