Are Coffee and Chocolate Related?

Are Coffee and Chocolate Related?

Coffee and chocolate are both popular foods that people use as beverages and for baking purposes. Both come from beans and are processed similarly. But are coffee and chocolate related? Read on and let us get to know the similarities and differences of these two famous items. 

Are coffee and chocolate related?

No, coffee and chocolate are not related and they are different on many levels although in a sense they seem to be related since they both need some level of roasting and both are fermented and dried. However, they both come from different plants and originated from different areas of the world. Coffee and chocolate also have their similarities and differences.

Here are the similarities between coffee and chocolate:

1. They both have a long history. 

Chocolate’s beginnings date to as far back as 1700 BC. Its earliest evidence dates back to the Mokaya people of the Soconusco Region of Mexico as well as the Aztecs and Mayans of South America. Coffee is said to have been discovered by Ethiopian goat herders way back 200 AD. It is native to Ethiopia, Yemen and Africa. It was first used as a beverage during the 15th century in Africa.

2. They both thrive in warm and tropical climates.

Coffee and chocolate can grow anywhere but they tend to prefer warmer climates.  Tropical regions like Africa, Asia and South America are ideal for cultivating coffee and cacao that becomes chocolate. Mexico and Ecuador have geographic and climatic conditions that are perfect for growing coffee and cacao. 

3. They both have complex flavors. 

Coffee and chocolate are similar in that they both have complex flavors. For coffee, the complexities are due to the roasting process and the combination of multiple beans to create distinctive profiles. For chocolate, the complex flavor is derived from the choice of beans and the fermentation process. While we acknowledge that both are delicious, some dedicated experts can identify the flavor complexities of coffee and chocolate. 

Here are the differences of coffee and chocolate:

1. They differ in their taste.

Chocolate or cocoa has a more bitter and intense taste while coffee has a rich and earthy taste but darker roasts also tend to be bitter.  The taste of coffee which is either bland or strong is determined by the roasting level. Some coffee beans may even have chocolaty undertones and an acidic taste. 

2. They differ in the number of calories. 

Coffee beans have almost zero calories while cocoa beans tend to be rich in calories. Coffee alone does not make you gain weight but it is mainly due to the syrups, sugar and milk that are placed in coffee-based drinks. 

3. They differ in their antioxidant content. 

Cocoa beans tend to have higher antioxidant content compared to coffee beans but when they are processed into beverages, coffee tends to have a more pronounced antioxidant activity. Research shows that coffee has a stronger antioxidant activity compared to cocoa or chocolate on a cup-serving basis. Nevertheless, cocoa also has antioxidants like flavonoids and procyanidins.

Is cocoa powder and coffee powder the same?

No, they are not the same but they share the same powder-ish texture. However, coffee powder is deep brown and may even be reddish while cocoa powder looks lighter, much like light brown. 

Types of coffee beans and chocolate or cocoa beans 

These are the types of coffee beans:

  • Arabica – This is often grown in North America, has a sweet and delicate taste and less acidic. 
  • Robusta – This type is often grown in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. It has a strong and harsh flavor with high caffeine levels.
  • Liberica – This type is usually grown in specific climates, has a woody taste and its aroma is described as that of fruits and flowers. 
  • Excelsa – This type is a member of the Liberica family that is usually found in Southeast Asia. It has a fruitier flavor compared to the other types.

These are the types of cocoa beans:

  • Forastero – This type is the most used and most popular one. It has a strong and earthy flavor and accounts for almost 90% of the whole cocoa production.
  • Criollo –  This type is considered the rare one and accounts for only 3% of the world’s cocoa production. It has a strong aroma with a low level of bitterness which makes it ideal for making the finest chocolates. 
  • Trinitario – This type is a  high yield one like Forastero and has the refined taste of Criollo. It is referred to as a hybrid Forastero and Criollo bean.


Coffee and chocolate are essential and popular beverages. They are not related because they come from different plant species but they have many similarities.  Both of them go through a degree of roasting, they are both fermented and dried and they grow well in tropical areas. However, they are also different because they differ in taste, antioxidant content and amount of calories.

Image: / EugeneTomeev