What is cacao? How does it differ from Cocoa?
The answer is it's all in the processing - the biggest differentiator is heat. Both derive from the Cacao plant which can be very confusing. The beans are taken from the fruit (cacao fruit is very good btw!) and then fermented. The raw beans will be covered for a few days - there are microbes that naturally go and eat away at the pulp. This fermentation process gives the beans their distinct chocolatey aroma. (1, 2, 3, 4)
The beans are then dried and roasted.
The longer the beans are roasted, the more "sweet" they become. The more they are roasted, the more nutrients they will also lose - which is part of the difference between cacao and cocoa. Cacao is typically roasted for a shorter period of time, or just dried.
The beans are then crushed and separated from their hulls. The small bits remaining are known as, cacao nibs.
Then, the cacao nibs are ground which produces a non-alcoholic liquor. Then it is ready to be produced into various forms. If it's being turned into a powder, for cocoa or cacao - the fatty part is removed (cocoa butter.) It is then enjoyed in many forms - we love it as nutrient dense morning or evening beverage! The nutrients found in cacao are way more prominent than cocoa. Cocoa is typically mixed with added sugar, dairy, etc. While cacao is not.
Cacao is naturally rich in iron, magnesium, chromium and manganese. Being minimally processed - cacao will naturally have more of these nutrients than beloved chocolate. It is also rich in antioxidants and vegan.
We currently carry Diaspora Co. Single Estate Cacao! And we are very excited about it.
This cacao being grown on a single estate means you get the true terroir of the cacao. You might have heard the term terroir while drinking wine, or maybe not!
The term terroir is often debated and for those who haven’t, now you’re going to learn 😊 Terroir describes the essence of a crop that is unique to the crop because of its growing environment. This also includes harvesting practices. Terroir is debated in wine culture but the term single estate often goes hand in hand with terroir.
It's commonly used with wine but also with matcha as it can apply to any crop. You are getting the true essence of where the plant was grown, the nearby crops, and the seasons they grew through. According to some, all of the aforementioned can have an impact (subtle or not so subtle) on the flavor. It is amazing cacao, and we are in love with it. It is intercropped with nutmeg and coconut palms, on land that was originally a eucalyptus grove, then a guava farm, and now it’s roamed by Desi cows and elephants who use the palms as back scratchers at night. If it sounds dreamy, it’s because it is :) cheers!