Cocoa and chocolate are both prepared from the cocoa bean, or pulpy seeds of the exotic cacao tree, Theobroma cacao. The major portion of the supply consumed in the United States is derived from Brazil, the British West Indies, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Dutch Guiana. In the United States in 1890 the consumption of chocolate amounted to 634,551 pounds, and of cocoa to 993,402 pounds.

The cacao tree attains a height varying up to twelve metres. It blossoms frequently and yields two crops a year of a bright-yellow soft fruit. The fruit, which bears some resemblance to a small cucumber, contains two or three dozen colourless seeds embedded in mucilaginous material. When dried in the sunlight, the seeds acquire a bright-yellow or brown colour and harden. The cocoa starch grains are spherical.

Preparation

Cocoa may be either fermented or unfermented. The former variety is dried in the sun at once, and the latter is kept for some time, in quantity, in a cool, moist place, while fermentation proceeds. The process of fermentation greatly improves the flavour, for the natural acidity and bitter taste of the seeds succeeds to a milder, somewhat aromatic, and more agreeable flavour.

The husks of the cocoa beans are irritant to the alimentary canal, and possess little nutrient material.

The kernels when finely ground constitute "cocoa nibs," from which a decoction is made by boiling in water for about two hours, and removing the insoluble residue by straining or decanting; but the cocoa usually sold in market is made by grinding the kernels into a paste, to which starch or sugar is added. If starch has been used, the cocoa must be boiled for some minutes, but if drluted with sugar it is only necessary to mix it with boiling water or milk.

The different preparations of cocoa are very numerous, but the quantity commonly used for making a single cup of the beverage is a heaping teaspoonful or more.

Composition

The cocoa beans, after being husked and dried, contain fat and theobromine, besides a little albumin, starch, pigment, and salts.

The average percentage of the principal ingredients of cocoa prepared for a beverage is shown in the following analysis by Stiit-zer of a specimen of Holland cocoa:

Theobromine.............................................. 1. 73

Total nitrogenous substances................................. 19.88

Fat....................................................... 30. 51

Water..................................................... 3 83

Ash................................ ...................... 8.30

Fibre and non-nitrogenous extract............................ 37.48

Theobromine is the principal alkaloid of cocoa, and is almost identical, both chemically and in its physiological effect, with caffeine.