How Was Chocolate Originally Consumed

To answer this question, we must travel back in time to ancient Ecuador, where the cacao tree’s fruits were first consumed by native peoples over 5000 years ago. They consumed cacao in beverage form, but it’s unclear how exactly that cacao was processed or mixed with other ingredients. Chocolate’s original form was that of a beverage, but it likely tasted nothing like hot cocoa. From ancient Ecuador, cacao traveled north to Mesoamerica, where it was domesticated around 3500 years ago.

Origins of chocolate


Mesoamerica is a region of modern-day North America, spanning from central Mexico to Honduras, believed to have been brought together under the rule of the Olmecs. When the Europeans arrived in the 1400s, there were many native cultures within Mesoamerica, but the two larger groups were the Aztec and the Maya. Both groups maintained long traditions of cacao consumption, which it’s believed they inherited from the Olmecs.


Xócoatl - Mesoamerican Cacao Beverage

Xócoatl - Mesoamerican Cacao Beverage

 Ancient pottery reveals that the product we call chocolate today is almost unrecognizable when compared to the original beverage. Modern mass-market chocolate is more sugar than cacao, while chocolate's original form was the opposite. Modern chocolate has evolved from the Mesoamericans’ deified beverage, which had ingredients added for appearance and ceremony more so than taste. Even its name was the opposite of sweet. Xócoatl, the cacao beverage from which chocolate bars emerged, is best translated from the Aztec language as "bitter or acidic water." (source in Spanish).

Mesoamerican cacao beverages were prepared for both ceremonial and daily purposes, using only cacao beans, water, and spices. Some recipes may have used local honey as a sweetener. The cacao beans used were grown and processed on plantations belonging to peoples throughout the region, so the quality of early cacao was likely inconsistent. Commonly-added spices include annatto, vanilla, and chile, while poorer people also added ground corn to stretch their drink. This is similar to how modern chocolate manufacturers add sugar and cheap oils to chocolate to increase their products’ volume.


Xócoatl Ingredients


A Spicy Hot Chocolate

A Spicy Hot Chocolate

The original form of chocolate was more like a chunky herbal tea than a “spicy hot chocolate.” Much of the ceremonially-prepared drink was consumed by royals in the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, where Mexico City now sits. Servants would pour the drink from one pot to the other to froth up the fat before serving it. The city was too far north to grow cacao, so the beverage was prepared in a warm but temperate climate, relatively far from where its ingredients were grown. In that sense, chocolate and xócoatl find themselves in a similar role even now— apart from their roots but in a position to go and find them if they so choose.

Shop Our Popular Gifts

1 of 5
  • Award Winning Chocolate Makers

    Bar & Cocoa is the premier purveyor of exceptional craft chocolates from award winning chocolate makers. We hand pick exceptional makers.

  • Ethically Sourced

    Ethics is a key ingredient to the world’s best chocolate. Our selection supports a supply chain that is more transparent than fair trade — and tastier!

  • Fine & Rare Origins

    We showcase chocolate crafted from fine quality cacao. You can taste the uniqueness and complexity of different origins, unlike mass-produced chocolate.


What makes Bar & Cocoa different?

At Bar & Cocoa, we're not just another chocolate shop; we're a chocolate experience. We meticulously curate a selection of the finest chocolates from artisanal makers around the globe. Our focus is on quality, ethical sourcing, and sustainability. We go the extra mile to educate our customers about the complexities of cacao cultivation and chocolate making through detailed product descriptions, flavor profiles, and origin stories. When you shop with us, you're not just indulging in a treat; you're becoming part of a community that values the art and science of chocolate making.

What is bean to bar chocolate?

Bean to bar chocolate is chocolate that is made from scratch by the same producer, starting from the raw cacao beans and ending with the finished chocolate bars and treats. This process allows the chocolate maker to control every aspect of the chocolate making, such as roasting, grinding, conching, tempering, and molding. Bean to bar chocolate is often more flavorful, nuanced, and ethical than mass-produced chocolate. It reflects the artistry and craftsmanship of the maker and the quality and origin of the cacao.

How do you source your chocolate? Is it ethical and sustainable?

We source our chocolate from award winning craft makers who use high-quality cacao beans and go beyond fair trade. We work with over 50 fine chocolate makers from around the world who share our values and passion for real chocolate. Some of the countries we source our chocolate from include Peru, Vietnam, Brazil, Colombia, Nicaragua,, Philippines, India, and many more. We are always on the lookout for new and exciting origins and makers to add to our collection.

Do you have vegan, or keto-friendly or soy free chocolate?

Yes, we do! We have a variety of chocolate options that cater to different dietary preferences and needs. You can browse our collections of organic chocolate, vegan chocolate, keto-friendly chocolate, sugar-free chocolate, dairy-free chocolate, gluten-free chocolate, soy-free chocolate, nut-free chocolate, and more on our website. We also provide detailed information on each product page about the ingredients and allergens of each product.

How do you pick your chocolate makers?

When it comes to selecting our chocolate offerings, we're basically the chocolate sommeliers you never knew you needed. Our process starts with rigorous research and tastings. Yeah, it's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it. We scour the globe for artisanal and craft chocolate makers who share our commitment to quality, ethical sourcing, and innovation in flavor.

We scrutinize everything from cacao origin to production methods and flavor profiles. Only the best of the best make it into our curated collection, offering you a world-class chocolate experience in every bite. Each bar has a story, a unique flavor profile, and the power to transport you to a different part of the globe. We're not just selling chocolate; we're offering an edible journey.