Raw Cacao Beans - How are they Different
from Raw Cacao Nibs?

The question about raw cacao beans came with an acknowledgement of an email I sent about an earlier post.


Hi Janis,

Thanks for your reply. Now I understand why there is a difference in the tastes. I have tried the nibs before and found them tasting closer to the milk chocolate I'm used to than the bean or powder which are more bitter.

Is there a difference between the nibs and the whole bean with the skin on because I found that the bean was still more bitter then the nibs were. I did buy them from the same place so presume that they are from the same source. So basically, what you are saying is it's the butter that makes the difference in each of these forms? Also looking forward to your extended reply.


For earlier post go to Cacao Nibs and Cacao Powder and the extended reply at Why Cacao Nibs


Hi Steve,

That's right - I just went and checked my nibs and they are a little sweet, with a very faint bitter taste. Then checked the cacao powder and definitely bitter.

I don't have any raw cacao beans on hand but I do remember what they taste like with the skins on. They were definitely bitter. I remember peeling the beans and they lost most of that bitter taste. They usually broke into little pieces (nibs) as I peeled them.

When you watch the video on "Why Cacao Nibs" (link above), you can see how the nibs are separated from the skins.

Question (taken from Steve's question above)

"So basically, what you are saying is it's the butter that makes the difference in each of these forms?"

My answer

That's right... the raw cacao bean may start out very mildly bitter after the fermentation process.

The cacao bean contains a tremendous amount of elements. The cacao oil is not bitter. So If you can imagine taking all the oil out of the bean, the bitter elements would be more noticeable. They are no longer hidden or neutralized by the oils.

I've observed grinding raw cacao nibs into fine granules and then adding shredded raw cacao butter (the hardened cacao oil) into the blender. The cacao butter does not mix in with the nib granules - they remain separate. Remember the cacao butter is not bitter. The nibs are a little sweet and only very mildly bitter.

But when I add the bitter cacao powder to the blender, the cacao butter and the powder get back together. The bitterness of the mixture will begin to become more evident as you add more and more cacao powder.

I've never worked out how to duplicate the quantity of raw cacao powder to raw cacao butter to get it to taste like the raw cacao bean. I'm more interested in balancing all my ingredients to get the taste I want. I also use coconut oil in my recipes. But you can see how the cacao powder interacts with the cacao butter to end up being more or less bitter in the mix.

Thanks again for these great questions.



Please feel free to email me if you have questions or comments. I am always happy to respond.

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And... If you missed the earlier post go to...

Cacao Nibs and Cacao Powder

and for the extended reply...

Go to Why Cacao Nibs from Raw Cacao Beans