Where do cocoa beans come from - origin of cacao beans

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Origins of cocoa trees are traced to the Amazon Basin in eastern Peru and Ecuador and far western Brazil. Cocoa beans were originally cultivated by the native Aztecs of Mexico and the Mayans of the Yucatan Peninsula. By 1502, the year of first European encounter with cocoa beans (4th Columbus voyage), the cocoa trees have been already domesticated for as long as two thousand years. A crude mixture of roasted, shelled, and then ground cocoa beans mixed with various spices and blended with hot water with occasional addition of corn meal was consumed by the wealthiest Indian families. This food-referred to as chocolatl - was perhaps recognized as having a special physiological effect (including that of an aphrodisiac) by the native populations. In its native unsweetened form, however, the chocolate proved very distasteful for the Spaniards.

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