Ask anyone what food or drink they can’t live without. Chances are very high that you’ll hear either “chocolate” or “coffee” as a response. These are both delicious, and both coffee and chocolate come from beans.
The coffee plant and cacao plant are very different. These plants grow a specific kind of bean and those beans into the tasty products, so many people crave. There are different processing methods for each, and the exact ways they’re different depend on the desired result.
Have you ever wanted to know what the differences are? What about the major differences are between various types of coffee?
There are dozens of types of coffees available in an average grocery store, and there are at least as many types of chocolate.
Each of these has a slightly different process used to achieve the perfect treat, all starting with either the coffee bean or the cacao bean.
Did you know that coffee beans and cocoa beans aren’t beans at all? Read on for answers to this and more.
Are Coffee and Chocolate Related?
Chocolate comes from a small, tropical tree called Theobroma cacao, or the cacao or cocoa tree.
The beans (which are, in fact, seeds!) are in pods. Cacao beans are very bitter.
If you’ve ever had unsweetened cocoa powder, you know how different they are from real chocolate.
The beans are first fermented briefly, then dried in the sun. Then, they’re ground and mixed with other ingredients, most commonly milk and sugar. This turns the bitter cacao bean into what we know as chocolate.
Coffee beans (also actually seeds!) grow from _Coffea _plants. These are also found in the tropics, which is the only place coffee or cacao plants grow well.
There are a couple of different coffee plants, including Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora or robusta. The different types of plants can produce different flavors or intensities.
Coffee beans are fermented, then either hand cleaned or sun-dried to rid them of the parts that we don’t eat or drink. The result is the coffee bean as we know it.
Since these two products come from entirely different plants, it’s not surprising that the result is different, as well.
Coffee tends to be turned into a drink, but it’s delicious, covered in chocolate, or used as a flavoring in certain dishes.
Chocolate tends to be eaten and enjoyed as a treat on its own, although it can be turned into hot cocoa or used as a flavoring.
They’re both very good, but chances are, if you want either coffee or chocolate, you know which one you want. This is because they’re different products!
A steaming hot cup of coffee is a delicious way to start the day. A warm mug of hot chocolate is great for a nice evening by the fire.
These both come from tropical plants, start as “beans” that are seeds, and end up warm and comforting in your stomach.
Which one is best depends on the circumstances and the person.
About the Coffee Bean and Its Flavor
The coffee bean can offer a wide variety of flavors. The different types of coffee plants (usually Arabica and Robusta) produce beans with slightly different qualities.
Arabica beans produce a little more flavor and a little less caffeine. Arabica also tends to have sweeter notes, including the popular coffees that taste a little chocolatey even without any chocolate added.
Robusta beans are usually stronger and more bitter, with more of that distinct coffee taste.
It’s fantastic for things like espresso since it creates that nice, concentrated coffee.
Then, the flavor can change based on how long the bean is dried. For a while, sun-dried varieties were frowned upon.
We can now make this method even better than hand-cleaning the coffee beans, depending on who you ask and who’s doing the drying.
It’s now just one of the steps in making a particular flavor of the coffee.
Before coffee beans make their way into your cup, they’re then roasted. The roasting process’s specifics, including temperature, duration, and materials, all differ in how the final bean tastes.
Finally, it’s ground and turned into a drink. How the drink is brewed also affects the flavor and how strong it is.
The Difference Between Coffee Beans and Cocoa Beans
We’ve talked about some of the differences between coffee beans and cocoa beans.
You know that they come from different plants and have different preparation methods.
But these are all background things, stuff the average person doesn’t see or need to think about.
What about the differences that matter when it comes to reaching for a snack or a drink?
As delicious as it is in chocolate, the cocoa bean has virtually no sweetness on its own.
It has flavor, yes, and bitterness, but it’s not something many people would reach for if they were looking for a snack.
At least, not until it’s mixed with the things that make it delicious and let the distinct chocolate flavor shine through.
Coffee beans have a little bit more of a natural impression of sweetness than cacao, and also they have an earthier flavor profile.
In general, if you’re going to have just the coffee bean or just the cocoa bean, the coffee bean will give a better taste.
What they’re mixed with later on, though, makes a huge difference.
Coffee beans don’t have a significant calorie count on their own. Usually, a cup of coffee with nothing added is going to be between zero and five calories.
A cup of coffee with an average amount of cream and sugar will usually fall between 100 and 200 calories.
Some of the fancy coffees at coffee shops can run upwards of 600 calories.
Cocoa beans have a few more calories than coffee beans, but they’re still not excessive compared to the finished product.
While people don’t generally drink a cup of hot cacao beans (which would be the equivalent to a cup of black coffee), some eat cacao nibs as a snack.
These are little pieces of cacao beans, and they’re 175 calories per ounce. If you’ve ever had cacao nibs, you know an ounce is a lot!
The average cup of hot chocolate has a bit less chocolate, but it also has a milk and sugar component, which lands around 200 calories per cup.
Are Coffee and Cocoa Plants Related?
Despite some similarities in bean appearance and the other similarities discussed above, coffee and cocoa plants are not related.
The plants look quite different, and they don’t have the same origin. Even though both have strong, bitter flavors and are from tropical plants, they share no relation.
Mixing Coffee and Cocoa
We’ve talked about the similarities and differences between coffee and chocolate, but we haven’t yet discussed one of the most magical flavors for people who love both: mocha!
Mocha is a blending of chocolate and coffee, or at least their flavors. It’s a great choice when you want both or when you can’t make up your mind whether you want a hot coffee or a hot chocolate.
Can I Add Cocoa Powder to Ground Coffee?
If you add cocoa powder to ground coffee before brewing it, you’re not going to get the result you’re looking for.
The brewing process doesn’t work the same when hot water runs through both at once. Also, it’s harder to judge cocoa powder’s strength if you’re running hot water through it than it is if you’re properly adding it.
What’s The Best Way to Blend Coffee and Chocolate?
If you brew the coffee before adding the chocolate, it usually works much better.
You can add cocoa powder and sugar if needed. If you’ve got some time and are willing to stir as it melts, you can also put pieces of the chocolate bar into a hot cup of coffee.
Either method will thicken the coffee some, so don’t be alarmed if your drink gets a little less watery.
Are Cocoa Powder and Coffee Powder the Same?
Cocoa powder and coffee powder are not the same. They can serve many purposes; both coffee powder and cocoa powder can make drinks, snacks, or flavorings for more solid dishes.
However, they come from different sources and have different tastes, textures, and calorie counts.
Does Chocolate Have Caffeine?
Chocolate does have caffeine in it, but not nearly as much as coffee does. An ounce of dark chocolate has about 12 mg of caffeine.
In comparison, the average cup of coffee has between 65 mg and 115 mg of caffeine.
Milk chocolate has less cacao in it and has an even lower caffeine count, with a milk chocolate bar weighing in at around 3 mg of caffeine.
If you’re very sensitive to caffeine or planning to eat a lot of chocolate, you should be aware of the caffeine in chocolate. Otherwise, you probably don’t need to worry about it.