Cocoa or Cacao

Cocoa or cacao are the dried and fermented seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree.

Despite various un-referenced websites claiming that “cacao” means “raw” while cocoa is its roasted version, no such official distinguishment exist.

Scientists and chocolate manufacturers use the word intermittently, and the FDA doesn’t have labeling laws to distinguish which is raw and which is not. (1)CACAO PRODUCTS. Available here. (2)Available here.

Cocoa and cacao means the same. Cacao is used in Hispanic languages, while cocoa is mostly used in English speaking countries.

The confusion probably comes from the growing popularity in “raw vegan” circles where the term “cacao” is used to describe un-roasted cacao/cocoa products.

Since most people, including the food industry, government and scientists, use these two terms intermitently, assume that cacao or cocoa is raw, only if it says so. 

Please note that the “Cocoa %” or “Cacao %” information that appears on some chocolate packaging refers to the “Cocoa Liquor”, which is a combination of non-fat cocoa solids and cocoa butter. (3)Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health and Disease. Available here.

References   [ + ]

1. CACAO PRODUCTS. Available here.
2. Available here.
3. Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health and Disease. Available here.

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