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The Cocoa plant: a bean to cup story

History, benefits and properties of an ingredient we have fallen in love with since our very first recipe

Cocoa: botanical anatomy

The cocoa plant, whose scientific name, Theobroma cacao, comes from classical Greek and means “Food of the Gods“, is an evergreen species belonging to the Sterculiaceae or Malvaceae family.

It develops like a small tree, reaching a maximum height of about 5-6 m, with oval-shaped reddish leaves. The cocoa tree’s flowers are very numerous and gathered in bunches that bloom from the scar left by the fall of the leaves and, sometimes, even on the main trunk – a rather rare phenomenon that seems to have developed to support its heavy fruit. The flowers are characterized by a pink calyx and five petals, with a very narrow conformation that makes pollination very difficult, so much so that there are few varieties of gnats small enough to succeed in this task.

Cocoa: origin and habitat

The cocoa plant is native to the upper Amazon basin region which includes Brazil, Colombia and Peru. The ideal climate for its growth is the humid heat of tropical areas. It does not tolerate sudden changes in temperature or direct light, in fact it often grows in the shelter of other larger trees, such as palms or banana trees.


As with the production of wine, terroir is important for cocoa beans too: different flavors and nuances can be noticed depending on the place where the plant has grown.

Cocoa: processing the seeds

The cocoa tree gives flowers, fruits and leaves all year round starting from the age of 2-3. Its fruits are called pods, they are similar to melons with an elongated shape and a wrinkled shell. When ripe they are harvested and opened to extract the precious cocoa beans. Each fruit contains from 25 to 75. Together with the pulp that surrounds them, they are left to ferment for 5 days, covered by banana leaves.


The fermentation is then interrupted by drying the beans in the sun for 2 or 3 weeks. We then move on to roasting, bringing the beans to temperatures between 120 and 180 degrees for a time that never exceeds 30 minutes, so as not to lose the most delicate notes. Finally the beans are ground and go through other transformations in order to obtain powder, butter or the classic chocolate bar.

Cocoa: fun facts

  • For the Aztec, “chocolate” was considered a delicacy reserved only for the upper classes and was even used as a bargaining chip. We put the word in quotation marks because the “chocolate” consumed at the time must have been very different from what we use today. It seems that it was mainly used in the form of an infusion in hot water, combining pulp, seeds and other spices such as chili pepper. This drink also had a ceremonial and religious value, because cocoa was associated with the Goddess of Fertility.
  • It is said that the first European to taste this drink was Columbus, who however did not particularly appreciate it. In fact, as an ingredient it did not immediately take hold in the Old Continent and was initially used as a spice for fish or wild game dishes.

Cocoa and Wilden: a relationship that never tires us

At Wilden we have a connection with cocoa that we have carried forward since our origins. It is no coincidence, in fact, that it is found in our firstborn, Remedia n. 0 – Morning.It is an ingredient that we have chosen for its tonic and energizing properties and because it is a precious ally of the heart and brain, thanks to the presence of vitamin B and its ability to stimulate serotonin and dopamine for an antidepressant action. 

Furthermore, cocoa is also present in various products in our online pantry. Not only the pastry products signed by Mamù, the family-run Monferrato laboratory that gave birth to the recipe for Frollini Morning starting from our own herbal tea and Baci di Alessandria Parla Nèn. But also in the Hazelnt spreadable cream NUTurally by Fratelli Durando, a completely natural product made of three simple ingredients in purity (60% IGP Piedmont hazelnuts, 30% sugar, 10% bitter cocoa).

nd to top it off, a new entry in our shop: the Cacao Disidente bar, a 70% dark chocolate of the highest quality made from raw materials grown in Colombia.

Christmas Box: our combos dedicated to combining herbal teas and cocoa

If you are looking for the right gift for those who love chocolate, there are some Christmas Boxes that could be right for you.

  • Obviously let’s start with the Breakfast – Gift Box. In all its sizes you will find the perfect combo: our herbal tea Remedium n. 0 – Morning + Shortbread Morning.
  • Then there is the Mix’n Sweet – Gift Box. Here we selected something for the sweet tooth, namely the dark chocolate of Cocoa Disident.
  • And finally, the Night – Gift Box. Because to end a long day there is nothing better than indulging a craving for sweets with Baci di Alessandria, Parla Nèn.

Bibliography

  • The botany of desire, M. Pollan. 2014
  • This is your mind on plants, M. Pollan. 2021
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