Chocolate, botanical name Theobroma cacao, grows in the equatorial regions of our world. For cacao to grow well it must be planted in tropical environment with high temperature, rainfall and humidity. Notable cacao growing regions are Central and South America, the Caribbean, Africa, Madagascar, India, Indonesia, Phillipines and Papua New Guinea.
Cacao beans grow within a cacao pod, a firm fruit weighing 2 to 6 lbs. Farmers harvest these pods from the trunk of the cacao tree. When cut open the pod reveals a core of sweet white fruit with flavors of banana, pineapple, mango and citrus. This delicious fruit envelops the cacao beans.
After harvest, the pods are cut and the fruit and cacao beans are placed in large wooden fermentation boxes. Fermentation, on average, takes 6 days and involves moving or stirring the beans every 2 days to ensure proper fermentation.
After fermentation, the cacao beans are dried in the sun for 7-10 days.
Once dried, the beans have transitioned from cacao (ka’ kaw) to cocoa (co co) and then sorted for quality control.
The cocoa beans are roasted, like coffee beans, to further develop unique flavors of their origin. The beans are then cracked and the cacao nibs and shells are winnowed or separated. The nibs are then either ground by hand which will break down the paste into a smooth and silky liquid. This chocolate liquor or liquid is then tempered, to give shine and snap, and molded into the final product… beautiful chocolate