Cocoa Vs. Cacao: What Are The Main Differences?

Chocolate is chocolate, right? Actually, no, not all chocolate is the same. There are numerous brands of chocolate available and there are many different forms of chocolate. Cocoa and cacao sound alike, but they are very different in several ways.


What is Cocoa


Cocoa is the word that is used when referring to the heated form of cacao. You may refer to it as hot chocolate mix. It is a form of cocoa powder.


What is Cacao

Cacao is the purest form of chocolate that you can get. It is raw and less processed than cocoa or chocolate bars found in most grocery stores.


Health Benefits

Cocoa powder is very good for you if you choose a variety that does not have any added sugars, oils or milk fats. It contains a high amount of antioxidants and is great for heart health, skin, stress levels and blood pressure. Cocoa is a good source of fiber. It has little fat and also has some protein.

Cacao is thought to have the highest source of antioxidants of all foods. It also has the highest source of magnesium of all foods. Many cultures use cacao for medicinal purposes to lower blood pressure and improve heart health.

Cacao powder contains more fiber than cocoa powder and retains more nutrients since much of the actual whole bean is still intact. It is a great source of cholesterol-free saturated and unsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, natural carbohydrates, protein.



Cocoa powder is much cheaper than cacao powder. When shopping for cocoa powder, you will notice that certain brands are much cheaper. Read your labels and ensure that it is pure cocoa powder. Mixes that have added sugars, oils or milk fats will be cheaper but lack the nutritional value of pure cocoa powder.

Cacao powder can generally only be found in health food or whole food stores. It can be pricey since it is usually found in its purest form without any fillers or additives. If you see cacao powder in a grocery store, check the label and make sure that there are no added sugars or fats.


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Cocoa powder is processed more than cacao powder. When buying cocoa powder, look for Dutch-processed or dark cocoa powder. It has been processed with an alkalized solution. This makes it less acidic and much richer in flavor. Regular cocoa powder will be more acid and bitter to taste; it is best used in baking not drinking.

Cacao powder is made by extracting the cacao butter from the bean. There is not extra process used to refine the cacao powder. The entire bean is used during processing, the butter is extracted, the nibs are pieces of the bean chopped into edible pieces and the paste comes from the nibs that have been heated slowly and melted into bark.



  • High amount of antioxidants.
  • Highest amount of antioxidants and magnesium found in all foods
  • Cheaper price, even in its organic form.
  • Price is much higher.
  • Processed more, Dutch-processed is alkalized to make it less acidic
  • Less processed and kept as close to its natural form as possible.
  • Good for baking and chocolate molding.
  • Good for baking and is also used for health benefits.