Everybody has heard of cocoa, but is it the same as cacao? Isn’t it the same thing? Well, kind of. In the industry when referring to the raw materials that will become chocolate, the terms are used interchangeably. However, there is a bit of a difference, which we break down for you here below.
The turning point
Put simply, ‘cacao’ is a biological term refers to all the parts of the Theobroma Cacao plant prior to fermenting and drying. After this point, these chocolate ingredients are called ‘cocoa’. The cacao tree produces cacao pods which contain cacao beans. Once these beans are dried and fermented, a key part of the chocolate-making process that delivers many distinctive flavor notes, they begin to be referred to as cocoa. Cocoa beans, cocoa powder and cocoa butter are thus all post-drying and fermenting products. Cocoa powder is the main ingredient in chocolate. Cocoa butter, the fat of the cacao, is often also used to give chocolate a smoother texture.
Wait, what about hot chocolate?
Cocoa is still most often associated with those sugary hot chocolates we know from our childhood. Swiss Miss and other famous brands are more sugar than anything else and contain only a small amount of normally low-quality chocolate. However, do not despair, there are craft producers making delicious hot chocolate with high-quality, well-sourced cocoa powder. We have a few of our favorites listed below.
Even if you get these two common chocolate terms mixed up, it doesn’t really matter, since at the end of the day, it’s all about good chocolate that’s carefully-sourced.