From cocoa to chocolate
It took several centuries for chocolate to become the refined product we know today. It originated in Latin America. The humid, warm climate there was ideal for the growth of the sensitive cocoa tree. The Mayas, who had settled in southern Mexico, created a bitter, strongly spiced drink from cocoa beans around 600 AD. This was drunk by priests, kings, and nobles during religious rituals. At that time, however, the precious cocoa also served as a means of payment and was presented to the gods as an offering.
At the beginning of the 16th century, the Spanish conquistadors brought the “brown gold” to Europe. When the Spanish princess Anna was married to the French king Louis XIII in 1615, the exclusive drink came to France. From there, it spread via the royal courts to the most distinguished societies in Europe. Until the beginning of the industrial revolution in the middle of the 19th century, chocolate – then in the form of hot drinking chocolate – was still reserved for the wealthy.
Short story of a cocoa farmer’s wife
Sadia Alimaiu lives in Sefwi Boako, a small village in the west of Ghana. She is one of the farmer’s wives who supplies the best cocoa beans for the production of fine chocolate. For several years, she has been cultivating her own cocoa plantation, which is about the size of three football pitches. She takes care of her trees every day until the cocoa fruits can be picked in the harvest season from October to April. Sadia then opens the fruit, ferments the cocoa beans together with the pulp, and finally dries the beans so that they can develop their unique aroma. All this is done by hand and with the active support of family members and harvest helpers.
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