Despite what most of us think, chocolate doesn’t appear fully formed out of thin air, a gift of the flavor gods to us gluttons. Instead, it starts as a cacao flower and pod on a TREE. (While this has convinced some people that chocolate is technically salad, this isn’t quite the case.) The process of creating chocolate from that tree pod is long and complicated, which is why Ecole Chocolat and I have partnered to put together a four-part series about where the heck chocolate comes from. We hope to tell the story as simply as possible, and while we may not capture all of the nuances of post-harvest and factory processes, we hope people remember the image.
Here’s the first stage of the process, before the chocolate maker even gets his or her hands on the beans. First the ripe cacao pods are cracked open and the beans are harvested. Then our friend the cacao bean gets chocolate-wasted off fermented cacao-pulp martinis and tans in the sun until he’s all dried out. (Thanks to Fernanda Frick for the awesome illustration.) Stay tuned for Part 2 next month!