Wondering what’s the difference between raw cacao and cocoa? We’ll get to that, but first, let's discuss where they both derive: the cacao bean.
Experts have found that people started using cacao about 4,000 years ago. Cocoa was popular in different cultures like Maya, Izapan, Aztecs, Toltecs, Olmecs, and Incas for several reasons. As a highly-priced, frothy, and godly drink, it was only consumed by the rich and elite. People also used it in rituals, feasts, ceremonies, and festivals.
Due to their high value, cacao beans were even used as currency.
After some time, people decided to put the beans through a fermentation process to reduce their bitterness.
This was when the cocoa strategy that's so common now became popular. The strong, darker and more bitter flavor that we today associate with dark chocolate began losing favor as more and more people started opting for cocoa instead of cacao as a powder, drink or treat.
Cacao Powder vs. Cocoa Powder
To produce cocoa powder, cacao beans are first fermented. After that, beans are dried, cleaned, and roasted. When the shell of the cacao beans is removed, cacao nibs - which are growing rapidly once again in popularity - are produced. Once that process is finished, the nibs are ground to produce cocoa mass.
So that sweet Hershey bar you had as a kid and that 100% dark chocolate bar you baked with last week - those both derive from the same source: cacao.
However, since cocoa is the processed version of cacao, there are a few things that make them different.
Nutritional Value of Cacao and Cocoa
Cacao contains 130 calories per serving, while cocoa contains 49 calories. However, cacao has a higher content of fiber, magnesium, iron, and protein. During processing, the large majority of that fiber, magnesium, iron and protein are stripped out. Fewer calories - but much less nutrient-dense.
When comparing the nutritional value of both by grams, cacao is much more nutritious.
Taste of Cacao vs. Cocoa
One of the most easily identified differences between both ingredients is taste. Though you can consume either element without adding additional flavors to them, cacao has a much more bitter taste.
That's why Blossom blended cacao with oat milk, vanilla bean and maple syrup to create a flavorful, nutrient-dense base to our superfood lattes.
On the other hand, cocoa has a less bitter flavor and has been added to milk and other drinks for years. Also, generally, chocolates, are made from cocoa powder to concentrate the flavors of chocolate.
Using Cacao vs. Cocoa
Both ingredients are used for a variety of things. Cacao gives you mouthwatering flavors when you add them to different foods like smoothies, desserts, oatmeal, Greek yogurt, and others. People also use it to make homemade hot cocoa mix. But besides today’s recipes, ancient civilizations used the ingredient as a remedy to heal problems like asthma.
On the other hand, we all know that cocoa is one of the popular ingredients for smoothies and hot coffee. People add them to deserts to give them chocolaty flavors.
In fact, most of the chocolate-flavored things you can purchase include cocoa powder. That means products like ice cream, biscuits, cakes, and dairy drinks.
Like cacao, cocoa was also used as a medicine. People would add them to drinks to deal with asthma, bronchitis, and lung congestion.
Health Benefits of Raw Cacao
Cacao is rich in flavonoids. Therefore, you may enjoy the following cacao health benefits after consuming it regularly.
improve blood flow that supports the heart and brain
lower blood pressure
help in preventing blood clots
helps to increase insulin sensitivity
prevent the development of diabetes
Note that cacao is a great source of serotonin, which is responsible for boosting mood and lowering stress. Not only this, but they are rich in anandamide and theobromine, which help deal with depressive thoughts and regulate mood swings.
Though cocoa may lose some of its nutritional value once you refine it, the ingredients still offer some health benefits, which are:
reduce the risk of heart problems
regulates blood sugar levels
Cacao Powder vs. Cocoa Powder: Key Differences
Cacao powder vs. cocoa powder - now, you probably know the basic difference. Cocoa and cacao may look like the same ingredients but offer you a different taste, purpose, and nutrition profile.
Our cacao latte tastes like your favorite hot chocolate or chocolate milk, with delicate notes of vanilla and ample, and infused with clinically-effective levels of superfoods to support mental energy, focus and stress. It's organic, plant-based and gluten-free with low sugar added.