The Emperor Moctezuma considered it to be one of the most delicious delicacies of the Aztec Empire. Historians have said that Moctezuma would drink a delicious beverage made from ground cocoa seeds, mixed with water and spices.
When the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes arrived in what is today Mexico, Moctezuma treated him to the rich beverage, which he later took with him to Spain where it became popular among the Royal families.
Its name comes from the Maya language and means red, strength and fire, reflecting the importance of the delicious fruit to this ancient Central American culture.
In the Dominican Republic, cocoa became so popular in the 17th century that many families began to cultivate the fruit in their farms.
One century later, cocoa became an important part of the Dominican diet. Today, the Dominican Republic has become the world’s most important organic cocoa producer.
The Dominican Republic’s Cibao Valley, situated in the very center of the country, is home to the dynamic agricultural city of San Francisco de Macoris, considered by experts to be capital of cocoa production in the Caribbean.
Overall, the region features more than 250 million square meters of rich agricultural land dedicated to this important crop. Today, more than 10,000 farmers are busily working in the cultivation and production of what is today the world’s most famous organic cocoa.
Just a few miles from downtown San Francisco is “Hacienda Esmeralda,” a unique cocoa farm that offers visitors the opportunity to learn all about cocoa.
A Closer Look at the Cocoa Industry
When traveling through the cocoa fields of Duarte Province, in the country’s central region, it is easy to admire the endless cocoa fields.
It is in Duarte Province where visitors have the opportunity to spend a couple of hours at the “Hacienda Esmeralda” (www.cacaotour.com), and where they will be able to learn everything there is to know about the cocoa industry, beginning with a visit to nearby fields, then on to the cocoa processing factory and finally to its final production phase.
A Healthy Fruit
In addition to its rich flavor, the cocoa fruit benefits the cardiovascular system and has an impact on the brain by creating a sense of euphoria.
Various skin treatments are made from cocoa, because the fruit is rich in antioxidants and helps in the formation of collagen.