The history of chocolate can be traced back as far as the ancient Mayans and Aztecs in Mexico, both of which are classed as some of the greatest ancient civilizations that have ever been discovered! Within the Aztec culture, cacao seeds were highly prized and were used as a currency to purchase goods with, pay tribute to their rulers, and to make offerings to the Gods. The Aztec’s believed that wisdom and power came from the fruit of the cacao tree, and by roasting the beans, grinding them into a thick paste, adding water, herbs, honey and spices (including chilli), they created what we believe to be the first cacao drink.
Moving along to 1519, an explorer called Hernán Cortés invaded Mexico with his Spanish army and stumbled upon the Aztec civilization. The Aztec emperor, Montezuma, welcomed Cortés with a strange dark drink. Cortés was told the drink was made from the fruit of the cocoa tree, which when made into a drink, was called Cacahuatl. When Cortés and his army returned to Spain in 1958 to show everyone his findings, he took with him cacao beans, and thereby introduced this Cacahuatl drink to the Spanish courts. Instead of using spice like the Aztecs, the Spanish sweetened the bitter drink with cane sugar and cinnamon. This was the start of the sweet, delicious chocolate that we now enjoy today. Due to the drink being incredibly expensive, only the elite and wealthy could afford to drink it.
This chocolate drink continued to find it’s way across Europe, and in 1657 the first chocolate house opened in London in England; a similar concept to today’s coffee houses, and it was a place only open to men, where they would meet together.
The industrial revolution in the 1700s had a big impact on the cocoa industry, as the invention of steam engines made the grinding of the cocoa beans much less expensive and able to be done in bulk, becoming more accessible to the whole of Europe.
In 1829, a Dutch chemist Coenraad Van Houten invented the cocoa press; a method by which the cocoa butter is squeezed out of the bean, leaving a powder, which we know as cocoa powder. By adding alkali, the acids in the cocoa were neutralized, and as a result, the powder was light in texture, dark in colour, full of flavour, and easily soluble in water or milk. This has become known as Dutching, named after the nationality of Van Houten, who made it possible to separate the cocoa powder and the cocoa butter out of the cocoa bean. A Van Houten pressing machine began to gain in popularity and spread across europe, and in the 1830s, Cadbury in England bought one to use in his factory.
It was in 1847 that a British Quaker, Joseph Fry came up with the idea that by adding cocoa butter and sugar to the cocoa powder, instead of water or milk, he could create a solid chocolate, and this was the introduction of the very first chocolate bar.
A few years later, a man called Henri Nestle realised that by adding milk (in the form of condensed milk) to the cocoa powder, cocoa butter, and sugar mix, a different tasting chocolate was possible, which is what we now enjoy as milk chocolate.
It was in 1879, a man by the name of Lindt invented a machine that we call a conch, which rotates and grinds the chocolate mix to a fine, smooth consistency, to be much more like the chocolate we all know and enjoy today.
So, over a time span of several centuries, this ancient drink, of cold spicy cacao, becomes the many forms of white, milk and dark chocolate that we know and love today. Across the world, there are several of the names known to have played their part in bringing us this delicious treat, still creating the household chocolate brands known and enjoyed by many today.
The terminology can be a little confusing at times, but cacao is the term used to refer to the tree or the beans before any processing takes place, and cocoa refers to the powdered form of the chocolate we enjoy today.
At Choc Affair, we’ve created a mouthwatering array of chocolate bars, infused with natural flavours, made and wrapped by hand, to offer you a Signature Collection of bars to choose from; whatever your mood, we have something just for you.
Why not try our very own Chilli Dark Chocolate?
Chilli Dark Chocolate Bar
Chilli and chocolate are such an unusual combination, but has become so popular over the years; and simply had to be a part of our signature chocolate bar collection! We use real chilli flakes to add a slight warmth to the chocolate; but don’t worry, this is not an overpowering taste!