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Chocolate Origins Part 2: Currency of the Rich

Time is Money

Harvesting the cacao pods and refining them is a time-consuming process. The cacao pods are harvested, split open, spread out and left to ferment. Many complex chemical processes take place during the fermentation process, and the necessary reactions happen within the cacao bean to produce the iconic chocolate flavor. Then the beans are left to dry out. Once the beans are dry they are ready for processing.

Cocoa beans in the drying stage

Ancient Aztecs were likely one of the first civilizations to use the cacao bean for several different reasons. Archaeologists & Anthropologists have discovered the Aztec used cacao beans as a currency. The ancient Aztec also used the beans to make drinks, and for smoking. The time required to harvest cacao and the unique flavour of cacao made this simple bean the key currency in the ancient world.

40% of cacao harvested is through child-slavery. The endless work in cutting the cacao pods at just the right point is done with machetes wielded by children, often just taller than the machete!