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Brewed Cacao vs Coffee: Which is the Healthier Choice?

Coffee is the world’s most popular brewed beverage. Cacao, on the other hand, has been primarily consumed as a chocolate bar or hot chocolate drink.

But did you know that cacao can also be brewed like coffee to make a flavorful, healthy beverage? Brewed cacao provides a number of health benefits and has a distinct taste and aroma that sets it apart from coffee.

In this article, we’ll explore the origins of brewed cacao, the differences between cacao and coffee, and the benefits of drinking brewed cacao. What is Brewed Cacao?

Brewed cacao is a beverage made by steeping cacao beans in hot water, similar to how coffee is made. However, unlike coffee, brewed cacao is not roasted, but rather the cacao beans are fermented, dried, and ground into a powder.

The powder is then mixed with water and steeped like tea. The resulting beverage has a distinct bitter taste with notes of sweetness and cocoa flavor.

Brewed cacao can be served hot or cold and is often enjoyed with a splash of milk or sweetener.

History of Brewed Cacao

Brewed cacao has a long history that dates back to the Aztecs and Mayans of Central America around 1500 BC. The Aztecs and Mayans believed that cacao had magical and medicinal properties, and they used it in religious ceremonies and as a form of currency.

They would grind the cacao beans into a paste and mix it with water to make a beverage called xocolatl, which means “bitter water.” The drink was often flavored with spices such as cinnamon, chili, and vanilla to make it more palatable.

Cacao Bean Varieties

There are three main varieties of cacao beans: Forastero, Trinitario, and Criollo. Forastero is the most common type of cacao bean, accounting for around 80% of the world’s production.

It has a strong flavor and is known for its high productivity and disease resistance. Trinitario is a hybrid bean that was developed by crossbreeding Forastero and Criollo beans.

It has a more complex flavor profile and is often used to make high-quality chocolate. Criollo is a rare type of cacao bean that is known for its delicate flavor and low productivity.

It is often used to make gourmet chocolate due to its unique aroma and taste. Brewed Cacao vs Coffee: Differences

Beans Used

The primary difference between brewed cacao and coffee is the beans used to make the beverage. Brewed cacao is made from cacao beans, whereas coffee is made from coffee beans.

Cacao beans are usually fermented and dried before being roasted and ground into a powder. Coffee beans, on the other hand, are roasted before being ground into a powder.

Taste Comparison

Another major difference between brewed cacao and coffee is the taste. Brewed cacao has a bitter taste with notes of sweetness and cocoa flavor.

It is not as acidic as coffee and has a smoother taste. Coffee has a bitter taste that is often accompanied by a burnt flavor.

It is also more acidic, which can cause issues for people with acid reflux or stomach irritation.

Caffeine Content

Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee and cacao that provides a boost of energy and alertness. However, brewed cacao has less caffeine than coffee.

While a cup of coffee typically contains around 70-140 milligrams of caffeine, a cup of brewed cacao contains only about 20 milligrams. Instead, brewed cacao contains a compound called theobromine, which is also a stimulant but has a gentler effect on the body.

Side Effects

Drinking coffee can cause side effects such as jitters, anxiety, and insomnia due to its high caffeine content. Brewed cacao, on the other hand, has a lower caffeine content and is less likely to cause these side effects.

However, it does contain theobromine, which can cause issues if consumed in large amounts. Theobromine can cause nausea, vomiting, and heart palpitations.

Acidity

Coffee is a highly acidic beverage with a pH level of around 5, which can cause stomach irritation and acid reflux in some people. Brewed cacao, on the other hand, has a pH level of around 6.2, which is less acidic than coffee and less likely to cause these issues.

Benefits of Drinking Brewed Cacao

Antioxidants

Cacao is rich in antioxidants, which are compounds that protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals can lead to chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.

The high concentration of antioxidants in cacao makes brewed cacao a healthy beverage choice.

Mood Enhancement

Theobromine, found in brewed cacao, can provide a gentle mood-enhancing effect. Theobromine increases the production of serotonin and dopamine, two neurotransmitters that are responsible for feelings of happiness and well-being.

Drinking brewed cacao can help improve your mood and reduce stress levels.

