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cocoa beans chocolate tree

Cacao (Theobroma cacao), tropical tree that produces cacao or cocoa beans. The raw material for chocolate is prepared by roasting, grinding, and pressing the dried seeds (or beans) from the woody cacao fruits. Pressing squeezes out cocoa butter and leaves a solid mass that is reground to make cocoa powder. The cacao tree has been cultivated since the time of the Aztecs, who used it for beverages and currency. Christopher Columbus introduced cocoa beans into Europe in 1502.

See also: Chocolate.

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