Dark, Bitter, Better: The Process

Mountain Life

In 15th-century South America, cacao beans (misnamed "cocoa" beans by English speakers) served as currency. Today they're one of the region's top exports.

1. To begin the transformation from bean to chocolate, cultivators extract the beans from their pods and ferment them for three to five days under banana leaves in the sun.

2. The beans then get polished and shipped to chocolate producers worldwide.

3. These producers roast the beans to extract their flavor and aromas, then grind them into "chocolate liquor."

4. Blend this with sugar, vanilla, milk (in the case of milk chocolate) and lecithin (an emulsifier), and voilà —chocolate.