The long journey from a raw material to the enjoyment of chocolate begins in hot countries around the equator. Here the conditions are ideal for the gnarled cocoa tree to grow and thrive.
Today most cocoa is cultivated in West Africa, Latin America and South-East Asia. Although a cacao tree is covered almost uninterruptedly in pink-and-white flowers, it only bears 25 to 30 usable fruits per year.
When the pod turns a yellow-red colour, the precious fruit is ripe and is traditionally harvested with a machete. The cocoa beans now have to ferment and dry, turning reddish-brown as they do so. In order to obtain a full aroma, beans from different regions are then mixed.
Now the beans are ready to be roasted: after 10 – 35 minutes at 150 °C they have gained their characteristic flavour and familiar dark colour. After cooling, the beans are sifted and compressed to form cocoa mass. This mass can now be separated into cocoa butter and cocoa powder – the main components of chocolate.