Is there a difference between Cocoa and Cacao aside from the vowels? Yes! Yes, there is. The true difference is in the way in which it is processed.
Both Cocoa and Cacao come from the same source: The Theobroma Cacao tree. It is once the beans are picked, and then how they are processed, that determines whether they are cocoa or cacao.
To put it simply, heat is what makes the big difference. Cocoa has been processed at a much higher heat than Cacao, which in turn reduces its nutritional values. When you think about it, it’s a lot like all raw foods. The less cooked they are, the better they are for you.
You may also notice the difference in flavour between the two; Cacao has a bitterness that seems to be an acquired taste as it is in its most natural form, whereas Cocoa tends to be sweeter as a result of the beans being roasted at a much higher temperature . Dutch Cocoa is even sweeter because it goes through an additional process with an Alkaline Solution.
Just remember to always read the labels, you will find that some pre-packaged Cocoa consist of added sugar and milk powders.
But I hope you can rest easy now that you know why Cocoa isn’t Cacao.