I did some shoe-leather reporting for a story recently, meaning that I walked down to TCHO Chocolate’s headquarters, here in San Francisco, to talk to chocolate maker Brad Kintzer. Mostly we discussed how to taste chocolate, but I was intrigued by how he got into the chocolate-making business: He was studying botany and became fascinated by the cocoa plant. He called it a “wuss of a tree” because it’s especially disease-prone, but he was drawn to the plant’s long history with humans.

As a former botanist, he wasn’t just about the cocoa beans. He actually had cocoa pulp on hand and gave me a sample; it’s the white stuff that encases the beans within the pods, and it’s usually used up in the fermentation process—which means getting to taste it, or even see it, is rare outside the tropics. It was subtly sweet and delicious, like a mix of bananas, guava, and cherimoya, and not at all chocolaty.

Cocoa pods aren’t something you’ll find at the corner market in most of the world. So it’s fascinating to see what someone might do with them, if cocoa trees were as common as oak trees. I came upon a blog today, via Rachellauden.com, in which Bea from Yapak/Yakap, in the Philippines, shows how she transformed whole pods into a cup of cocoa. I have cocoa envy.

Image source: Yapak/Yakap

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