I am often asked what the difference is between Cacao and Cocoa – here goes ..
You could be forgiven in thinking that cacao is simply cocoa misspelt. However it is not.
The difference is all in the processing - Cocoa and cacao are pretty much the same thing in terms of where they come from.
Cacao beans come from the Theobroma cacao tree. The trees produce fruit called pods which is where the nutritious cacao bean is found. The cocoa tree bears fruits of all ages, all year long, which ripen alternatively. The pods grown directly off the trunk and branches of the tree from small nodules, it does not hang from the ends of the little branches, as other fruits, but rather along the stem of main branches; this is not uncommon, several trees have similar proprieties: cocoa trees, apricot trees papaya trees, etc.
The beans are neatly packed in rows inside the pod, a total of up to 40 or so beans, the beans are covered in a white soft pulp which is sweetish but quite tart to taste. These pods are hand-picked and cracked open to harvest the beans
The cocoa beans are fermented, roasted and separated from their hulls. The beans are ground to produce cocoa mass, also known as cocoa liquor.
In cacao production, beans are harvested and fermented to enhance the flavour. They are then crushed and chopped to make cacao nibs.
The next step is to then produce a cacao paste or liquor which in commercial chocolate is then compressed to remove the cacao butter, and the remaining product is dried and used to produce cocoa powder.
But that is another story for another day!