Is there a real difference between “Cacao” vs. “Cocoa”?

A slight change of letters represents a very major difference. The term “Cacao” is used to represent raw, “uncooked” (cold-processed at below 46°C) cocoa.

The word “Cocoa” is associated with the defatted, alkalized powder form of chocolate invented by the Dutchman Coenraad Van Houten in 1828. Van Houten developed a process to reduce the fat content of cacao, primed it to become ground powder and eventually treated the cocoa powder with alkaline salts (potassium or sodium carbonates) in order to have the powder dissolve well in water. This processing of chocolate became known as “Dutching”, which “cooked” the chocolate, giving it a darker colour and a diluted flavor. Dutching made it possible to create large-scale manufacturing and distribution of cheap chocolate, eventually available to millions of people worldwide in powdered and solid forms.

The nutritional value of Cacao was further lessened with “milk chocolate” as invented due to the efforts of two Swiss men (chemist Henri Nestle and chocolate producer Daniel Peter). In 1867, Nestle developed a process to powder milk via evaporation. Then in 1879, the first milk chocolate bar was produced after Daniel Peter experimented with adding the milk powder to chocolate.

Although generally praised as a great milestone in the evolution of chocolate, it was this addition of powdered milk that blocked the body’s absorption of the healing nutrients of cacao. The occasional person who thinks that he/she has an “allergy” to chocolate is, with the ultra-rare exception, usually allergic to the pasteurized dairy, refined sugar, or caffeine that is in most chocolates. There are known cases of people who considered themselves allergic and had tried raw cacao without any problems.

What makes your organic raw cacao powder superior to other regular cocoa powder, which are easily available in the market?

Our organic raw cacao powder is 100% made from organic cacao beans with absolutely nothing else added. You get the purest of the purest as there is no additives and no preservative added. Our organic raw cacao powder is cold- processed at 44° C, hence it is categorized as raw, meaning the nutrients are not destroyed during processing. It is also certified organic, vegan, dairy free and gluten free.

Why are there sometimes lumping of the organic raw cacao powder inside the canister?

Lumping of the organic cacao powder or drinking chocolate do happen sometimes and the occurrence of lumping usually happen when the powder is not stored in airtight container, away from heat.  Contact with air do cause the possibility of powder lumping.   As with all natural powdered products, if the powder is left unattended at all over the time, the lump may become harder.

Lumping of the powder is a matter of texture and this is not a quality issue.   Anti-caking agent are normally added in powdered products in the commercial market to prevent lumping (see ), however for our range of products, there is zero additives/preservatives, hence this lumping scenario is possible.

General recommendation on storage of the organic raw cacao powder is to store them in air tight container. This is to prevent air contact with the cacao powder surface. Thus, when we store the powder in normal container and as we use the powder (open and close various time throughout some period), air contact will be more so there will be higher possibility of lumping.

Lumping of the organic raw powder in an unopened canister is rare, however if that happens, it is due to the finer texture of the cacao powder along with the high fat content of the powder (approximately 18%-24% fat content) thus, causing the powder to become lumpy. Nevertheless, be assured that this does not have any impact on the quality of the powder.

I used your organic raw cacao powder for baking and noticed that the chocolate taste is not as strong as the regular normal cocoa powder that I can obtain from the bakery supplies store. The colour of your organic raw cacao powder is also lighter in colour comparatively. What are the reasons?

The TRU RA range from Big Tree Farms cacao are cold-processed natural cacao powder unlike the regular cocoa powder.  The milder taste  is generally due to the method of processing.  Big Tree Farms  process the cacao powder using cold-processed method at low temperature – extreme high heat is not used in the cocoa beans roasting.  Normal cocoa powder that you can find in big bakery supply shops are usually darker in colour and has smoother flavor generally due to the cocoa beans have undergone high heat roasting as well as Dutching process (i.e. an alkaline based solution is used to treat the cocoa paste during processing to remove aciditiy and fat content), so the acidity is less in normal cocoa powder.  Some cocoa powder are also darker in colour because of added food colouring.
The normal Dutched cocoa powder can be used in recipes with baking powder (instead of baking soda) for leavening because of the neutral pH and cannot react with baking soda.  So, when using natural, non-Dutched cocoa powder (like the Big Tree Farms organic raw cacao powder), baking soda can be used (because of the higher acidity that is needed to react with baking soda).
Slight bitterness and the higher acidity content (hence less strong chocolate taste) may be observed in baked cakes/pastries etc. that use natural cacao powder and baking soda, so you may need to balance the taste with a suitable sweetener and the right amount of the sweetener/cacao powder.  The positive benefits of using natural cacao powder as compared to Dutch process cocoa is that Dutch process cocoa contains lower amount of antioxidants (flavonols) because even light Dutching process destroys the cocoa’s original antioxidants.

