What is Cacao?
Many of our customers are surprised to learn that chocolate grows on trees. That is, cacao beans grow on trees before they’re fermented, dried, roasted, and ground to become the primary ingredient in chocolate as we know it. The beans grow inside brightly colored cacao pods that are filled with an edible creamy white and acidic pulp and anywhere from 20-70 seeds (cacao beans).
Most cacao grows on trees about 20-30 feet tall nestled within rainforests within 22 degrees above or below the equator: anywhere from the Ivory Coast, Indonesia, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Brazil. Smaller export countries include Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Colombia, Mexico, Belize, Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia, Madagascar, Dominican Republic, Papua New Guinea and many more places. The work conditions of the farm workers range from indentured servitude to fair treatment of workers with attention to economically sustainable trade practices. Maya visits cacao plantations and makes sure that every one of her chocolates is a product of fair and sustainable farming practices.
Cacao beans vary distinctly depending on the cacao variety, growing conditions, terroir, and production methods. Comparison tasting is the best way to learn a particular chocolate’s flavor traits and develop your sensitivity to quality and subtle variations in character.
Geography, soil composition, and farming techniques are factors that determine the flavor and overall scrumptiousness of the beans, much like coffee or wine. Cacao beans are processed through fermentation, drying, and roasting before becoming the final product used in chocolate bars and truffles.
Dedication to U.S. and International Chocolate Makers
Maya offers time-tested European chocolate bars, but she is especially enthusiastic about her selection of the tastiest tablettes from up-and-coming chocolate mavericks in the U.S. Although bean-to-bar makers from every corner of the world send delicious samples to Maya, she is proud to watch independent chocolate makers grow, evolve, and multiply across the United States.