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The Legend of Sephra

Woven among the threads of ancient Aztec legend lies the story of Sephra, and enchanting goddess whose beauty could only be depicted as the richness of the dark earth, combined with the luster and glow of pure gold. Her voice was softer than the finest silks and her presence carried the aroma of sweet cocoa. It was Sephra who gave the ancient Aztecs the precious gift of the cocoa tree.

The legend reveals that the spirit of Sephra nourished the cocoa trees and lived within the priceless beans they produced. The Aztec kings name the cocoa tree "Theobroma cacao," meaning "food of the gods". Cocoa beans were so valuable that they were used to pay tribute to royalty and as sacred offerings to the gods.

Montezuma, the ruler of the wealthy Aztec Empire, was so enchanted by Sephra that he commissioned an elite force of skilled artisans and master craftsmen to construct a temple in honor of the goddess. As a special offering to Sephra, Montezuma built a magnificent fountain in the highest room of the temple and filled it with glistening spring water which flowed from beneath the temple walls. He then surrounded the fountain with a splended array of the most perfect cocoa beans, hoping that Sephra would continue bless the people with the unique and valuable crop.

So pleased was Sephra with Montezuma's gift that she came to him in a dream and told him that her spirit would always live in the fountain he had given to her. Moments later, Montezuma awoke to the sweet smell of cocoa lingering in the air. The aroma led him to the upper room of the temple where Sephra's fountain stood. To his great astonishment, the fountain no longer flowed with water, but with the purest, richest chocolate. This was truly a gift from the gods.

For centuries, Sephra's fountain remained hidden beneath the ruins of the ancient Aztec temple waiting to be discovered. Finally it was, and with it the secret to the pure, rich chocolate that was coveted by gods and kings...

Cocoa before the Aztecs

The consumption of chocolate in Mesoamerica predates the migration of Mexican people into the Valley of Mexico by several thousand years. The Aztecs inherited a rich legacy of chocolate consumption from other Mesoamerican societies.

The earliest archaeological evidence of cacao use dates back to almost 3500 BCE, in sites related to the Mayo-Chinchipe culture in modern-day Ecuador. The oldest traces of cacao in beverages in the area date back to 1900-1500 BCE. These traces are probably the remains of alcoholic, fermented beverages drunk by the Mokaya people in the Soconusco region on the border between Mexico and Guatemala. Soconusco remains a major cocoa-producing region for craft chocolate makers including Ritual, Vinte Vinte, Nearynogs and Puchero. (For a non-alcoholic taste of what people in prehistoric Mexico might have been drinking, take a look at Pacha de Cacao’s delicious cocoa pulp drink!)

Cacao products have been found in vessels from Olmec sites such as San Lorenzo. Archaeological digs have discovered cocoa in burial pits alongside the remains of human sacrifice victims.

Cocoa in the Mayan Civilisation

Cocoa had a vital place in Mayan mythology. The Mayan creation story tells us that humans were created from a mixture of the divine blood or the gods, and cocoa pods. Cocoa was part of the birth of humanity, but the cacao tree, which grows in shaded areas, was also associated with death. Like the older Olmec culture, the Mayans buried their dead with cocoa, to help them on their journey in the underworld. In the Mayan city of Palanque, there is a monumental stepped pyramid known as the temple of inscriptions, which crystallises cocoa’s fundamental role in Mayan cosmology: in its carvings, the city’s queen, Sak K’uk’, is depicted reborn as a cacao tree.

Sephra Background

Located in Throop, Pennsylvania, Sephra is the leading chocolate fountain manufacturer in the world. Our chocolate and fondue fountains are known by food service professionals around the world for their superior quality, features, and unmatched customer support.

Sephra began as a family owned business and was founded on the principles that product quality is imperative, and customer service and satisfaction are always top priority. These principles continue to guide Sephra's business practices today. Learn more about Sephra.