By the 15th century, the Aztecs had adopted cocoa beans as their primary form of monetary exchange. They drank chocolate as a pleasant beverage, an aphrodisiac, and even to prepare for battle since they believed it was a gift from the god Quetzalcoatl.
The economy of the Aztecs was driven by bartering, which is trading items for other necessities. The inhabitants of Aztec not only engaged in commerce with cocoa beans, but they also practiced agriculture. People would trade avocados, beans, tobacco, squash, hemp, maize, and even rabbits or chickens for the goods that they required in the market, for instance.
Mayan culture revered the cocoa tree to such an extent that they gave it the Latin name cocoa, which translates to ″Food of the Gods.″ It was put to use in a wide variety of applications. The Mayans developed a ceremonial drink that was prepared by grinding cocoa beans, vanilla beans, and other spices together. It was passed around throughout the engagement and wedding rituals respectively.
The Aztecs enjoyed their cacao in a chilled state. They were also early practitioners of a technique known as ″latte art,″ in which they poured the beverage precisely in order to produce a foamy top for a frothy beverage.
The Aztec Empire had its own system of currency, which was mainly based on cacao, in addition to the Mayan culture that existed at the same time. Cacao beans were used in Aztec commerce and offered to Tenochtitlan as a kind of tribute (tax) between the years 1430 and 1531. (Weatherford 19).
Mesoamerica is considered to be the birthplace of chocolate. Chocolate-based fermented drinks have been dated all the way back to 450 BC. The Mexica people thought that the cacao seed was a gift from Quetzalcoatl, the deity of knowledge. Cacao seeds had such a high value in the past that they were even employed as a sort of payment.
The Aztec term ″xocoatl,″ which referred to a bitter drink prepared from cacao beans, is where etymologists believe the word ″chocolate″ originated. Etymologists link the origin of the word ″chocolate″ to ″xocoatl.″ The phrase ″food of the gods″ comes from the Latin name for the cacao tree, which is Theobroma cacao.
In the upper Amazon area of Ecuador, archaeologists have found the first evidence of cacao in pottery used by the ancient Mayo-Chinchipe civilization 5,300 years ago. These traces were found in pottery from the Mayo-Chinchipe culture.
The cacao tree, scientifically known as Theobroma cacao, is a tropical plant that is native to the equatorial areas of the Americas. The cocoa bean is the seed of the cacao tree. After the cocoa bean has been processed, a liquid paste known as liquor is produced. This liquor is then used to make cocoa powder and chocolate.
The simplest combination was cacao with crushed maize (corn) and water, which produced a nutritious, ″cheap-and-cheerful″ gruel. A Spanish monk named Toribio Motolina, who lived in the 16th century, referred to this beverage as ″a very popular drink.″ This so-called ″poor man’s chocolate″ was popular over the whole Mesoamerican region and was frequently mixed with ground chili.
It is thought that the Maya invented the first chocolate drink somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 years ago. By 1400 AD, a cocoa drink, which the Aztecs referred to as xocltl, had become a vital component of Aztec society.
Itle and pulque, a fermented juice made from maguey (also known as the century plant), were the two beverages that were consumed the most often by commoners in Aztec society. The wealthy class made it a point to abstain from drinking pulque. The consumption of tle was responsible for a sizeable portion of the total number of calories that were consumed each day.
Chocolate was employed as a kind of currency by the Maya culture.
According to Baron, the beans were probably used as a sort of barter in the beginning, but later on they evolved into a type of cash, most commonly in the form of dry or fermented beans. Cacao beans are used as currency in these paintings to purchase a variety of goods, including food and clothes, as well as to pay taxes and tribute.