I have been wondering the answer to this question for quite some time now, so I finally decided to do some research of my own. What is the difference between cocoa and cacao?
Truthfully, there really isn't that much of a difference.
Generally, cacao has come to mean the raw, unroasted form whereas cocoa means the more processed, roasted form.
So, you often see hot chocolate powder being called cocoa powder because cocoa powder is typically more processed, the beans used to make the cocoa powder have been roasted, and there’s often sugar or cacao butter added into it.
However, if you purchase raw cacao powder, it’s generally unroasted, unprocessed, and doesn’t contain cacao butter or added sugar. This is also the form that is generally touted to have various health benefits (e.g., due to its high concentration of antioxidants and flavonols).
Raw cacao is made by cold-pressing un-roasted cacoa beans. The process keeps the living enzymes in the cacoa and removes the fat (cacao butter).
Cocoa looks the same but it’s not. Cocoa powder is raw cacao that’s been roasted at high temperatures. Sadly, roasting changes the molecular structure of the cacoa bean, reducing the enzyme content and lowering the overall nutritional value.
Benefits of raw cacao
You can use cocoa powder and cacao powder interchangeably in baking recipes, smoothies,oatmeal, cookies, homemade raw treats, or even stir them into your coffee for a homemade mocha.
In conclusion, both cacao and cocoa are highly nutritious for you and are sure to satisfy your chocolate cravings around the clock. If you want more nutrients, I would suggest you choose cacao, but if you want less calories and and decent source of antioxidants, then definitely go with cocoa powder.
Which do you prefer?