The Mayans used to prepare it, from at least as long ago as 600BC as a bitter frothy drink which they served, with human sacrifices, to their gods to make sure the sun rose again the next morning. They also fermented it into alcohol and used it for medicinal purposes.
It remained a drink for many years. It was imported to Spain in the 1500’s when sugar added to it at least made it taste better. And finally it was made successfully into solid chocolate in the form we know today with a breakthrough made by Rudolf Lindt in 1880 with his new ‘conching machine.’
How does Chocolate get from Bean to bar?
There are around 40 cocoa beans in each cocoa pod and you need about 10 cocoa pods to make a decent-sized bar of chocolate. The cocoa flowers and pods grow on the trunks of trees and, when ripe the pods are red, orange and even purple in colour.
The ripe pod is picked, chopped open and the beans inside scooped out before being put out into banana leaves to ferment for a few days. They are then dried in the sun and finally roasted and ground. The grinding process is called ‘conching’ using a machine that reduces the cocoa beans into a very fine liquor which solidifies into smooth glossy chocolate. The cocoa needs to be ground with sugar and, to make milk chocolate, milk powder, for at least 80 hours to make the lovely, smooth chocolate that we know and love today.