I use your organic raw cacao powder in baking. Should I substitute 1:1 with the regular normal cocoa powder?

Below is a general guide for regular cocoa powder (i.e. Dutched-processed cocoa) vs raw cacao powder (i.e. natural unsweetened/non-alkalized cocoa) substitution in baking:

(i) Dutch-Processed Cocoa:

1 cup = 92 grams

1 cup sifted = 75 grams

(ii) Natural Unsweetened or Non-alkalized Cocoa:

1 cup = 82 grams

Substitution for 3 tablespoons (18 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa:  3 tablespoons (18 grams) natural cocoa powder plus pinch (1/8 teaspoon) baking soda

Substitution for 3 tablespoons (18 grams) natural cocoa:3 tablespoons (18 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa plus 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar or 1/8 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar.

Note: Due to the differences between natural and Dutch-processed cocoa powders, do not substitute one for the other in recipes.

Note: Do not confuse unsweetened natural and Dutch-processed cocoa powder with sweetened cocoa drink mixes. They are not the same thing.


You provided recipes to make my own chocolate. Why should I bother making my own chocolate when they are available all over the supermarkets?

Because you can control what goes inside the chocolate and your mouth! Check the ingredients list of chocolates on the shelves – more often than not, they are loaded with lots of white or cane sugar, dairy products and many other additives. By making your own chocolate, you have the benefits of choosing only the best and the healthiest ingredients when you use organic raw cacao powder, organic raw cacao butter and organic coconut palm nectar. If you love experimenting with food ingredients, chocolate making is fun! If you are busy and prefer buying ready made healthy, low Glycemic chocolates, check out our cold-processed organic chocolates here

Why is organic raw cacao butter a must in making chocolates?

Cacao butter is THE ingredient that gives you the ‘melt-in-your-mouth’ creamy texture which makes chocolate eating absolutely pleasurable!

Why do the organic raw cacao butter has different shades of yellow colour in different packaging? And why are there are some white patches on the cacao butter sometimes?

The organic cacao butter is raw and natural as they are processed under 45°C. The variation in colour of the raw cacao butter may happen, depending on the cacao beans that are being processed.  The manufacturer works with thousands of farmers to source for the organic cacao beans and they originate from different region and soil condition. This leads to the variety of the cacao beans.  Even one cacao tree does not always produce the same shape and colour of the cacao beans. This does not impact the nutrients and effectiveness of the product.

The white patches that sometimes appear is due to fat blooming, possibly as a result of storage condition when the temperature is not ideal or when there is fluctuation of the temperature, but this will not impact the quality nor taste of the cacao butter. The white patches merely appear on the surface of the cacao butter and it is only an appearance due to blooming because the fat crystal were unstable and start to separate and rise, causing the surface to create a whitish coat.

Why do the appearance of Wonder Chocolates bars sometimes look inconsistent – some have holes, look bumpy or rough on the surface of the chocolate bar?

Until today for the Wonder Chocolate range, every bar is hand poured and hand wrapped, therefore we get those inconsistent look of the bars. It is really challenging to make chocolates in an environment that is hot and humid, but the manufacturer is constantly improving. The quality and look of the chocolate bars will improve in the near future due to the fact that the manufacturer plans to change the production flow of the chocolate bars which include keeping them in the same climate zone for all the production phase, including the final packaging.

In future, once the depositor is fully functioning (automatized filling of the molds) and the flow wrapper is working, a lot of inconsistency in the production line will be eliminated. These things take time and the manufacturer and distributor, once again thank each and every of the customers for putting up with the manufacturer’s truly good artisan products.

