Research is critical to the future of cacao crops, which are challenged by climate change and disease. Fruity cocoa flavors are related to how the beans are fermented, while floral cocoa flavors are related to the genetics of the crop. Researchers at the Cocoa Research Centre are currently developing cacao varieties that are resistant to drought and particular pests.

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At CACAO Cafe in Atlanta, diners nosh on sipping chocolate, chocolate salami, or a bar of Aztec Aphrodisiac. Fermenting the cacao beans is a delicate process, says owner Kristen Hard, because there are 14 points of failure to control for delicious results.

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Check out the 2018 Good Food winners – dozens of American fermenters won, in categories like beer, meat, cheese, pickles, chocolate, cider. The prestigious annual awards honor U.S. food producers who create responsible products. Any winners in your state?

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