The story of chocolate, as far back as we know it, begins with the discovery of America. Until 1492, the Old World knew nothing at all about the delicious and stimulating flavor that was to become the favorite of millions.

The Court of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella got its first look at the principal ingredient of chocolate when Columbus returned in triumph from America and laid before the Spanish throne a treasure trove of many strange and wonderful things. Click here

Growing the Cocoa Bean  |   Varieties of Cacao  |   Crop for Shipment  |   How to Make Cocoa Powder
Bean to Chocolate  |   What is Conching?  |   Automation Does the Job  |   A Sanitary Atmosphere
Eating Chocolates  |   Growing Chocolates  |   Chocolates just for kids

Growing Chocolates

Chocolate-making begins in the field, not the factory. Cacao trees supply the seeds that will be processed into the delicious sweet loved ’round the world.

The cacao tree grows in the shade of tropical rainforests near the equator. Its particular adaptations and interdependence with other rainforest dwellers have been a subject of study for many years.

Now, as rainforests dwindle and the demand for chocolate increases, scientists and researchers are looking into new ways to better manage cacao farms and preserve the environment.

Select which portion of chocolate’s amazing origins and rainforest relationships you’d like to explore first:

Introduction: Growing Cacao for Chocolate

For a quick introduction to the chocolate tree, check out this brief summary that gives you the big picture of cacao biology, farming practices, and cacao’s rainforest connections.

The Cacao Tree’s Basic Biology

Find out more about the basic science and structure of this unusual tree. You’ll uncover the hidden secrets of each part of this plant and learn about the different varieties of cacao that go into making chocolate.

Cacao Farming

Get briefed on the basics about cacao farming methods and issues that threaten chocolate production. You’ll examine the effects of cacao farming on the rainforests and learn how farmers and scientists are working together to create sustainable cacao farms.

Explore a Cacao Farm

Explore the relationship between cacao and other plants, animals, and insects. You can use binoculars and microscopes to get an “up-close-and-personal” view of different kinds of cacao farms.