Christopher Columbus was given his first drink of xocoatl (chocolate) on his fourth voyage to America. Although he did not like the drink he took some of the cacao beans back to his homeland as an unusual item to show the people at home.
Hernán Cortéz was a young Spaniard who went to Cuba to find his fortune. He heard stories of gold in Mexico and South America. In 1519 Cortéz left Cuba to find this gold. With 300 Aztecs to every one of Cortéz's men the Spanish fought. After 3 battles the Indians gave up. They could not compete against the guns and horses. The Spaniards also wore metal armor. More than this the Indians were afraid of the "god-like" warriors. On November 8, 1519 Cortéz reached Mexico City and was received by Montezuma, the Aztec emperor. Cortéz captured Montezuma and began to rule the empire through him. The Spaniards made the Aztecs work in the mines looking for gold and silver. This gold and silver was shipped back to Spain. Cortéz also recognized the value of the cacao bean to the Aztecs. He established a cacao plantation in the name of Spain.
Hernán Cortéz returned to Spain with some cacao beans. They were hidden in Spanish monasteries. The formula for making the chocolate drink was kept a secret. Only the very rich could afford to buy the drink.
The first commercially grown shipment of cacao beans grown in South and Central America was taken to Spain