Cocoa and cocoa

Cocoa and cocoa are ingredients used to prepare chocolate. Cocoa is the unprocessed fruit, while cocoa is a powder that is obtained after subjecting cocoa to industrial processes.

The difference between the two lies in their origin: cocoa is natural, cocoa is a by-product obtained from cocoa.

DefinitionCommon name of the Theobroma cacao plant , its fruit and the beans it contains.Powder resulting from cocoa processing.
Origin5000 -3500 BC, Mesoamerica / Amazon1828, Holland.
  • Creole.
  • Stranger.
  • Trinitario.
  • Pure
  • Processed.
  • Fermentation.
  • Roasting.
  • Alkalization.
  • Alkalization.
  • Supplementation.
  • Storage.
  • Cocoa liquor
  • Cocoa butter
  • Cocoa
  • Chocolates
  • Instant drinks.
  • Products for baking and patisserie.
  • Chocolates.
  • Chocolate flavored food products.

What is cocoa?

Cacao is the common name for Theobroma cacao , a perennial tree with elongated fruits and abundant seeds, whose origin dates back to the Olmec civilization, which existed in Mesoamerica 3,500 years ago.

The cocoa fruit receives the same name, and is characterized by having seeds covered by a whitish and fibrous pulp. These seeds are processed into powder form and are used in their pure form or as a raw material to make cocoa, which is cocoa powder with additional ingredients.

There are several hypotheses about the origin of the word cocoa:

  • Kakaw : it was the name used for the containers where the cocoa fruits were kept. It is the oldest record of the word “cacao” in the Mayan culture.
  • Kajkab : bitter juice in the Mayan culture.
  • Cacaotl : an evolution of the previous terms.
  • Cacao : Castilianization of the term cacaotl , once the colonization process by the Spanish began.

Origin of cocoa

There are multiple records that show the consumption of infusions and beverages with cocoa in Mesoamerican culture. For the Mayans, cacao was an exclusive drink for the nobility and was already consumed since 1750 BC. C, according to the findings of the National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico.

Although there are no doubts about the use and consumption of the cocoa fruit in Mesoamerican culture, it is not very clear that the Olmecs and Mayans were pioneers in its cultivation.

There is a hypothesis that suggests that cacao was brought from South America to Mesoamerica by humans. In 2013, at the III Meeting of Amazonian Archeology held in Ecuador, evidence was shown about the cultivation and commercialization of this plant for 5500 years in what is now Ecuadorian territory.

For the researchers, this not only proves that the cultivation of cocoa is much older than previously believed, but it also demonstrates the importance of cocoa as a product of commercial exchange.

Currently, cocoa is grown in several countries, with the most prominent crops in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Mexico.

Types of cocoa

Cocoa has at least ten genetic varieties that in turn are grouped into three large categories:

  • Criollo : it is characterized by having grains covered by a fine shell and by its intense aroma. It is used to produce premium chocolates . It is a category that is cultivated on a small scale, is highly appreciated by manufacturers and has a very high price. An example of Creole cacao is the Ocumare cacao, of Venezuelan origin.
  • Forastero : it is a coarse grain with very little aroma, so it requires a long manufacturing process to obtain quality cocoa or chocolate. An example of this category is Arriba cacao, from Ecuador.
  • Trinitario : it is a hybrid of Creole and foreign cocoa that works very well in mass cultivation, since it combines resistance to the alien’s pest with the aromatic intensity of Creole cocoa. It is usually used mixed with one of the other two categories of cocoa. Santa Severa cocoa from the island of Trinidad and Tobago is an example of this category.

Cocoa processing

Once the cocoa plant has borne fruit, the beans must be extracted to obtain the raw material for cocoa, chocolate and other products. To be processed, they must go through three stages:

1.Fermentation : the cocoa beans are extracted together with the pulp and fermented to cause a concentration of sugars that reduces the bitterness of the bean and develops the characteristic aromatic notes.

