You say Cocoa. I Say Cacao…
Sometimes I see and hear both the beans and the powder referred to as either “cocoa” or “cacao”. They seem to be used interchangeably, and I thought it might be a Europe vs. Americas thing. Or maybe pronouncing and spelling it “cacao” is just a way for the snootier among us to differentiate themselves from the plebs. I decided to get to the bottom of this, even if it means I have to choose sides.
First stop – the dictionary. According to Webster’s, cacao refers to the beans and cocoa is the powder made from the beans (with the oil/cocoa-butter removed).
Everyone seems to agree that “Theobroma cacao” is the precise name for the tree that produces the cacao bean.
Next we visit the World Cocoa Foundation. They seem to have a difference of opinion with Mr. Webster. They agree on the tree being cacao, but the call the fruit of the cacao tree cocoa pods and cocoa beans. You’d normally assume that with their name, they’re a real authority, but then again, maybe they’d sing a different tune if they were called the World Cacao Foundation.
So far, nothing is settled, so let’s try one more authority, the All Chocolate web site. The site is “sponsored” (= owned) by Hershey’s – not sure if that implies any bias or not. Here’s what they have to say:
It is generally agreed among chocolate experts that the correct term for referring to the beans is “cacao” while the right word for the powder made from them is “cocoa”
Alright then, it’s certainly not unanimous, but let’s define on the official Friends With Chocolate stance on the cacao vs cocoa debate:
|The tree:||cacao [ka-cow]|
|The powder:||cocoa [koh-koh]|
If anyone cares to debate the issue, comments are open. On the other hand, you say cocoa, I’ll say cacao, and let’s call the whole thing off…