Both the Aztecs and the Mayans highly valued the cocoa bean!
In fact, the cocoa bean was so valued by both cultures that it far outweighed the value of gold and was commonly used as money… in both cases cocoa beans were used in trade or to make small to medium sized purchases.
The leader of the Aztecs, Monteczuma II, was said to drink 50 cups or more of chocolate drink per day! … and his court put down about 2000 more!
The Cocoa Bean is thought to come natively from the Amazon river basin and was first cultivated by the ancient Indians in the area… after the Spanish conquest it was brought to Europe and other parts of the world… most cocoa is now produced in West Africa … but there are many small, Fair-Trade farms scattered across the world – all within 20 degrees or less of the equator. These are the farms that supply us our cocoa beans… Fermented and dried in the old tradition, Cocoa beans – much like coffee or fine wine – carry aromas and taste notes that are unique to each region they were grown in…
Varieties of Cocoa Bean
There are only three varieties of Cocoa Bean grown in the world… Criollo, Forastero and Tinitario. The first variety is thought to produce the highest quality beans. However, due to it’s low yield and susceptibility to disease it is grown in very few countries. In fact, it is almost solely grown in Venezuela in the towns of Chuao and Porcelana and also at Hacienda San José located in Paria Venezuela.
The Forastero variety is the most widely grown – making up over 70% of the worldwide production. Most of that coming fromn the West African nations of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana… which actually produce over half of the cocoa beans in the world.
The Trinitario variety is actually a hybrid of the first two and is thought to produce a finer cocoa bean than it’s Forastero parent, yet has a much higher disease resistance than it’s Criollo parent.
Needless to say, there is an ancient and rich history that exists around this magical bean – we hope you find it as rich in flavor and possibilities as we do!