Difference Between Cacao and Cocoa

Cacao vs Cocoa

Cacao and cocoa refer to the same thing: chocolate. Most people use the two terms interchangeably but they actually mean two very different things. While they both come from the same plant, the cacao plant, the main difference between cacao and cocoa lies in their states.


Cacao refers to the bean of the cacao plant. When you say cacao, you are referring to the unprocessed state of the cacao bean. This means it hasn’t been cooked, or processed in any manner other than being plucked off the plant. Also, the cacao bean is rich with all sorts of vitamins and minerals like calcium and iron. However, once they have been processed, they lose much of it.


Processed cacao is called cocoa. The cacao beans will be dried and fermented and processed into many different items, like cocoa butter or chocolate liquor. In simple terms, it’s a product of the cacao bean after it had undergone a process. Once made, cocoa is usually added to milk and other ingredients to form chocolate. Or, they are also powdered to form cocoa powder.

Difference between Cacao and Cocoa

The main difference between the cacao and cocoa, once again, lies in their states. Cacao is unprocessed while cocoa is processed. Also, in terms of their ORAC values, or how much antioxidants they contain, cacao has a value of about 95000 while cocoa powder is only at 26000. Also, for those who are a bit conscious with what they’re eating, cacao has lower calorie and carbohydrate content compared to cocoa but it has more fat. Cacao also has a better nutritional content compared to cocoa, but that’s only because most of the nutritional content disappears once cacao has undergone processing.

Cacao and cocoa are two products of the cacao plant, and these two are responsible for some of the best things we have in the world, namely chocolate.

In brief:

• Cacao is the unprocessed bean of the cacao plant. It is rich with many vitamins and minerals; however they are lost once they have finished production. They also contain more antioxidants compared to cocoa, they have lesser calories and carbohydrates, but they have more fat.

• Cocoa is the finished product when cacao has undergone processing. It is usually added with milk and other ingredients to form chocolate.

  • Blaire

    This is incorrect.