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Are Coffee Beans and Cocoa Beans the Same?

Have you ever asked yourself, are coffee beans and cocoa beans the same? If you answered yes to that question, then you’re not alone. Although both coffee beans and cocoa beans serve the same purpose, which is to stimulate (theobromine for cacao and caffeine for coffee), they come from two entirely different plants and are actually not beans at all.

Both of these types of “beans” are actually seeds. When the plants grow, they develop cherries or pods which then contain seeds, that are commonly known as coffee beans or cocoa beans. Even though they look similar, grow in similar ways, they are entirely different in taste, usage, and growing regions. 

Let’s find out more about the differences between coffee beans and cocoa beans. 

Are Coffee Beans and Cocoa Beans the Same? 

Coffee beans are often confused with cocoa beans. Contrary to what other people think, they both come from the same plant – but they don’t. The most obvious difference between them is that coffee beans are used to make coffee, while cocoa beans are used to produce different types of chocolate.

Coffee beans are not actually beans, but they are the seeds taken from the fruit of the Coffea plant. The fruit of the Coffea plant looks more like a cherry. The fruit is then cleaned and roasted for a longer period of time, which gives it a deep brown color and a richer aroma,

The cocoa beans, on the other hand, come from a Cacao plant. The beans of the cacao plant are found in a large pod that grows from the tree trunk. Just like the coffee beans, the cacao beans are thoroughly cleaned and then roasted before they undergo another process to create chocolate.

Here are some of the key differences to consider:

Taste

One of the most noticeable differences between coffee beans and cacao beans is the taste. This would be noticeable when being produced for various products, for example, if you used coffee beans to make chocolate it wouldn’t taste the same, and probably wouldn’t have the same texture.

If you were to taste the beans raw, they would both be very bitter, but you would notice a slightly sweeter hint in the cocoa bean. Both types of beans require a specific harvesting, fermenting, and creation process to produce an end product. 

Antioxidants

You may not be aware of this, but cocoa beans and coffee beans contain a significant amount of antioxidants (healthy compounds that help the body fight off free radicals. Without getting too “chemically focused” cocoa contains more antioxidants than coffee beans in their original form. However, some studies have shown that coffee, when made into drinks, contains more antioxidants. 

Plant

Unlike many people believe, the plant that both of these beans (seeds) grow on is entirely different. They grow in different regions, at different elevations, and even the casing (cherry or pod) is different. 

Cacao pod growing on a Cacao tree.
Coffee cherries growing on the coffee plant.

Size & Yield

A coffee cherry generally contains 2 coffee seeds, whereas a cocoa pod can contain up to 60 cocoa seeds. However, the cocoa pod is much larger and coffee cherries are, well, the size of cherries.

Coffee cherry containing 2 coffee seeds (beans)
Inside the Cacao pod

Usage

To state the obvious, coffee beans are used to create coffee and cocoa beans are used for chocolate and cocoa powder in baking. They both go through several steps that alter the flavors to create our much-loved products today. 

Do Coffee Beans and Cocoa Beans from the Same Plant?

Coffee and Cocoa beans come from two completely different plants and produce different sizes of pods/cherries with different yields. However, they do share a common characteristic, they are both rich in antioxidants.

Coffee is derived from the Coffea plant and is the main source of coffee. These beans are grown at higher altitudes, grown solely in warmer climates, and have a much smoother taste. Cocoa is derived from Theobroma cacao trees. These beans grow in lower altitudes, and in more temperate climates than Arabica coffee does.

What’s the Difference Between Coffee and Cocoa?

Coffee and cocoa are two different drinks, as they derive from different beans. Coffee is brewed from coffee beans, whereas cocoa is made from cacao beans. One is a sweet chocolatey drink and one is a more bitter caffeinated drink.

Coffee has caffeine in it, which is a stimulant and the main reason why people drink it. Cocoa is made from another type of bean and is often consumed by children and adults for its calcium, magnesium, and potassium content.

The Final Sip

Coffee and cocoa are two of the most popular drinks in the world. They serve as a way to get energy and indulge in luxury sweet treats. That’s why people can’t go a day without our coffee or cocoa (or both!). However, are coffee beans and cocoa beans the same? No, they are not. 

We hope that you found this guide useful, please leave a comment if you want to find out more or add your own information.

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