Raw cacao powder is NOT the same as cocoa powder.
Raw cacao powder is unadulterated and contains many more nutrients than traditional cocoa powder. It's sold mostly via health food stores and online retailers. Just google raw cacao powder to find retailers like,, and which all sell the product (note: this is not an endorsement of any retailer). Many of these retailer sites also promote the benefits of "raw cacao powder." Many recipes are also found on the internet for such things as a banana cacao smoothie. Cacao in its natural state contains no sugars. describes the difference between raw cacao powder and cocoa powder this way:

"Pure, unsweetened cocoa powder tastes very bitter and rich, which is why it is most often used in sweets and confections. To get cocoa powder from the cacao bean, the nibs are first ground into a strong paste. The fat is removed, and the remaining solids are ground up again into a fine dust: cocoa powder. Because of its drying properties, using cocoa powder in a cake often requires the use of more shortening or butter in the recipe.

According to FDA guidelines, cocoa powder and cacao powder are simply different terms for the same powder, and are nearly interchangeable; however, "cacao powder" specifically refers to raw, unsweetened powder. "Cocoa powder," on the other hand, may still have a very small amount of cocoa butter present to enhance the flavor subtly."
Originally posted by GoodcatchM

..and here is my reasoning and experience of 15 years in the cocoa business, and as a chemical engineer.

Cocoa powder and cacao powder is the same.
What is considered "raw" cacao is supposed to be a cocoa powder that has been in a process that never exceeded 110 degrees Fahrenheit...which is already an almost impossible scenario, since cocoa beans are grown in the Equator, and you may exceed that temperature while drying in the patio under the sun covered with black linens (to heat it up and allow the fermentation of the bean)....and yes, you need to dry them, otherwise they will rot in a few days, and the shell will be too difficult to peel off.

Back to cocoa powder....
ALL cocoa powder comes from the cocoa bean, which without the shell is called cocoa nib (a.k.a. cacao nib). The first step is grinding of the nib (which again, when you grind something to such small particle size you will create a lot of friction with -that's right - heat!). That will give you the cocoa/cacao paste (a.k.a. cacao mass or liquor), which has about 50 to 56% fat (cocoa butter) in it...and ALL cocoa powders have to go through that stage.

Next stage is to take some of that butter away, which the raw community claims can be done through "cold pressing". For any that don't understand that term, cold pressing is done with oils like olive oil to preserve the oil almost intact by cooling the press plates while applying pressure (pressure generates heat, therefore it needs to be cooled). But here is a reminder, olive oil is liquid in room temperature, cocoa butter is SOLID, and it STARTS melting at about 100 degrees Fahrenheit ... so, you cannot control and cool it to a point where it will be still in a solid phase, because it cannot be pressed and "flow" out.

Last operation is to grind the solids left in the press, again - heat...and there is your cocoa powder or cacao powder... you tell me if you call it "raw", a term not defined by the FDA for cocoa, and that can be used by anyone just to sell the cocoa to a much higher price. Maybe that is why bigger, more serious companies don't have this product, since they do not want to be liable for false advertising...

Regarding "Raw" cocoa nibs or cocoa beans...yes, that is possible, and the only concern is the high bacteriological plate count... but how much you want to train your immune system is up to each individual. And yes, the less manipulated the cocoa, the more polyphenols and healthy chemicals you will obtain from it.

There is also a difference between alkalized or dutched powders, and the natural ones (which do not contain any potassium carbonate), being the second ones the ones containing more of the healthy properties (antioxidants). But that is totally different than claiming a "raw" cocoa powder.

So, that is my explanation, and again, I respect anyone's opinion on what they want to eat or how they want to consume it. I just disagree with misleading the general public just to make juicy profits.

Originally Posted by CocoaLady on Chef Talk:

End quote
Bugger. This is like what Jack McNulty said about bogus 'cold-pressed' oils.