Then The Spanish Came
Columbus was of course the first from the old world to discover the cacao bean. However he did not like the taste, and the beans he brought back to Spain lay spoiling in a warehouse unnoticed.
In 1519, Emperor Montezuma, who reportedly drank fifty or more portions of hot chocolate daily, served the drink to his Spanish guests, including Cortés; the famous conquistador, in great golden goblets, revering it as a food for the gods.
Cortés being commercially minded immediately recognized the importance of the cacao bean. However, Montezuma's chocolate was very bitter, and the Spaniards did not find it to their taste. To make the concoction more agreeable to Europeans, Cortés and his countrymen conceived of the idea of sweetening it with cane sugar.
When they returned to Spain, the idea quickly found favor and the drink underwent several more changes with the addition of some newly discovered spices, such as cinnamon, and vanilla. Hot chocolate became an immediate craze amongst the Spanish aristocracy.
Spain wisely proceeded to plant cacao in its overseas colonies, giving birth to a very profitable business. Remarkably enough, the Spanish succeeded in keeping the art of the cocoa industry a secret from the rest of Europe for nearly a hundred years!
The Spanish invented a tool (pictured to the left) called the Molinillo to assist with the frothing of the drink (a 500 year old espresso machine). The cup and saucer became popular for chocolate to ensure not one drop of the precious liquid would be spilled!Chocolate Spreads throughout Europe...