What is the Difference Between Cacao and Cocoa?

Chocolate lovers and health enthusiasts alike often encounter two similar-sounding terms that hold distinct differences: cacao and cocoa. While they both originate from the same plant and contribute to the chocolates we love, understanding their unique properties, processing methods, and health benefits is key to enhancing your appreciation and choice in using them. In this blog post, we shed light on each term to make sure you really know your stuff!

  • Cacao vs. Cocoa: What’s the Difference?
  • The Flavour Profiles of Cacao & Cocoa 
  • Health Benefits of Cacao & Cocoa 
  • Choosing Between Cacao & Cocoa 
  • How to Enjoy Cacao at Home

Cacao vs. Cocoa: What’s the Difference?

Although the terms cacao and cocoa might sound similar, they refer to different products from the same plant, each having unique characteristics and production processes.

Cacao

Source:

Cacao is the raw, much less processed form that is harvested directly from the cacao fruit. When it is treated or manufactured, this is when it eventually becomes cocoa. Cacao therefore refers to raw cacao beans that have not been roasted.

Process:

Cacao products are usually made by cold-pressing unroasted cacao beans (the seeds of the cacao fruit). This process helps to retain the nutritional goodness in the cacao.

Nutritional Value:

Cacao is known for being rich in antioxidants, vitamins and fibre. It is considered a superfood due to its high nutrient content and various health benefits such as protecting cells against free radicals and improving mood.

Cocoa

Source:

Like cacao, cocoa also comes from the beans of the cacao fruit. However, when the cacao beans have been roasted, it is referred to as cocoa and cocoa beans.

Process:

Cocoa is produced by roasting cacao beans at high temperatures, changing the molecular structure of the bean, and reducing the overall nutritional value.

Nutritional Value

While cocoa may not retain as many nutrients as cacao, it is still rich in some minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron.

The Flavour Profiles of Cacao & Cocoa

Cacao

In its purest form has a complex flavour profile:

  • Bitter: due to the high levels of flavonoids.
  • Fruity & Floral: the depth of these flavours depends on the origin of the Cacao.
  • Earthy: similar to what you might find in some types of tea or even wine.
  • Nutty: Although mostly subtle, this can vary from one cacao bean to another.

Cocoa

On the other hand, cocoa that has been processed and often roasted has a larger flavour profile:

  • Rich Chocolate: The quintessential chocolate flavour is more pronounced in cocoa due to the roasting process.
  • Bitter: Although still present, the bitterness is usually less sharp compared to raw cacao.
  • Sweetness: Depending on any added sugars, cocoa often tastes sweeter.
  • Roasted Notes: Cocoa often carries roasted or smoky flavours.

Health Benefits of Cacao & Cocoa

Cocoa and cacao derive from the seeds of the cacao tree, and both contain an impressive array of health benefits. Here’s a look at some of the key health advantages associated with cocoa and Cacao.

Cacao:

  • Cacao powder is rich in magnesium, which could help to reduce tiredness and fatigue.
  • Containing 33% fibre, it’s thought to improve digestive function and gut health.
  • It also contains 23% protein which is essential for cell repair and muscle recovery.
  • Cacao contains compounds like serotonin and endorphins that enhance mood and create euphoria.
  • Antioxidants found in cacao can help to neutralise skin-damaging free radicals and improve collagen production to support a youthful glow.

Cocoa:

  • Cocoa could act as a natural antidepressant by releasing small doses of serotonin, helping you feel happier.
  • Cocoa contains magnesium to help naturally energise the body.
  • Cocoa contains polyphenols which have been found to help keep your skin from looking aged or becoming wrinkled.
  • Cocoa contains vitamins and antioxidants, thought to help your heart and your entire cardiovascular system.

Choosing Between Cacao & Cocoa

When it comes to choosing between cacao or cocoa, it is important to bear in mind three factors: nutrition, flavour and health benefits.

Nutrition

As the lesser processed form of the cacao bean, cacao is considered a superfood due to its higher content of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Although cocoa is still beneficial, the processing it undergoes reduces some of the antioxidants and minerals present. However, because of this, cocoa is often easier to find in shops and supermarkets and tends to be less expensive.

Flavour

Cacao is more bitter in taste than cocoa and is ideal for adding a rich flavour to smoothies, shakes, and healthy baking. Cocoa however has a milder, more palatable taste due to its processing and is commonly used in baking and desserts. However, you shouldn’t rule out cacao for a delicious hot drink! Our Cacao Latte Blends have a touch of unrefined coconut nectar for a lovely, slightly sweetened taste.

Health Benefits

If you’re looking for maximum health benefits, including antioxidants, mental boosts, and cardiovascular health, cacao is your best bet as it is in its purest form.

How to Enjoy Cacao at Home

Our Organic Cacao Blends are the perfect way to easily enjoy cacao at home. With each blend, simply add water to make a silky paste then top it up with steamed whole or plant-based milk for a truly indulgent treat. Our Organic Cacao Latte with Chaga blend features the delicate blend of antioxidants and vitamins from the Chaga mushroom, with a smooth and rich cocoa flavour.

At Sweet Revolution, all of our cacao products are a tasty healthier choice to support your overall wellness. Crafted with wholefood ingredients, each selected for its nutritional benefits means you can enjoy a delicious treat without any compromises.