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Cacao versus Cocoa : What's the difference?

What’s the difference between cocoa powder and cacao powder? This is one of the most common questions we get asked at Naturya and what better time to give you the answer than during Chocolate Week!

You’ve definitely heard of cocoa; you add it to brownies and chocolate cakes and it’s the key ingredient in chocolate. You may have also heard of cacao, but perhaps thought it was just another word for the same chocolatey powder with a couple of letters rearranged.

Although Cacao and Cocoa come from the same origin, there are significant differences between the two, especially when it comes to their nutritional content.

Cacao vs Cocoa: Where do they come from?

Cocoa and Cacao both originally come from the beans of the Theobromacacao tree which translates from Greek to “food of the gods”. The tree produces large pods containing around 40 beans.

We source our high-quality Cacao from a fair-trade supplier in Africa, assuring that it maintains a vast range of other nutrients and minerals such as potassium, iron, magnesium, fibre.

Cacao vs Cocoa: What’s the Difference?

The major difference between cocoa and cacao powder lies within their processing after the beans have been harvested.

Both go through roughly the same steps of natural fermentation, roasting and cold pressing. The fermentation process develops the distinguished chocolate flavour which is further enhanced during the roasting process. The product is then cold-pressed to remove cacao butter.

However, cocoa powder is roasted at extremely high temperatures and goes through an alkalizing process, altering the molecular structure of its nutrients and destroying certain compounds within the powder. As a result, cocoa tends to be less nutrient-dense and therefore loses the incredible health benefits associated with cacao beans. In addition, cocoa is often mixed with additives and preservatives to reduce its bitterness, increase its shelf life and achieve a flavour suitable for the mass market.

On the other hand, Cacao powder has gone through minimal processing and is roasted at low temperatures to preserve its nutrients.

Cacao vs Cocoa: Taste the difference

Cocoa is actually slightly more mellow than cacao due to the processing and alkalizing that cocoa goes through to achieve its mass-market taste. On the other hand, cacao has a deeper and richer taste. This makes it perfect for creating deep chocolatey flavours.

Swapping Cocoa for Cacao

So, the question is, can you swap cocoa for cacao? And the answer is a definite YES! Because the major difference lies within their nutrient profiles, they can be used interchangeably. So, any recipe that uses cocoa powder can also use cacao powder.

Check out these delicious cacao-boosted vegan recipes for Cacao Lucuma Brownies and No-Bake Chocolate Pralines!

Why not explore the treasures cacao powder has to offer?

Unlock another dimension of flavour in all your favourite recipes and get your daily boost of antioxidants, potassium, iron and magnesium from some of our favourite products powered by Cacao.

Shop our Cacao & Hazelnut spread, our Chocolate Bundles which feature cacao powder, as well as cacao nibs, and our delicious Cacao Breakfast SuperBoost.

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