Good for Heart Health

Brewed cacao contains flavanols, which are compounds that help to improve blood flow and reduce inflammation in the body. A regular intake of flavanols has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Conclusion

Brewed cacao is a healthy and flavorful alternative to coffee. Although it has a bitter taste, it provides a number of health benefits that make it worth trying.

The origins of brewed cacao date back to ancient Central American cultures, and its distinct taste and aroma continue to captivate modern-day drinkers. While there are differences between cacao and coffee, both have their unique qualities.

It’s up to the individual to decide which beverage they prefer, but brewed cacao is definitely worth considering. Brewed Cacao vs Coffee: Preparation

While brewed cacao and coffee have much in common, the methods of preparation are entirely different.

The preparation method used for each beverage can greatly affect the taste, caffeine content, and potential health benefits.

Methods of Preparation

Brewed cacao can be prepared using various methods, including the AeroPress, French press, pour-over, Chemex, cold brew, and Moka pot. The AeroPress is a brewing method that uses pressure to extract the flavor from the beans.

The French press is a simple, classic technique that involves steeping the beans in hot water and then using a plunger to separate the grounds from the liquid. Pour-over and Chemex are methods that use a paper filter to strain the brewed cacao, resulting in a clean and clear liquid.

Cold brew involves steeping the cacao beans in cold water for several hours, resulting in a smooth and mellow flavor. The Moka pot is a stovetop brewing device that uses steam to extract the flavor from the beans.

Similarly, coffee can be prepared using various methods, including the automatic drip machine, French press, pour-over, Chemex, and cold brew. Each method can affect the taste and caffeine content of the final product.

Flexibility and Availability

Brewed cacao is not as widely available as coffee. While there are many brands of brewed cacao available online, in supermarkets, and in specialty stores, it can be challenging to find brewed cacao in coffee shops and restaurants.

On the other hand, coffee is ubiquitous and readily available in coffee shops, restaurants, and supermarkets. Additionally, instant coffee is an option for those who want a quick and convenient cup of coffee without the hassle of brewing.

Price

The price of brewed cacao and coffee varies depending on the brand, quality, and preparation method used. Some brands of brewed cacao, such as Crio Bru, can be more expensive than coffee due to the higher quality of the beans and the more complex preparation method.

However, other brands of brewed cacao, such as Kauai Coffee, can be much less expensive than specialty coffee brands.

Calories

For those concerned about calorie intake, the method of preparation can play a significant role. Brewed cacao itself contains few calories, but the addition of milk, sweeteners, and other additives can increase the calorie count.

Similarly, coffee itself is low in calories, but the addition of cream, sugar, and other flavorings can significantly increase the calorie count. Which is Better for Whom?

When it comes to caffeine sensitivity or a heart condition, brewed cacao may be a better option than coffee. Brewed cacao has less caffeine than coffee and may be gentler on the heart.

Additionally, the lower acidity of brewed cacao may be beneficial for those with acid reflux. Those on a budget may prefer coffee, which is more widely available and often less expensive than brewed cacao.

For weight loss, both brewed cacao and coffee can be suitable, but it is important to be aware of the calorie count when adding milk, sweeteners, and other additives. Both brewed cacao and coffee have potential health benefits, and the choice between the two ultimately depends on personal preference, needs, and lifestyle.

In conclusion, both brewed cacao and coffee have their unique characteristics, and the method of preparation can greatly affect the taste and potential health benefits. While brewed cacao is not as widely available as coffee, it offers a number of health benefits and a distinct flavor profile that makes it worth trying.

For those looking for a low-caffeine and low-acid alternative to coffee, brewed cacao is an excellent option to consider. Ultimately, the choice between brewed cacao and coffee comes down to personal preference and lifestyle needs.

Brewed cacao and coffee may seem similar, but they have unique characteristics that make each beverage distinct. Brewed cacao has been enjoyed for centuries and offers a number of health benefits, such as being rich in antioxidants, mood enhancement, and good for heart health.

The method of preparation greatly affects the taste and potential health benefits of both brewed cacao and coffee. When it comes to caffeine sensitivity, heart condition, acid reflux, budget, and weight loss, the choice between brewed cacao and coffee ultimately depends on personal preference and lifestyle needs.

Regardless of the choice, the important takeaway is to enjoy the beverage in moderation and be mindful of the calorie intake when adding milk, sweeteners, and other additives.

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