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Cacao vs Cocoa: Head to head

Introduction: Cacao vs Cocoa

Over recent years, a new craze has grown for Cacao. More people are turning away from our beloved Cocoa after being sold on the perceived health benefits of Cacao. As loyal advocates of Cocoa, we wanted to bring you a direct comparison to help your next decision with confidence. 

This is Cacao vs Cocoa: Head to head. We’re diving deep into the world of everyone’s favourite sweet treat to unwrap the differences between these two delicious cousins. In this article below we’ll discuss sourcing, production, flavour, nutrition & more.




Let’s start things off with where it all begins – sourcing. Did you know that cacao trees thrive in the dense tropical regions of West Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia?

These humid & tropical regions are rich with dense hills of the Theobroma Cacao tree. Hanging off these trees is where you’ll find your cacao fruits. These large fruits often contain up to 60 cacao beans.

Here’s a fun fact: did you know that cacao trees can live for over 200 years? 

So where does Cocoa come from? Cocoa is derived from cacao beans, they just go through a different processing method. 


Now, let’s talk about what happens after those beans are plucked from their pod-like fruits. Getting straight to the point, cocoa undergoes a longer processing timeline than cacao.

Cacao beans are generally subjected to less processing. This is usually through fermenting, drying, and a little bit of roasting. This helps cacao to maintain a rich, but often fairly bitter flavour.

On the other hand, cocoa beans undergo a much more extensive process. After the cacao beans have gone through the process detailed above, they then go through additional stages of more intense roasting and alkalizing. The beans are then ground, dried or liquified. This is why Cocoa has a smoother, milder taste that we often associated with chocolate. 



Flavour Fiesta:

Flavour is always the most popular topic when it comes to cacao vs cocoa, and for good reason. Chocolate is one of the most universally adored flavours in the world. But what separates cacao vs cocoa?

The flavour of Cacao has often been described as more “intense”. It's renowned for its “authentic” bitterness with a fruity undertone.

Fun fact: many years ago, cacao was considered so valuable that the Aztecs even used it as a form of their own currency! 

Cocoa, on the other hand, is a bit more of a smooth talker. It generally tastes less bitter, milder, sweeter & has a smoother texture. This is primarily the result of roasting at higher temperatures, which can release a sweeter taste. 

Whilst this is generally why more consumers have swayed towards Cocoa, we should caveat that the cocoa we are referring to is not the ultra processed, sugar-loaded chocolate bars you see on most shop shelves. You will always find that high percentage cocoa products are still fairly bitter in comparison to high sugar alternatives.

Nutritional Noms:

When it comes to nutritional profile, again there are some comparable differences between cacao vs cocoa.

Cacao is rich with powerful antioxidants, fiber, and essential minerals like magnesium, iron, and zinc. This has led to researchers closely linking Cacao with a host of health benefits, including improved heart health and immune defence.

Fun fact: Did you know that cacao beans were once considered so sacred by the Mayan civilisation that they were used in religious ceremonies & performances.

Cocoa hosts a similar nutrient profile to Cacao, although its nutritional profile is generally considered to be ‘watered down’ compared to Cacao. This is due to the extensive roasting at high temperatures. 

Researchers have closely linked cocoa to supporting cardiovascular diseases & providing relaxation. You can read more about the nutritional profile of Cocoa here.

Do they contain Caffeine?

Both cacao vs cocoa have minimal amounts of caffeine. So there is no need to worry about any jitters. 

Fun fact: did you know that caffeine is actually a natural insecticide found in cacao beans? It’s like having your chocolate fix without the caffeine buzz!




So there you have it, cacao vs cocoa. Whether you’re team cacao, team cocoa, or just here for the sweet snacks, one thing we can all agree is that chocolate will always have a special place in our hearts. 

To put this article in simplistic terms, there’s a small difference between Cocoa & Cacao that ultimately comes down to preference. 

Cacao is for those pursuing a nutritional powerhouse but are also willing to upset their taste buds in the process. Whilst cocoa is for those who prioritise flavour but are still looking to get some decent nutritional intake. 

At Nutrifize we’ve prioritised flavour. Why? We believe that if high nutrition is going to have flavour, it should be mildly enjoyable. Where we’ve sacrificed some nutritional benefits found in Cacao, we’ve restored other powerhouses like Vitamin B, Iron, Lion’s Mane, Reishi & more. You can read more about our Calming Cocoa blend here.