Cacao vs Cocoa: What's the Diffference? - Mangaal Harvest

by Jaywant Chowgule on Feb 14, 2022

Cacao vs Cocoa: What's the Diffference? - Mangaal Harvest

You obviously must have heard about cocoa, it being a popular ingredient for baking and making chocolate, but what about cacao?

Due to the popularity of eating natural and organic foods, especially in the vegan community, the word cacao is gaining more and more demand. Since the two words sound alike, you might be confused as to their difference as they are common in chocolate.

Cacao Terminology

Cacao beans, or rather seeds, come from the Theobroma cacao tree. This plant produces large, pod-like fruits, each containing 20–60 beans surrounded by a sticky, sweet-tart white pulp.

So you can say, cacao is a seed, which is shaped like a bean, from which chocolate is made and cocoa is an ingredient in chocolate.

It is seen by botanists and the chocolate makers as the more accurate term, while someone from the chocolate industry may tell you that cocoa refers to any of the manufactured products of the plant (especially the powder) as well as the bean itself.

Cacao vs. Cocoa, what’s the difference?

Although the two words mean the same thing as “Cocoa” is the English adaptation of the word “Cacao”, there are however some distinctions between the two.

Simply put, cacao refers to cacao beans that have not been roasted. So a product that is labelled cacao is the raw bean and is minimally processed with no additives.

Cocoa on the other hand, is a processed chocolate product, such as chocolate bars and powders.

Some experts use the word “cacao” for the pods, beans and ground-up contents of the beans, reserving “cocoa” for the powder left after pressing the fat out of the ground beans.

Makers of raw (unroasted) or less processed cacao bean products often use the word cacao instead of cocoa to imply that they make natural products.

Nutritional comparison between Cacao and Cocoa Products

When comparing the nutritional value of products made from cacao beans (whether raw or roasted), the biggest differences you’ll see are in the calorie, fat and sugar content.

Cocoa Powder (100g)

Cacao Powder (100g)


357 kcal

359 kcal













When it comes to minerals, cocoa powder contains 11.9mg Iron, 429 mg Magnesium and 1311mg Potassium.

Raw cacao, on the other hand, contains 126% more Iron, 149% more Magnesium and 136% more Potassium.

So when it comes to nutrition, cacao has higher mineral content and has more going for it such as enzymes and antioxidants.

Which is healthier, Cocoa or Cacao?

Since Cocoa and cacao are processed differently, the nutrition is definitely affected. Heating and processing cocoa makes it lower in nutrients, whereas cacao still has a significant amount of nutrition.

Since Cacao is the purest form of chocolate, it’s high in antioxidants compared to other foods and has a high amount of flavonoids.

Gram per gram, cacao is more nutritious and healthier. However when you factor in that cocoa is far cheaper it means that per dollar cocoa is the better choice if budget is an issue.

The Hurrah about Cacao

Due to a growing interest in raw vegan and organic food, Cacao has come to the centre stage of the food scene.

Organic food stores and manufacturers are now using the authentic spelling of the word so as to distinguish their products from the ones that use roasted cacao beans, such as raw cacao powder vs. cocoa powder.

You can use cacao nibs, for many recipes, or the dried and fermented cacao beans that are ground up into pieces, or cacao powder.

Swap your usual granola with cacao almond granola, to make for an exciting breakfast, crunchy salads, healthy baked goods and more.

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