Cacao vs Coffee – Which Brewed Drink Is Better?

The answer depends on many different factors, but most importantly, it depends on your preferences and what you are looking for in a brewed drink.

While cacao and coffee share many similarities, there are also some key differences between the two in terms of taste, caffeine content, health benefits, sustainability, and more.

Let’s dive deeper and explore these drinks and their differences, so you can make an informed decision about which brewed drink is better.

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In terms of taste, cacao and coffee are very different. Cacao has a rich, earthy, chocolatey flavor that is slightly bitter and slightly sweet, like a good dark chocolate.

It has a very indulgent and satisfying taste that most people find incredibly enjoyable and hard to replace.

Whereas coffee has a bold, acidic, often bitter taste with a subtle sweetness that can be enhanced with additives like sugar or cream.

Many people love coffee from the first sip, while others find it to be an acquired taste. Coffee also holds a distinct taste that is not easily found elsewhere.

However, the taste of both these drinks can vary greatly depending on how you prepare or brew them.

With cacao, you can typically make hot chocolate or chocolate milk, both of which are quite indulgent and a lot sweeter than the taste of pure cacao.

Coffee, on the other hand, can be made in several different ways. You can brew simple drip coffees, classic French press coffees, complex espressos, and so on.

Each preparation or brewing method can affect the overall taste of coffee, giving you a lot more options and variation in terms of taste, especially when compared to cacao.

That said, most avid coffee drinkers tend to stick to one brewing method that they prefer.

At the end of the day, if you want more variety from your brewed drink, and want to try different variations over time, coffee is your best bet.

Whereas if you want a good consistent brewed drink, you can opt for either drink, or keep your options open until you find the right one.

Caffeine Content

Both cacao and coffee contain caffeine, but coffee usually has much higher levels of caffeine than cacao.

One cup of regular coffee typically contains around 95mg of caffeine, whereas one cup of cacao contains roughly 25mg of caffeine.

This easily makes coffee a better choice for you if you are looking for a quick pick-me-up in the morning or during your lunch break on a busy workday.

On the other hand, if you are sensitive to caffeine but still enjoy it in small quantities, or want to avoid it completely, cacao might be the better choice for you.

Of course, if caffeine is an issue, you also have the option of decaffeinated coffee.

However, since decaffeinated coffee beans are drier, they grind finer and tend to produce a more bitter flavor than regular, less dry and coarser caffeinated coffee beans.

While this mild difference may concern you, additives like sugar and cream can easily help overcome any extra bitterness in decaffeinated coffee.

That being said, it is always best to enjoy both brewed drinks without too many additives like sugars, artificial sweeteners, or cream.

Health Benefits

Health benefits may also be a primary concern when it comes to your choice of brewed drink. Fortunately, both cacao and coffee offer some positive effects on your health.

Both are rich in antioxidants, which you may already know can help protect your body against damage from free radicals.

Cacao has also been shown to have positive effects on heart health. It can help improve blood flow to the brain and heart, lower high blood pressure, and prevent blood clots.

Moreover, cacao contains flavanols, which can help improve brain function and reduce cell damage from inflammation or toxins.

On the other hand, coffee can have positive effects on your brain by improving memory and cognitive function.

Caffeine from coffee can also make you more alert, and while this is not exactly a health benefit, it does offer occasional help in certain situations where you need to be attentive.

Coffee has also been linked to a reduced risk of several diseases, including type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and liver disease.

Potential Drawbacks

Of course, there are also some potential drawbacks with both brewed drinks that you should consider as well.

Caffeine from coffee, for example, can interfere with certain medications, and can cause insomnia, anxiety, and jitters in some people as well.

Excessive consumption of caffeine can also lead to dehydration and an increased heart rate, which can be especially harmful for people with heart conditions.

Whereas the biggest potential drawback with cacao is added sugar. Most commercially available cacao drinks contain a significant amount of added sugar and artificial sweeteners.

This extra sweetness can help tone down the bitterness of cacao, but it can also be harmful when consumed excessively.

Moreover, cacao can also interfere with medications, and in some cases, it can be a trigger for migraines in certain people.

The fact remains that too much of a good thing can be bad, so you should always consume brewed drinks in moderation.

Most importantly, consult your healthcare provider about these drinks and how they interact with your health or ongoing medication.

It may just be that your doctor ends up making the decision about which brewed drink is better for you.

If they clear you for both brewed drinks, either can be part of a healthy and balanced diet, as long as you consume it in moderation.

What’s important is that you choose high-quality, natural sources of both drinks and avoid excessive amounts of additives like sugars and artificial sweeteners.


Arguably the most important factor is the sustainability of both brewed drinks.

Both the cacao and coffee beans are grown primarily in developing countries and can have a significant impact on the environment and the livelihoods of local farmers and communities.

Coffee production, in particular, has been associated with mass deforestation, water pollution, and the use of harmful pesticides and fertilizers.

Many coffee farmers also struggle to earn a fair price for their crops, which can contribute to poverty and social inequality.

Cacao production also has similar negative environmental and social impacts as coffee production.

However, cacao trees are shade-grown and require less fertilizer and pesticides than coffee plants, and cacao farmers tend to earn a higher income than coffee farmers.

The scale of cacao production is also a lot smaller than the scale of coffee production, which may give cacao a slight edge in terms of sustainability.

Regardless, the majority of products for both brewed drinks come from exploitative industries, where farmers, forests, water, and the environment are all being negatively impacted.

When choosing between cacao and coffee, do some research and consider the environmental and social impact of each brewed drink.

While the coffee industry may be more damaging to the environment between the two, there are several sustainable companies and options for both brewed drinks to choose from.

Look for cacao and coffee brands that prioritize sustainability, ethical sourcing practices, and fair trade. If possible, you can also look to buy directly from local organic farmers.

If not, always choose to buy Fair Trade or organic products to support the farmers and protect the environment.


Which One Is Better?

Cacao or coffee? Ultimately, the answer boils down to what you are looking for in a brewed drink.

If you want a sweet, rich, and indulgent drink with low caffeine, some brain and heart health benefits, and a lower environmental impact, cacao is a great choice.

Whereas if you want a bolder taste, greater variety of brews, a quick caffeine pick-me-up, and health benefits to reduce the risk of diabetes, Parkinson’s, or liver disease, coffee might just be the way to go.

Both cacao and coffee have their own unique benefits and drawbacks, and it is important to choose the one that best suits your personal needs and preferences.

Wrapping Up

Cacao and coffee are both delicious and nutritious brewed drinks that have their own unique pros and cons.

However, instead of choosing one, you should first ask why you are limiting yourself to just one.

If you have a legitimate reason, the choice should become much simpler, but if you don’t, then we recommend keeping your options open.

Drink both in moderation, avoid added sweeteners, and enjoy the taste and health benefits of both brewed drinks.

Just remember to choose high-quality, natural or organic sources of both from companies that prioritize sustainability, ethical sourcing, and Fair Trade.

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