Mexican Cacao: Origins Of Hot Chocolate

As a part of my range of products I aim to design and produce for the Mexican Cacao brief, I will be designing packaging for hot chocolate. As it is a traditional Mexican brand of chocolate, the hot chocolate will need to be culturally relevant, and be as the Mexicans drink it. Although it was more of a savoury concoction, with added chillies and wine, the recipe eventually evolved to become the sweet treat it is today. The sweet recipe is the one I will be following and instructing on how to make, on the packaging itself.

'The terms Hot Cocoa and Hot Chocolate are often used interchangeably, but technically they are as different as Milk Chocolate and bittersweet chocolate. Hot cocoa is made from cocoa powder, which is chocolate pressed free of all its richness, meaning the fat of cocoa butter. Hot chocolate is made from chocolate bars melted into cream. It is a rich decadent drink.

The original hot chocolate recipe was a mixture of ground cocoa beans, water, wine, and chile peppers. It didn't take long for Spaniards to begin heating the mixture and sweetening it with sugar. After being introduced in England, milk was added to the then after-dinner treat.

The word chocolate is said to derive from the Mayan word xocoatl; cocoa from the Aztec word cacahuatl. The Mexican Indian word chocolat comes from a combination of the terms choco ("foam") and atl ("water"); as early chocolate was only consumed in beverage form.

In central and southern Mexico, people commonly drink chocolate twice a day year-round. Having a layer of foam on hot chocolate is as important today in Mexico as it was in ancient times. Mexicans believe the spirit of the drink is in the foam. The chocolate is whipped to a froth with a carved wooden utensil called a Molinillo and served in mugs.'

Source: History of hot chocolate.

The hot chocolate consumed in Mexico today is largely drunk like coffee, as a wake up call, and little is done to alter the natural ingredient, although sweetness is an important element, a Mexican cup of hot chocolate is far less sweet than European versions.

For Mexicans, the froth is an important element, along with spices most commonly cinnamon, and just as popular, chilli is added to enhance the flavour of the cacao bean. A freshly ground batch of chocolate added to hot water and then frothed with a Molinillo (Mexican whisk) is the traditional way of drinking this beverage, which is how my product will function.

Mexican Cacao: How To Make Mexican Chocolate

This process looks extremely enjoyable, and I would love to give this a go. This is also a very simplistic and traditional way of making chocolate, for many Mexicans. This method is also starting to be used by some of the brands looked at in my market research such as Intrigue Chocolate Co. and Askinosie, where cacao beans are imported from Mexico, and ground and flavoured in America, and sold and fresh products.

Mexican Cacao: Retro Inspired Packaging

Some packaging that has been inspired by retro style. The design shown here reflects tradition, and perhaps simplicity comes with that term.


Mexican Cacao: Research Boards

Amass: Strong Copywriting

Body&Eden, are a company that make drinks that are made for health and wellbeing. They look exactly like good quality bath products, but are actually made to be consumed. Perhaps the cosmetics industry were one point of inspiration for the design of the drinks, where the visual influences the holistic nature of washing and bathing, and so the same principle has been applied to what can be consumed in order to make a person feel better.

'Body & Eden offers seasonal fruit and vegetable superfood tonics and herbal elixirs that densely pack nutrients, vitamins, and herbs needed to support and stabilize the body so that it can do what it does best, better.'

The copywriting for the drinks are bold, though not overpowering where they are white on a clear bottle. The lighter typeface makes the bold one below stand out more, where the words 'energy' 'glow' and 'power' take centre stage.


Mexican Cacao: Intrigue Chocolate

Intrigue chocolate.

Mexican Cacao: Bold Pattern

Bold pattern usage in contemporary packaging design.

Mexican Cacao: Marou

Marou Faiseurs De Chocolat.

'Being the first artisan chocolate maker based in Vietnam, and working in close collaboration with farmers, cooperatives and cacao experts, Marou is aiming to make Vietnamese chocolate a widely recognized origin for gourmet chocolate.

One of the reasons that pushed us at Marou to develop chocolate making in Vietnam is the realization that while things may not be perfect here, at least Vietnam is a country that has an outstanding track record in terms of sharing the wealth among its still largely rural population. Up to a point, the success story of the Vietnamese economy in the past 20 years is based on a dynamic agricultural base with small farmers being helped and encouraged to successfully develop new crops (coffee, cashew, and of course cocoa in more recent years).'

Mexican Cacao: Astrobrights Packaging

Blow, a design studio from Hong Kong decided to exploit Astrobright paper's properties through a series of packaging designs.

Mexican Cacao: Origins Of Chocolate

I already knew that the cacao bean is native to Mexico, and that chocolate in Mexico is generally consumed in different ways to that of Europe and America, where fatty milk and vegetable oil is added. I wanted to design and produce packaging for the branding of a real Mexican chocolate company, that would cater for Europeans that want a taste of 'real' chocolate. This design challenge transcends across both branding and packaging design, and so consideration into the overall feel of the product is imperative.

