The cacao bean was regarded to hold the respect and the value that gold holds in our modern world, way before the Spaniards even set foot in the American Continent, this wondrous bean was used as the preferred form of currency for barter.  But this incredible bean with the power to improve our mood with just the aroma did not only have a presence in the economy, it was also and considered to be a sacred plant.

 

With the current state of affairs where renowned companies buy cacao by the bulk from producers in Africa and these producers are under the influence of political instability, poor working conditions and plagues, we are at the brink of transforming not only the way cacao is produced but also how it is enjoyed and perceived.

 

The demand for chocolate, just like coffee shows no signs of dwindling and in the process of searching for a way to produce chocolate in a more sustainable and way, luxury chocolatiers and chocolate companies worldwide have turned their eyes to find an answer where it all started actually started .. the lands which Christopher Columbus called the New Indies.

 

The latin name for cocoa,Theobroma can give us a hint of the value of this priced crop, it means “food of the gods”. Early records show that Mayans used cocoa in rituals related to marriage ceremonies, thus the intricate link between chocolate with love, romance and sensuality was already established centuries before scientists could confirm the chemical effects that chocolate produces in our bodies. Chocolate stimulates oxytocin (also known as the Love Hormone) in the body, thus resulting in a sense of satisfaction and wellbeing.

 

After the Spaniards set foot in the New World, they fiercely maintained the source and production  secret, this delicious drink became one of the most coveted drinks in Europe.  After a century the Spaniards lost the monopoly  of cocoa in Europe.  The delicious drink gained popularity in France and chocolate houses became widespread.  By the 18th century most European countries were producing delicacies with cocoa.  With the introduction of the steam engine and the industrial revolution the mechanical process of toasting and grinding cocoa beans made chocolate an affordable luxury for all.

 

Cocoa is native of the Americas and there are still samples of wild cocoa in the foothill of the Andes in the Amazon.  Since cacao trees can only grow in a limited geographical zone, about 20°  degrees north and south of the Equator, cacao farming was introduced to West Africa where nearly 70% of the world’s cacao crop is harvested today.