The cacao tree originated in Central America as well as parts of Mexico. Originally over 5.000 years ago, consumed by pre-Colombian cultures along the Yucatan including the Mayans, and as far back as Olmeca civilazation in spiritual ceremonies. It can be found as well in the foothills of the Andes in the Amazon and Orinoco basins of South America, current-day Colombia and Venezuela.
Cacao trees grow in a limited geographic zone of the Equador. Nearly 70% of the world crop today is grown in West Africa.
Cacao was an important commodity in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. Chocolate was introduced to Europe by the Spaniards, and became a popular beverage by the mid-17th century. They also introduced the cacao tree into the West Indies and the Philippines. It was also introduced into the rest of Asia and into West Africa by Europeans.
In the Gold Coast, modern Ghana, cacao was introduced by an African, Tetteh Quarshie.