April 17, 2020

Beware: Not all cacao powders are created equal

By Jerry Toth

If you do an internet search for “100% cacao powder,” lots of products will appear...but their ingredients are not actually the same. Even if a product’s label says that cacao is its only ingredient, there are still differences in the ingredients. Sound confusing? It is.

The reason is fat extraction and the use of alkalizing chemicals.

I didn’t realize this until To’ak started producing its own 100% organic cacao powder (T.cacao Everyday) in 2018. When I compared T.cacao to other products on the market, I noticed a fairly significant difference in both flavor and texture.

If you think I’m just saying this because I’m biased, try it for yourself. You’ll see what I mean. Most other cacao powders have a relatively flat flavor profile, and also lack a certain creaminess. They also usually have a darker color. Turns out, there’s a reason for this.

De-oiling and the “Dutch Process”

Most other cacao powders on the market are manufactured differently than the way we produce ours. First, they typically extract the healthy fats (i.e., cacao butter) that is naturally present in the cacao bean. And then, in some cases, the remaining cacao is treated with an alkalizing chemical. This is known as the “Dutch Process.”

In addition to darkening the color, the Dutch Process effectively “cleanses” the cacao of its natural acidity and generally softens the flavor. This was considered desirable in the twentieth-century, when the preferred flavor profile of hot chocolate was milky and sugary. It also increases the solubility of the powder, which makes it more user-friendly to mass-produce.

But this all comes at a great cost, in terms of the health benefits of cacao. The Dutch Process removes 60-95% of cacao’s natural store of antioxidants and flavonols – and that’s the most important part!

To get philosophical for a moment, I suppose this technique was consistent with the twentieth-century ethos of extracting and isolating individual parts from the whole. As professionals in the CBD industry know (I'm specifically thinking about the "entourage effect"), we are now in a new era.

Just as full-spectrum hemp oil is more efficacious than CBD oil that has been extracted and isolated, we prefer full-spectrum cacao. 


How To'ak produces its cacao powder

T.Cacao Everyday Organic Cacao Powder is a "natural" cacao powder, which means that it hasn't be alkalized. Also, the naturally-occurring cacao butter is left intact. 

Our process is quite simple, which is the beauty of it. Here are each of the steps involved:

  • Harvest the cacao pods
  • Ferment and dry the seeds (i.e., cacao beans)
  • Roast the beans
  • Winnow the beans, which means using air to separate the beans from the paper-like seed coat (i.e., husk, or testa)
  • Grind the beans to produce 100% pure cacao mass, which is solid at room temperature or liquid when heated.
  • While solid, we use a specialized grinder to pulverize the pure cacao mass into powder.
  • Then we put it in a bag. 

That’s it. Most other companies add a few additional steps. At the very least, they separate the heathy fats from the solids. If they opt for Dutch Processing, they treat the cacao with a solution of sodium bicarbonate or some other alkalizing chemical. Our goal is to keep it as simple and pure as possible


Nutrition Facts  

Here is the complete table of Nutrition Facts for "T.cacao Everyday" 100% Organic Cacao Power, including the caffeine and theobromine content. Note: the nutrition facts printed on the label of the bag is incorrect. The information below is the correct information.

If you’re on a ketogenic diet, you will find that T.cacao Everyday has a more keto-friendly nutritional profile than nearly all other cacao powders on the market. 




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