Hot chocolate and coffee are two of the world's favorite morning drinks and they have much more in common than people often realize. They grow in a similar environment, have to go through very similar processes before they are consumed, and even share some of the same energizing effects. And they're both delicious, of course. But some significant differences between the two should be known. For instance, some people think that cocoa and coffee come from the same bean, but they come from two unrelated plants. They also don't have the same effects on the body. Let's take a closer look at some of the differences and similarities between chocolate and coffee.
Does Coffee and Chocolate Come from the Same Plant?
One of the biggest misconceptions about coffee and chocolate is that they both come from the same tree. This is why so many people ask how much caffeine does cocoa have and if they’re going to get caffeine from brewed hot chocolate.
While both plants grow in similar environments, they are completely different. Not only do both products come from different plants, but they originate from two different continents.
The Theobroma cacao tree originated in Mesoamerica and is where it was first cultivated on a large scale. It is an evergreen tree that produces fruits, also known as pods, and flowers directly on its trunk. The pods contain the seeds that will eventually become what we know as chocolate. One interesting thing to note is that cacao and cocoa are not synonyms. It's only after cacao has been transformed that it becomes cocoa.
Cacao pods are oblong and contain 20 to 60 beans each. The beans are surrounded by a sweet pulp that can be eaten raw. The pods can greatly differ in color, but the beans are roughly the same. It takes about 15 to 30 pods to produce one kilogram of cocoa.
Coffee, on the other hand, comes from two different trees. Most of the coffee that is produced in the world comes from the Coffea arabica tree, which is indigenous to Ethiopia. This is where the tree was first domesticated and cultivated before it made its way to Yemen after it was brought over by Somali merchants.
Coffee also doesn't come from pods. It comes from coffee cherries that grow on the coffee tree's branches. Each coffee cherry contains two beans.
Similarities Between Cacao and Coffee
While coffee and cacao come from different places and different plants, they do share a few things in common. The biggest similarity between both is that the beans have to be roasted before they can be turned into drinks and various other products. It is the roasting process that gives the beans their rich color and flavor.
Both coffee and cocoa beans look and taste very different before they're roasted too. Cocoa beans have a fleshy white color while most coffee beans are green before they are roasted. While the flesh of the cacao fruit is sweet, the beans themselves have an earthy bitter flavor that is slightly like dark chocolate, but not exactly. Unroasted coffee beans, on the other hand, have a grassy and beany aroma.
Another thing that cacao and coffee share in common is the type of conditions in which both flourish. This is also why most coffee-producing countries also produce cacao. Coffee was imported from Northeastern Africa and became a staple crop in South America, and cacao went from South America to the Ivory Coast which is the world's biggest producer of cacao today.
Both plants thrive in tropical climates but require slightly different conditions to thrive. Coffee is a much more delicate plant and can only survive in a narrow temperature range. The temperature needs to be between 64°F and 70°F for the plant to survive and it can only grow in high altitudes. Besides that, both plants are roughly cultivated the same.
Both coffee and cacao were spread through the world through colonization too, and around the same period. Cacao spread from Mesoamerica after the Spaniards discovered it in the 16th century. They first introduced the drink to nobles and spread it to their colonies. This is how the tree found its way to the West Indies and the Philippines.
Coffee, on the other hand, spread from Ethiopia to Yemen and was then spread by Ottoman merchants. The drink was first introduced in Europe after the Ottomans invaded Hungary. Coffee then spread from Europe to the rest of the world through trade.
The Differences and Similarities in Production Methods
Cacao and coffee also share a lot of similarities in the way they are produced and transformed. First of all, both of them have to be roasted before they can be consumed. However, one of the main differences between coffee and cacao is that cacao beans need to be fermented before they are roasted.
Cacao beans need to first be put into wooden containers and left to ferment for about two to 10 days before they can get to the next step. Fermentation is one of the things that gives chocolate its distinctive aroma as multiple chemical compounds are produced during that time.
Coffee beans also have to go through various steps before they can be roasted. They have to be cleaned and polished first. This is done so that no trace of pulp is left, which can affect the taste of the final product.
Roasting both beans will provoke a Maillard reaction, and this is where many of the flavor compounds are produced. The level of the roast will affect the flavor of the beans and the products derived from them. A darker roast will result in a bitter product in both cases.
You should know, however, that the "dark" designation doesn't mean the same for both products. When they say that a coffee is dark, it means that it has been roasted for longer, and a dark chocolate will simply be more concentrated.
Has Chocolate Got Caffeine in it?
Another similarity between chocolate and coffee is that both contain some caffeine. So, if you are asking yourself ‘does chocolate have caffeine?’, the answer is yes, there is caffeine in chocolate. But the amount of caffeine in chocolate vs coffee is very different.
There is caffeine in cocoa powder, but a lot less than in coffee. So, if you are asking 'does chocolate contain caffeine?' because you are scared that it might get you too wired, you have nothing to fear.
The cacao caffeine content is about 7mg per cup while the average cup of coffee will have as much as 80 mg per cup, or even more in some cases. That is a large difference. But you should know that the amount of caffeine in chocolate will largely depend on the type of chocolate.
Does Dark Chocolate Have Caffeine?
Yes, dark chocolate contains caffeine and it contains more caffeine than milk chocolate. Why does dark chocolate have more caffeine than milk chocolate? It's mainly because milk chocolate is a diluted version of dark chocolate.
Since dark chocolate is more concentrated, the amount of caffeine in it will be different. So, if you wanted to know ‘does chocolate have caffeine?’ because you were worried about caffeine content, we suggest you stay away from dark chocolate. The amount of caffeine in dark chocolate is about 30% more than milk chocolate so you need to be careful not to eat it or drink it too close to bedtime.
Caffeine in Green and Black Chocolate
If you're a fan of Green and Black's chocolate, you should know that their chocolate contains caffeine too. And if you want to know if all Green and Black's chocolate has caffeine, most of it does. The amount of caffeine in their bars will largely depend on the blend. Their dark chocolate contains about 85% cacao and will contain a lot more caffeine than their other bars. This is why you should also be very careful to not consume them before you need to go to sleep.
Does Cocoa Powder Have Caffeine?
After asking, 'Does chocolate have caffeine in it or not?' people often ask themselves whether cocoa powder also has caffeine. If you want to know, cocoa powder also has some caffeine, and the cocoa caffeine content will again depend on the blend. This is why you need to check which type of chocolate was used to make your cocoa powder. Pure cocoa powder will contain a lot more caffeine than mixed cocoa powder.
That doesn't mean that mixed cocoa powder will be less energizing, however. This is because it will usually contain a lot of sugar. If you want to have more control over the effects, go for pure cacao powder and start with a small amount per cup. You can then dial the amount up or down until you find your sweet spot.
As you can see, cacao and coffee are pretty different when you scratch under the surface, but they do share some things in common too. Now that you know these differences, you'll be able to choose the right drink for different occasions.