The history of chocolate in México dates back over 2,000 years. Both the ancient Aztec and Maya used cacao (pronounced Ka-Kow) seeds as a form of money. They even used it in religious ceremonies as offerings to their gods.

In the 16th century, explorers took cacao from the New World back to Europe. It was mixed with sugar, and quickly became a popular sweet drink across western Europe.

In Oaxaca, I learned how whole cacao beans are quickly turned into a chocolate paste. Here, beans are mixed with almonds and cinnamon to create the perfect base to make and drinkable chocolate called tejate.

To make this paste, workers grind roasted beans in large machines with sharp, spinning blades. This first step creates a hot, thick liquid. Then, the liquid is mixed with sugar to create a sweet, dark powder with an earthy texture. While I enjoyed the taste, it was not the rich and creamy chocolate I’m used to.