All chocolate products begin as the fruit of the cocoa tree theobroma cocoa. Cocoa grows well within a tropical belt around the Equator, allowing production to thrive around the world. The fruit of the cocoa tree, called a cocoa pod, grows directly from the trunks of the trees. The cocoa pods are oblong in shape and change color from green to orange and red as they ripen. Workers carefully select and remove pods from the trees by hand as they approach ripeness; harvesting under-ripe pods would result in weak chocolate flavor. After the pods are harvested, they are opened and the raw cocoa beans are laid out to ferment.
As the beans ferment, they deepen in color and develop complex flavors. Once fermentation is completed, the beans are dried, packaged and shipped around the world.