The word “chocolate” comes from Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, who used cacao beans to brew a drink they called xocoatl. They prized the beans so highly, they used them as money. But the Maya were drinking chocolate long before the Aztecs. And there’s evidence chocolate may have been consumed even earlier, as far back as 4,000 years ago.
Back then, chocolate wasn’t sweetened. In fact, the drink enjoyed by the Maya and Aztec people was described as bitter by Spanish explorers. Sugar wasn’t added to chocolate until it was brought to Europe in the 16th century. And it wasn’t until the late 18th century that ordinary people ate chocolate; before that it was only for the wealthy. With the invention of the steam engine, chocolate could be mass-produced, which made it affordable for more people. Then the candy bar was invented in 1847. Today, chocolate is a multi-billion-dollar industry in the U.S. Some statistics suggest the average American eats half a pound of chocolate a month!
At ootgCoffee, we’re grateful to the ingenuity of the Maya and their forebears for figuring out how to unlock the flavor of cacao, the creativity of the Europeans who thought of sweetening it, and everybody since then who has continued to develop and refine it.