What’s the Difference Between Cocoa Powder and Cacao Powder?

What's the Difference Between Cocoa Powder and Cacao Powder?The other day I was at a local bulk food store and noticed they had organic maca root powder available for sale, which instantly made me think of Onnit’s Hemp Force protein powder since that’s one of its main ingredients. Nearby I also saw pure cocoa powder with no additives, another ingredient in Hemp Force protein powder. Around the corner I came across some pre-packaged cacao powder which was priced much higher and came in a fancy bag touting how healthy it was. This got me wondering, what exactly is the difference between cocoa and cacao?

What I learned is that there really isn’t a difference, if any at all. In fact, only in English-speaking countries is there cocoa and cacao. All other languages only have one word for cocoa powder: cacao. It’s actually believed that the word cocoa came about due to a spelling mistake, and it happened to catch on because it was easier to pronounce.

So why does the word cacao seem to be popping up more and more lately? It’s more or less being used by companies as a marketing tool to show that their powder is more “pure” or “raw” compared to regular cocoa powder. However, according to the FDA, cocoa powder and cacao powder are different ways to label the same product. That being said, pure/raw cacao powder has the fat from the cacao butter removed, while cocoa powder may have some remaining.

To bring things back to where I started, I looked around the maca root powder and cocoa powder, trying to find a hemp protein powder. I figured if all the ingredients were in one store, I could make my own Hemp Force! Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. All I could find were hulled hemp seeds, which are much different from hemp protein powder (I’ll get into this in a later blog post). Looks like I’ll be sticking with Onnit’s Hemp Force protein powder…for now!