11th
Mar
2015

Posted in Kafevend Blog

1.Which continent did cocoa come from?

A- America: The cacao tree, or Theobroma cacao, is native to Mexico and the Amazon basin. The earliest evidence points towards a South Mexican people known as the Mokaya as the first to use cacao, or cocoa as we tend to call it. Other civilisations such as the Olmecs, Maya and Aztecs that followed them also used cocoa. The Aztec in particular made great use out of it. Cocoa beans formed the basis of a monetary system and means of taxation, alongside the more traditional use as a drink.

2.Which traditional implement is better than a spoon for stirring your hot chcocolate?

B- Molinillo: Cocoa drinks as made by the Aztecs were rather different to what we think of as drinking chocolate. Made using water and unheated, the bitter taste was counteracted by adding things like chili. One of the defining characteristics however was creating a froth, either by pouring it from a height or using whisks like the molinillo. Molinillos are carved from wood and typically feature intricated designs; they look rather like an elaborate ceremonial mace.

3.Who first brought cocoa beans to Europe?

D- Cortés: Although the honour is in dispute, Cortés is typically said to have been the first person to bring cocoa beans to Europe after his conquests in Mexico. Columbus is thought to have been the first European to actually see cocoa beans, though at the time he and his compatriots didn't realise the potential value of the canoe full of beans they had halted for inspection.

4.Which country prefers to drink chocolate rather than eat it?

A- Mexico: Like many Central and South American countries, it is traditional to enjoy chocolate as a drink rather than a food in Mexico. As well as hot chocolate, a variety of atole known as champurrado is popular which incorporates chocolate into the mix. Chocolate is also used in sauces known as moles, which apparently go quite well with chicken- something that most here in the UK probably need to try to before they believe!

5.Which of the following often accompanies hot chocolate in Spain?

D- Churros: Churros are a type of doughnut, traditionally long and with a star shaped cross section. In Spain and some American countries like Mexico and Colombia, Churros and chocolate are a popular breakfast or snack. Sure beats a bowl of cereal!

6.Where did the British go to enjoy a drink of cocoa when it first became popular?

C- Chocolate houses: Like tea and coffee, the introduction of chocolate to Great Britain saw the creation of a number of chocolate houses devoted to serving the new fangled drink to the population- at least, those who could afford it. The first appeared in 1657 but was shortly followed by many more. Like coffee houses, they were hotbeds for political intrigue and gossip- two early chocolate houses, White's Chocolate House and The Cocoa Tree played host to opposing factions of Tories and Whigs.

7.In which European city did the first chocolatiers receive their training?

B- Turin: Chocolate was introduced to Italy in 1559 by Emmanuel Philibert, the Duke of Savoy after serving as a general in the Spanish army. Turin was granted a licence to produce chocolate in 1678 and has been a producer of quality chocolate ever since. One of the first inventions was the drink bavaresia, a mix of chocolate, coffee and milk, later revamped and presented as the bicerin. Turin's chocolatiers were pioneers in later years, exporting chocolate to other European countries in the middle of the 18th century. Swiss and Belgians interested in chocolate travelled to Turin to learn from the masters.

8.Which bean is to forastero as arabica is to robusta?

C- Criollo: Like arabica and robusta coffee beans, criollo and forastero cocoa beans vary in quality. Unlike the coffee beans, the better quality criollo is a genuinely rare item- only a few percent of all cocoa beans produced worldwide are criollo, with forastero making up a staggering 95% of the market. One of the reasons for the disparity is similar to a difference between arabica and robusta, in that criollo is more prone to disease and provides a lower yield compared to Forastero. A new variety is on the rise at the moment though- the trinitario. It is a hybrid of the other two, with a better taste than forastero, but better resistance than the criollo.

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