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The transformation of cacao into chocolate

close-up of hands removing the papery membrane from cacao seeds

The transformation of cacao into chocolate

Photographs and text by Janel Monroe

Cacao, the raw ingredient used to make chocolate, has been one of Venezuela’s most important crops since the 17th century, when Spanish colonists imported African slaves to labor under harsh conditions on cacao plantations. Slavery has long since been abolished in Venezuela, but cacao production remains strong, and Venezuelan cacao is considered by many to be the world’s finest. Transforming cacao into chocolate is a labor-intensive process that involves many steps. This slideshow tells the story of that process, focusing on one cacao plantation in the Barlovento region of Venezuela.

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