By reading up on the origins of chocolate here, I can obtain a better understanding of chocolate as a cultural food stuff.

'The first proven chocoholics were in fact the ancient Maya of southeast Mexico who enjoyed chocolate’s pleasures and health benefits almost three thousand years ago! Drinking chocolate was so popular in prehispanic Mexico that the tradition was still going strong when the Spanish arrived in 1519. It is said that Montezuma, the Aztec Emperor, drank cups of chocolate foam every evening before visiting his harem.

Chocolate is made from cacao beans, the highly nutritious seeds of the forest tree Theobroma Cacao (“Food of the Gods”), native to Mexico. The Maya planted large cacao plantations in Tabasco and Chiapas, and formed trade routes to supply their outposts all over Central America. The supply of cacao was so important that the Aztecs controlled major plantations hundreds of miles from their capital.

Cacao (kah-KOW, a Mayan word) was offered as tribute to Gods and leaders, as well as having value in day-to-day life as the region’s financial currency. For the Aztecs, cacao was a gift from their most revered God, Quetzalcoatl, forming a bridge between heaven and earth.'

Chocolate originates in Mexico with the Mayans using it for special occasions, and was given to people of high ranking in society, as well as everyone else, and was used for medicinal purposes as well as for pleasure. Chocolate isn't just a favoured condiment in Mexico, it forms it's identity, and cultural fabric.


Amass: Rogue Soaps

Rogue soaps, found on The Dieline.

Amass: Packaging Trends: Watercolour

Watercolour used in packaging is an 'emerging' trend that has been highlighted by The Dieline, for 2014. This is something Lizzi and myself are going to incorporate into the packaging, as this corresponds to our market research in looking at brands such as Free People and Anthropologie, that use watercolour across all of their platforms.

Amass: Global Identity Research Boards


Brand The Boring: The Veg Loft

Branding examples, printed collateral and range of products. I want to keep the branding range simple, and centred around the logo. The branding examples shown reflect a similar aesthetic to what I want to achieve. The gorilla branding centres around a bold logo, which is how I want my logo to feel, bold, and a memorable symbol. The rest of the stationary uses special finishes or production methods, of which I would like to achieve, and perhaps use a blind emboss.

Brand The Boring: The Veg Loft

The definition of a croft may refer to:

'Croft (land), an area of land with a crofter's dwelling, used for crofting (small-scale food production).'

This may be an ideal type of small farm that could be used in this instance. other types of small farms could be described as small holding or homestead.

Buildings in a city are often thought of as high rise, and so names that may describe this kind of architecture could be apartment, studio, attic, loft and garret.

Urban farms in London:

City farms in London: Find urban green spots and cute animals in London.

A few examples of the types of small urban farms that can be found in London.

'Hackney City Farm.

Nestled on the busy throughway between Broadway Market and Columbia Road, Hackney City Farm has become a fashionable stop-off for ambling weekend market goers, thanks in a large part to its Italian café deli Frizzante, serving hungry Hackney folk fresh seasonal Mediterranean cooking and tasty farm breakfasts. The café may be a big draw but the rest of the farm is thriving with happy animals, a pottery studio and garden. The farm is a vital community hub with a vegetable box collection scheme for locals and courses on low-impact living and beekeeping. There is even a bike repair and service centre, so you can cycle your veg home.'

'Spitalfields City Farm.

If you spend Sundays munching bagels and rummaging for vintage bargains on Brick Lane, you’re missing a trick not to visit this urban oasis built in a former railway goods depot. There are many rare breeds of animals: stop by and visit characters such as Bayleaf the donkey and Bentley the goat, or pick your own veg. The farm also reaches out to local residents with projects like the ‘Coriander Club’ for older Bangladeshi women, free cookery classes, a young farmers' club and gardens growing produce and herbs.'

'Stepney City Farm.

This entirely volunteer-run farm and craft centre has been open for nearly 30 years, offering a green creative space for Stepney. Education is one of the key pillars of this farm, which is reflected in all the activities: from community growing workshops for local people and the ‘Stepney Scoundrels’ volunteering programme, to teaching blacksmithing, carpentry, alternative energy, animal husbandry and more. A café is currently being built, plus a new children’s garden is also under construction using recycled materials such as an old car and bathroom suite.'

These descriptions give a good impression as to what types of urban farms can be found in the UK. Some are larger than others, and they often include the local community, allowing children to learn about animals through visits, classes and workshops.

Brand The Boring: The Veg Loft

The kind of logo influence is that of simple and contemporary ones, that have organic elements within them. I would like the overall branding to centre around the logo, and so the brand needs to feel contemporary, as this would reflect the urban grow space.