Cocoa Beans Vs Coffee Beans – They Do Differ!

Cocoa Beans Vs Coffee Beans - They Do Differ! 1

Even if you’re not much of a foodie, you can still tell the difference between coffee drinks and hot cocoa. Have you ever wondered why we are able to clearly distinguish one from the other? Along with the obvious differences – you’ve probably heard a lot about the benefits of cocoa – there are some that many of us don’t even realize. We decided to go through the entire process of producing coffee beans and cocoa beans from start to finish and see what differences exist.

The usual cocoa and coffee used to produce two of the world’s most popular beverages, coffee and chocolate, are made from beans. And these beans grow on plants. Let’s take a look at what these plants have in common and how they differ.

Coffee and Cocoa Plants

To begin with, coffee and cocoa plants are two distinct plant species. Coffee plants are small evergreen trees or shrubs (the Marena family), and is considered to be the birthplace of coffee in Africa, grow in tropical and subtropical regions around the world. They produce clusters of small, fragrant white flowers that eventually give way to green, cherry-like fruits that contain coffee beans.

Cocoa Beans Vs Coffee Beans - They Do Differ! 3

Cocoa plants (belongs to the Malvaceae family), on the other hand, are native to Central and South America, but are now grown in many tropical regions around the world. The plants are small, understory trees that require shade to grow. They produce large, colorful pods that contain cocoa beans.

Natural Unprocessed Beans – They Do Differ Each Other!

Coffee beans are much different from cocoa beans than they seem. Actually, apart from the fact that both types of beans grow on evergreens in warm climates, they have nothing else in common.


Although we regularly use the terms coffee beans and cocoa beans, they both are not actually beans. Coffee beans are the pips (seeds) of the bright red berry and cocoa beans are the seeds of the cocoa pod.

As we’ve just said, the coffee fruits grow in clusters. round or oval-shaped fruits that grow on coffee trees. They are typically about the size of a grape or cherry, and can range in color from green to red or yellow, depending on the variety of coffee. A ripe fruit consists of several beans – from one to four each. The beans are typically from pale green to light brown in color, and are roughly the size and shape of a small almond.

The cocoa pods are large and oblong-shaped, and can be up to a foot long. The cocoa bean resembles a melon or a large lemon in appearance. The pods start off green and turn to a deep red or orange color when they are ripe.  Inside each pod, they contain many large seeds arranged in several rows and surrounded by a sweet, white pulp. The beans are small and flat, and have a dark brown color and a rough texture.

Fat and Calories

While both coffee beans and cocoa beans are rich in nutrients, there are some differences in their calorie and fat content.

Cocoa bean extract contains fatty cocoa butter, which is a rich source of healthy monounsaturated and saturated fats. As a result, cocoa beans are relatively high in calories compared to coffee beans. In fact, coffee beans contain about 5 calories per bean, while cocoa beans contain about 220 calories per bean. This means that even a small amount of cocoa bean extract or cocoa powder can add a significant number of calories to your diet.  However, it’s worth noting that the calorie content of coffee can increase significantly when sugar, cream, or other additives are added to it

Caffeine Content

Coffee beans contain more caffeine than cocoa beans. One cup of coffee can contain up to 200 mg of caffeine, while one ounce of dark chocolate contains about 20 mg of caffeine. Caffeine is a natural stimulant that improves cognitive function and increases alertness. Caffeine from coffee has a stimulating effect on the human body, which is especially noticeable when you are tired. Excessive caffeine causes anxiety, insomnia, tachycardia, and other problems.

Other Chemicals

Coffee beans contain many antioxidants that help protect against disease.  Cocoa contains the alkaloid theobromine. Theobromine is a naturally occurring alkaloid found in cocoa, as well as other plants such as tea and kola nuts.  One of the primary effects of theobromine is that it acts as a mild stimulant to the central nervous system. It can increase alertness and mental clarity, as well as improve mood and reduce fatigue. Theobromine is also known to have a mild diuretic effect, which means it can increase urine production and help to eliminate excess fluids from the body.

Additionally, theobromine is a vasodilator, which means it can widen the blood vessels and improve blood flow throughout the body. This can have a variety of beneficial effects, such as lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation, and improving cardiovascular health. Cocoa also contains a lot of magnesium, which has a beneficial effect on heart function. Everyone knows that cocoa chocolate acts as an antidepressant.


The flavor of both beans is a result of their chemical composition and the way they are prepared for consumption.

Coffee beans are known for their rich, earthy flavor, which is a result of the combination of various compounds found in the beans. Coffee contains a variety of organic acids, such as chlorogenic acid, which contribute to the acidic and tangy flavors of coffee. It also contains a variety of volatile compounds, such as pyrazines, which give coffee its characteristic earthy and roasted flavor.

Cocoa beans have more chocolatey flavor that is often described as nutty or fruity. This flavor is primarily the result of the presence of various chemical compounds, such as flavanols, which are responsible for the bitterness and astringency of cocoa, and theobromine, which contributes to the overall flavor profile.

How Both Beans Are Prepared To Consumption

After harvesting, the beans need to be prepared for consumption, because people do not consume cocoa and coffee beans raw. In the hundreds (or even thousands?) of years that have passed since the discovery of these miracle beans, mankind has found specific ways of processing them.

Cocoa Beans

Both coffee beans and cocoa beans undergo a series of processing steps before they can be consumed. 

To prepare the cocoa beans for consumption, they undergo a process called fermentation. This involves placing the beans in large piles or fermentation boxes and allowing them to ferment for several days. During this time, the outer layer of the beans is removed, and the remaining beans are exposed to oxygen and heat, which activates enzymes and changes the flavor of the beans. The beans are then dried, which further develops their flavor and aroma. After drying, the cocoa beans can be further processed into cocoa powder or chocolate products.

Video: Drying of Cocoa Beans


Coffee Beans



You may also like...