What’s the Difference Between Cocoa and Cacao Powder?

Who doesn’t love the deep, moan-inspiring flavor of chocolate?

After all, chocolate releases serotonin, a neurotransmitter known as our ‘feel good-hormone’.

Many of us grew up loving (and still do) mugs of steaming hot cocoa and ice cold chocolate milk and remember our moms adding that fragrant, chocolatey powder into gooey baked goods.

Today it seems to have a new name and everyone is calling it cacao, pronounced ‘ka-cow’.

Say what?

Isn’t it the same thing?

It turns out yes and no.

Below we explain the difference in cacao and cocoa powder:


Any type of chocolate comes from the cacao bean, so cacao is the raw form of chocolate.

When you see cacao nibs or cacao powder in the store, the chocolate is in its raw state, meaning it’s unprocessed, uncooked, and free from any additives.

Raw cacao has a more bitter, rich taste, and also contains more antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Many cultures of the world have used cacao for years for health purposes, which made it a high trade commodity.

Its high quality and demand are what makes cacao more expensive than cocoa.


When cacao beans are roasted and processed, the resulting chocolate is called cocoa.

These processes cause the cacao beans to lose some of their nutrition, fiber, and antioxidant content.

Most cocoa powders also have additives, like sugar, to balance the bitterness of the raw chocolate.

There are two types of cocoa:

Natural, unsweetened cocoa powder is the most similar to raw cacao powder. The only difference is that the beans are roasted, and these high temperatures decrease antioxidant levels. Some antioxidants and nutrients are still retained, however, so natural cocoa powder still has health benefits.

Dutch-process cocoa powder (or dark cocoa) is a more processed form of chocolate powder, as the roasted cacao beans are also washed with an alkaline solution to make the resulting chocolate less bitter or acidic in taste.

So, is chocolate powder is good for you?!

Yes! Cacao and natural, unsweetened cocoa powder are nutrient busting, delicious ways to slay that chocolate sweet tooth!

You can have your cake and eat it too!

Or rather, have your chocolate and your health benefits, too.


P.S. I should mention that cacao has the most nutrients and also more calories and fat. It’s worth making it work into your diet though because it’s so delicious and stinking good for you. Cocoa powder is also awesome, especially when you’ve already maxed out your macronutrients for the day. #fulldisclosure 🙂

P.P.S. There are lots of fab cacao powders, but this is my all-time favorite cocoa powder: http://www.amazon.com/Equal-Exchange-Baking-Cocoa-8-Ounce/dp/B0012BXTU4/ref=sr_1_1?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1429222621&sr=1-1&keywords=fair+trade+cocoa+powder #swoon #moan #delish


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