Photo of a production line in a chocolate factory

Have you ever wondered where chocolate comes from? It’s a long journey for chocolate to travel to be made into the candy you eat. The first step in making chocolate is to pick the cocoa pods off the tree. These trees grow near the equator because they need the weather to be hot all year round to grow. They are indigenous to Central and South American but cocoa trees are also grown in West Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia. Inside the cocoa pods are beans.  

Next, the beans will be fermented and dried out in the sun. This will provide the beans with the brown color we see in milk chocolate and dark chocolate. It takes the beans about a week to completely dry out. To make sure that the beans are dried all the way through, farmers rotate the beans to make sure all sides get exposure to the sun. After the beans are dried, they will be shipped from the farm to a factory. The beans will travel on cargo ships and will be transported across the world to be made into the chocolate that you eat.  

Once the beans arrive at the factory, they will travel through different machines to roast the beans which will make the beans more flavorful and mash them. The chocolate will then be mixed to separate the cocoa butter from the cocoa. At this stage, the cocoa does not taste like the chocolate that we know yet. It needs to be mixed with sugar, milk, and other ingredients to make milk chocolate. Then this new mixture will be poured into molds before they are wrapped and sent to stores to be sold. 

Photo of a cacao tree with ripe pods
Photo of a Ghanian farmer cultivating cacao
Did You Know?
  • Each cocoa tree grows 20- 30 pods a year. 
  • Each pod has 20-40 cocoa beans inside of them. 
  • It is believed that the first people to have cultivated cacao were the Mayo-Chinchipe people in 3500 B.C.E. where present day Ecuador is. 
  • Chocolate drinks were popular with the Spanish nobility in the 1500s. 
  • A Chocolatier is a person who creates decorative desserts out of chocolate.