So i have been shopping for food products for years. And i have actually never noticed that on some packages it says “Cacao” and on other ones it’s “Cocoa”. So recently I did notice and I thought perhaps it’s originated from different areas, hence the different names. However, once I did some research, there are actually very distinct differences between the two. And depending on your choice, it could have consequences on your health.
“Cacao” actually describes the raw beans that come from the cacao tree. Meanwhile, “Cocoa” describes the treated and processed form of cacao. The main difference between cocoa and cacao, is that cocoa is heat treated and it is highly processed. While cacao on the other hand is not, and it retains all of it’s powerful nutrients.
According to Equal Exchange:
“Cacao” is the bean that comes from the cacao tree, which is known by the scientific name of Theobroma cacao. Cacao pods – large football-shaped fruits – grow off the trunk and limbs of the cacao tree, and cacao beans are found inside the pods.
The beans are harvested, fermented and dried. They are then cleaned and roasted, after which point the products are often referred to as “cocoa.” In other words, “cocoa” is what the bean is called after it has been processed.
So there you go. Here’s a simple diagram to remember the differences. But if you are still confusing the two, just the remember the one with the better grades (more A’s) is better.