Chocolate Origins: Part 2 Currency of the Rich

Time is Money

As mentioned in part 1, the Cacao Tree can take a very long time to produce fruit. It can take 5 years for Cacao Trees to flower, months for the pods to grow, and weeks to process the beans. Harvesting the pods and refining them is also a time consuming process. After the Cacao Pods are harvested, they are broken open and left to ferment. During the fermentation process many complex chemical processes take place, and the necessary reactions happen within the Cocoa 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 domesticate the Cacao Bean. Archaeologists & Anthropologists have discovered the Aztec used Cacao Beans as a method of currency. The ancient Aztec likely used the beans to make drinks, and for smoking. The time required to harvest Cacao Beans and the strong flavor made this simple bean valued worldwide.

Cacao Beans have to be harvested by experts. Cutting down too many pods or damaging the tree could stop fruit production for years.