Cocoa: Unwrapping The Rich History Of The World's Favourite Bean
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The cacao tree produces the fruit known as cocoa. "Theobroma Cacao" is its scientific name; the Greek word for "food of the gods" There were other names for cocoa, but this is how we know it now. The process of processing this seed to produce various products, including cocoa butter and the so-called cocoa solids used to make chocolate, starts after it is allowed to ferment and dry.

Nowadays, cocoa is grown all over the world; harvests are typically found in South America, Asia, West Africa, and Central America. Additionally, there are many varieties of cocoa in each of them. Thus you may savour the many tastes and qualities of cocoa.

The Origins Of Cocoa

According to historians, the Olmecs initially noticed that the cocoa fruit was edible after witnessing rats consuming it. Undoubtedly, the Olmecs (1500–400 BC) were the first humans to eat chocolate, at first as a beverage. After crushing the cocoa beans, they combined them with water and added herbs, spices, and peppers. In equatorial Mexico, they first began to cultivate cocoa. Effective cocoa-growing techniques were also established throughout time by the Mayans (600 BC) and Aztecs (400 AD). The cocoa bean served as both a measuring and monetary unit, with 400 beans equal to one XIQUIPILLI and 8000 to one Zontli.

Cocoa beans were the preferred means of tax collection for the Chemieken people in the areas they conquered during their battles with the Aztecs and the Mayans. These cultures saw chocolate as a sign of prosperity. It was offered at a noble ritual and used in religious rites honouring the patron saint of cocoa, Chak Ek Chuah, and Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent, the Aztec god credited with delivering cocoa to humanity.

Although the Meso-American region has seen an increase in the production of cocoa, the drink's exclusivity to the higher classes and troops during combat persisted. The benefits of cocoa, which were energising and strengthening, were becoming more and more accepted at that point.

When Christopher Columbus stopped in Nicaragua in 1502, on his fourth voyage, he saw cocoa beans for the first time aboard a local boat, but he was unimpressed by its remarkable potential. It was not until Hernando Cortez drank it with the Aztec monarch Montezuma and returned it to the Spanish court in 1528—along with the stirrer—that the true significance of this "brown gold" was recognised. Even yet, it is unlikely that anyone gave it much thought as a worldwide good.

Cocoa Expansion

In the seventeenth century, cocoa started to reach other European ports and quickly took over the palaces of all the continents. The French Court initially began serving chocolate beverages in 1615, following King Louis XIII's marriage to Spanish princess Anne of Austria.

The introduction of China tea and Middle Eastern coffee to England in 1650 also marked the debut of chocolate beverages. The first chocolate factory/confiserie opened its doors in Paris in 1659. Italian chocolatiers were rewarded for the excellence of their goods in 1720 with awards. North America finally learned about the benefits of cocoa in 1765.

Chocolate has grown in this fashion throughout Europe and the rest of the world, and its presentation has gradually altered. The chocolate pastille was first introduced in England in 1674. The Dutch were the first to produce cocoa powder in 1828. The chocolate tablet was first introduced in Great Britain in 1830. The Swiss were the first to successfully enter the chocolate market in 1830 with milk chocolate, and shortly after that, they came up with chocolate that was infused with hazelnuts.