With Easter eggs in mind, here are some useful facts about everyone's favourite treat.

It's not suprising that Original Beans is passionate about chocolate and its delectable goodness, but is also passionate about the vital (though little known) role that it plays in the conservation of our rainforests and their indigenous communities.

With Easter eggs in mind, Original Beans has compiled some facts on chocolate that you might not have been aware of.

CHOCOLATE FACTS

1. Cocoa is a fruit, not a bean. The cacao plant is a small evergreen tree between 13 and 26 feet tall. What we know as cacao ‘beans’ are actually the cacao seeds, and they are found inside the seed pods.

2. On average there are 50 - 65 seeds (‘beans’) contained in a single cacao pod, and an average cacao pod weighs about 500g.

3. The Aztecs were the first civilisation to discover chocolate, initially calling it xocoatl - this means ‘bitter water’ which was a celebratory beverage, rather like champagne is today! It was only later when it was introduced to Europe that milk and sugar was added to it, creating the form of chocolate we know best today.

4. Ancient civilisations such as the Aztecs and the Mayans used cacao as a form of currency, instead of money. For centuries, indigenous people cultivated the cacao plant in their own villages, coining the term 'money growing on trees.'

5. Chocolate was introduced into Europe in the 16th Century, when the explorers found it during their travels.

6. 'Conching' is an important step in the chocolate making process used to turn cacao beans into chocolate. It describes the ‘agitation’ process that produces cacao and sugar particles smaller than the tongue can detect, hence the exceptionally smooth and lingering mouthfeel. Conching for conventional chocolate lasts 4 to 6 hours, but Original Beans chocolate takes a minimum of 20 hours!

7. Chocolate contains a naturally occurring chemical called phenylethylamine, the same chemical that our brains produce when we are in love, which may explain its reputation as an aphrodisiac! And Casanova thought so too as he would mix it with champagne for the ladies!

8. Dark chocolate is the healthy choice because it is full of natural antioxidants- other foods high in antioxidants include blueberries and green tea.

9. Store chocolate away from other foods as it can absorb different aromas!

ABOUT ORIGINAL BEANS

Original Beans is the only conservation-led chocolate company founded on the ethos of "what we consume we must conserve." Original Beans replants a tree in the area of the cacao's origin for every bar that is consumed, which amounts to twenty trees for each two kilo bag of couverture purchased – all of which can be tracked on its website, www.originalbeans.com.

12 October 2012