Chocolate does grow on tree. Yes! You heard it right. It comes from a tropical tree, the Theobroma Cacao, (Theobroma is Greek for "Food of the gods") native to Central and South America but grown across the world. A ridged, football shaped pod, or fruit, of the cacao grows from the trunk of this tree. The pods, which mature throughout the year, encase a sticky white pulp and about 30 or 40 seeds. The pulp is both sweet and tart; it is eaten and used in making drinks. The seeds (beans) are so bitter, that you'll never believe that the chocolate comes from them.
The pods are harvested twice a year. The pods are opened by hand, taking care not to damage the beans inside.The next step is fermentation. The beans which are still sticky with pulp are placed in earthen pits or wooden bins and covered with banana leaves and are left to ferment. This process changes the bitter tasteinto a more palatable, chocolaty taste. The length of the fermentation process depends on the type of bean and varies from 2-3 days to over a week.
After fermentation, the beans are dried in the sun for about a week. The flavor continues to develop during this time. Once the beans are dry, they are shipped to a factory, where they are turned into chocolate.