Native to the tropical forests of Central America, the cocoa tree was cultivated by the Mayas and the Aztecs. These people appreciated this food which was consumed in the form of a drink called “chocolatl” (bitter water). This drink was prepared using cocoa beans …
Native to the tropical forests of the Amazon and the Orinoco, cocoa trees were cultivated by the Mayas and the Aztecs. These people appreciated this food which was consumed in the form of a ritual drink called “chocolatl” (bitter water) intended to confer strength and power to those who consumed it. This drink was prepared using roasted cocoa beans (cacahuatl) crushed on hot stones. The preparation was done with water reddened by the blood of from the obsidian knives used for human sacrifices. This red color was reinforced by annatto seeds. Several types of peppers were added, or even peyote (the hallucinogenic mushroom). Mayans and Aztecs sometimes used cocoa as a bargaining chip.
Christopher Columbus was the first European to discover cocoa in July 1502 on the small island of Guanaja (now Honduras), but he thought nothing of these “almonds”.
In 1519, Hernando Cortes landed in Mexico and began the country’s conquest. The Emperor Montezuma offered a drink made with cocoa to Cortes who appreciated and wrote: when you drink, you can travel all day without fatigue and without needing other food.
In 1524, Hernando Cortes sent Charles V a cargo of cocoa beans. The Emperor of Spain and his court delighted in this drink to which they added honey. The monopoly of cocoa at that time was reserved for the Spaniards.
Cocoa appeared in Italy in 1594 thanks to Francesco Carletti.
From Naples, a scientist from NUREMBERG, named Johann VOLCKAMMER brought cocoa to Germany in 1641.
France discovered cocoa in 1615 with the marriage of Anne of Austria, daughter of Philip III of Spain to Louis XIII. The new queen of France quickly shared her taste for chocolate with the whole court and the clergy, it is said that the first specialists in chocolate were the monks: the clergy had a delicate taste and was better than the military when it came to culinary preparations. On May 28, 1659, Louis XIV granted David Chaillou, an official in the Queen’s Court from Toulouse, “the exclusive privilege to make, sell and debit a certain composition called chocolate” by letter patent for 29 years. David Chaillou had a shop on rue de l’arbre sec in Paris. At that time, chocolate was best known and appreciated at the court, among religious people and doctors.
In 1657, it entered England and in 1660 the English cultivated cocoa in their colony of Jamaica.
At the same time, the Dutch, being good navigators, became quickly aware of the importance of cocoa beans and of its transportation from America to Europe.
David Chaillou’s monopoly ended in 1693. Chocolate was then manufactured by a number of apothecaries and spice dealers.
The preparation technique was primitive and remained close to that of the Mexicans. The worker kneeled and ground the chocolate by hand with a cylinder on a heated sloping stone. In 1732, Dubuisson brought a first improvement by inventing a heated horizontal table in front of which the worker could stand while working.
Manufacturing was improved thanks to a man named Doret who invented a hydraulic machine to grind cocoa and reduce it to pulp.