Like wine, there are only specific parts of the world where cacao trees can grow. Most regions where the trees are happiest are just above or below the equator, in areas where the climate is tropical. This means hot temperatures, plenty of sticky humidity and heavy rainfall year round.
Cacao trees are actually native to Central and South America, and there is evidence of cacao fruit having been harvested and consumed in these regions dating as far back as 5,000 years ago. These days, though, the trees can be found on many different continents and the majority of cacao is not grown in the Americas, but in West Africa. In each new place, the trees have made slight adaptations to their homes, just like old world grapes in new world wine regions.
One thing remains the same though: world demand for chocolate steadily increases year after year after year. No matter who you are and where you’re from, people just can’t get enough chocolate in their lives. Which is why it’s important to choose chocolate brands that uphold sustainable and ethical growing practices to protect both the cacao farmers and the trees they harvest from.