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Cacao Versus Cocoa

Cacao or cocoa? Which one is it? Why do different people say it differently? Aren’t they the same thing? All questions answered here!

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Cacao or cocoa? Which one is it? Why do different people say it differently? Aren’t they the same thing?

Most of us have grown up familiar with the word ‘cocoa’. It’s an ingredient in most everyday chocolate bars, and it’s probably what your gran used to make your favourite chocolate cake with.

But now we hear more and more about ‘cacao’, pronounced with an ‘ow’ at the end. So, what’s the difference? Or is it just cocoa spelled another way?

What is cacao?

Cacao on spoon

We’re not just trying to say the word in a fancy way… cacao is different to cocoa.

Both start from the same raw ingredient: cacao beans, from the Theobroma cacao plant.

If these beans are roasted at high temperatures before being processed to become an ingredient in making chocolate, then they’re considered cocoa.

But if the beans are not roasted, and are instead left to dry naturally in the sun before undergoing a similar processing method, then the ingredient going into the chocolate is considered cacao rather than cocoa.

In other words, it’s the roasting process that changes cacao to cocoa.

While this definition of cacao is not a hard and fast rule by any means, it has become the generally accepted term to refer to the raw ingredient. In fact, it was largely the raw food movement that started calling it cacao as a way to distinguish it from the usual stuff.

So which is better? Cacao or cocoa?

Raw cacao beans are rich in nutrients and contain over 300 natural compounds. These include flavanols, which are considered to have powerful antioxidant activity and have been researched for a wide variety of health benefits, including for our heart, brain, immunity and even skin. (You can read more about flavanols here.)

However, many of these natural substances are sensitive to heat. So roasting them at high temps to make cocoa can destroy the flavanols, as well as enzymes, vitamins and other nutrients. Keeping them at low temperatures instead preserves this natural goodness.

So cacao – and raw chocolate made from it – can have greater health benefits than cocoa or a typical chocolate bar. Which is exactly why at Ombar, we keep it raw.

Cacao in Ombar

All of our chocolate is made with raw cacao, not cocoa, so you can be sure you’re getting the greatest goodness from your chocolate. What’s more, our entire Ombar range is organic, dairy-free and contains only natural, whole food ingredients, such as unrefined coconut sugar, fruit, creamed coconut and live cultures. Ombar really is chocolate you can feel good about!

Cacao in Ombar