2.Torrefaction : the beans are subjected to a roasting and hulling process. Then they are crushed to obtain a cocoa paste from which the fat will be extracted (called cocoa butter), which will be used in the manufacture of chocolate.

3. Alkalination : some cocoa manufacturing processes actually end with alkalization, which is a treatment that is done with potassium or sodium carbonate so that the bitter and astringent taste of the cocoa becomes more pleasant and is much more soluble.

Uses of cocoa

Cocoa is the raw material for other products used in the food and cosmetic industry, such as:

  • Cocoa liquor : it is liquid or semi-liquid cocoa that is used to make chocolates.
  • Cocoa butter : it is used to make soaps, facial masks, lip gloss, among other products.
  • Cocoa powder : it is the essential ingredient in chocolate. It can be obtained pure or mixed with other ingredients.
  • Cocoa shell : it is used to make infusions or as an ingredient in tea blends.

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What is cocoa?

Cocoa is a food product in powder form, obtained after processing cocoa. It is used as a base for the manufacture of chocolate drinks, sweets or foods with chocolate flavor, or as a decorative element in confectionery.

There is no clear origin regarding the etymology of the word. However, one of the most accepted hypotheses states that it is due to a pronunciation error: when the English settlers arrived in America and discovered cacao, they could not pronounce it correctly. Instead, it was easier for them to say “cocoa”, so for a long time cocoa and cocoa were used synonymously.

With the passage of time (and stimulated by the industrialization of cocoa) a distinction was made between the plant (cocoa) and the powder obtained from its processing (cocoa).

Origin of cocoa

Beverages made with cocoa used to be very bitter. Later, sugar, milk and spices were added and from there something more similar to the chocolate drinks we know today emerged. However, the process to prepare the chocolate was very cumbersome, as it required boiling and skimming the cocoa to remove the butter.

In 1828, the Dutch chemist Coenraad Von Houten patented a hydraulic press system to process cocoa into a very fine powder with a low percentage of butter called cocoa. Thanks to this method, cocoa became a mass consumer product, in the form of instant drinks or as a base to prepare solid chocolate.

Today, the alkalization process is still used and other ingredients such as sweeteners, stabilizers or preservatives are added to cocoa to improve its flavor or extend its shelf life.

Types of Cocoa

Once the cocoa beans have been processed, two types of cocoa are obtained:

  • Pure cocoa: it is cocoa powder without any additive. It is usually used in the elaboration of chocolates and fine pastries.
  • Processed cocoa: it is cocoa powder with other additives, such as sugar, powdered milk, etc. It is used as a raw material for instant drinks and sweets.

How do you get cocoa?

After processing the cocoa beans, the cocoa cake is obtained. This cake goes through three processes:

  • Alkalization : cocoa is processed with potassium or sodium carbonate to alter its properties and the resulting product is cocoa: a fine powder with a dark color, less intense flavor and with greater solubility in water.
  • Supplementation : if you want to obtain another by-product, other ingredients are added, such as sweeteners, soy lecithin or powdered milk.
  • Storage : the cocoa obtained must be stored in a space with 50% humidity to prevent the growth of fungi. The temperature must be regulated between 15 ° C and 18 ° C so that it does not deteriorate.

Uses of cocoa

Once cocoa is ready to be marketed, it has some of these food applications:

  • Base for instant drinks : some presentations have only cocoa and sugar, others include milk. They generally only require hot water for their preparation.
  • Cocoa powder for confectionery : it is used as an ingredient in recipes or as a decorative element, just like cocoa powder.
  • Base for solid chocolate : either tablets or chocolates.

Are cocoa, cocoa and chocolate the same?

Although they are often used synonymously, cocoa, cocoa, and chocolate are three different products.

Cocoa is the common name of the plant, the fruit and the beans it contains. Therefore, it is of natural origin.

Cocoa is the powder that is obtained after processing cocoa. Although it comes from a natural food, its origin is industrial.

Chocolate is one of the products that can be obtained from cocoa and cocoa. Fine chocolate is made with cocoa, while industrial chocolate-flavored treats are often made with cocoa because it is much cheaper.

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