What is so special about organic coconut palm nectar or organic coconut palm sugar?

It is naturally low on Glycemic Index (GI), which has the benefits of weight control & improving glucose & lipid level in people with diabetes (type 1 & 2). It is rated as GI 35 while by comparison, most commercial agaves are GI 42, honeys are GI 55 and cane sugars are GI 68. Learn more here

Is there a difference between Gula Melaka and coconut sugar/nectar?

There are some differences between Gula Melaka and coconut palm sugar/nectar.  One of them is the species of palm used in the making of the palm sugar.  The 2 common palm species used to make Gula Melaka are Sugar Palm (Arenga pinnata) and Nipah Palm (Nypa fruticans) – both pants are native to Asia including Malaysia.  Arenga pinnata is a tree that can be grown under normal mesic condition (moderate supply of moisture), up to size of a green coconut tree (Cocos nucifera), while Nypa fruticans is a mangrove species and produces underground rootstalks.

In our commercial market, good quality pure Gula Melaka can be identified by digging your nails slightly over the plastic bag – if it is soft, it is good pure quality.  If it is hard, it means it is not pure palm sugar but has been added with other sugar like cane sugar. Just by using a knife, you can easily cut a good pure quality Gula Melaka.

Coconut palm sugar/nectar, on the other hand, is made from Cocos nucifera, the green coconut tree.  Sugar from Cocos nuifera is more expensive than sugars from Arenga pinnata.  Coconut palm nectar/sugar is naturally low GI, which is rated as a GI 35.

What exactly is GI?

In layman’s terms, GI (Glycemic Index) measures how fast and how much a food raises blood glucose levels. It gives you an idea about how fast your body converts the carbohydrates in a food into glucose. Two foods with the same amount of carbohydrates can have different GI numbers. Some foods can make your blood sugar shoot up very fast. The GI gives you a way to tell slower-acting “good carbs” from the faster “bad carbs.” The smaller the number, the less impact the food has on your blood sugar.

  • GI 55 or less = Low (good)
  • GI 56- GI 69 = Medium
  • GI 70 or higher = High (bad)

I noticed that your organic coconut nectar taste different from the previous batch. Why is that so?

The old packaging of the organic coconut nectar was in plastic squeeze bottle and the manufacturer had improvised the packaging by changing them to glass vacuumed-seal bottle. The taste did changed initially to a less sweet and stronger taste as a result of the change of processing method. However, manufacturer always takes initiative to improve the products and with customers’ feedback, they had changed the process to ensure that the taste is improved. Currently, the taste is back to the original more fragrant coconut nectar taste and it is absolutely tasty!

Your product range is on the higher price range. Why is that so and are they really such a premium product range?

Most of the products that we are distributing are raw (not heated above 46°C), i.e. they are cold-processed. We take the initiative to import them into Malaysia via air freight in order to minimise the risk of products heating up during long transit, hence we never use ocean freight.  Cold room storage instruction in airport is also given for each and every freight.  This measure is taken in order to maintain the nutrients of each product.  We believe in raw food science, which prompted us to ensure that the products are not over heated because high heat destroys most of the foods’ nutrients, vitamins, enzymes and minerals according to Max Plank Research Institute (which in turn reduce the potency and effectiveness of the food ingredients). We are very selective of the product range that we distribute, thus only truly good products are brought in. Whenever possible, our products will be organic, vegan, raw, gluten-free, diary-free, low glycemic, non-GMO and fair trade.

Your Maca products are also expensive. What are the reasons?

For our organic raw red and organic raw black maca powder, it is indeed one of the higher value product range in view of the wholesome intensity of the product content within 1 packet – it is organic and raw (not heated above 46°C) from 100% maca root with absolutely zero preservative and zero additives. The build-up of supply chain costs involving logistic, custom clearance, import duty, taxes etc. do add on to the costs. Not forgetting the recent significant price hike in current Peruvian Maca market, the situation is rather devastating to the organic Peruvian Maca suppliers. For information of the development of the Peruvian Maca market, read up the articles on the below links and do take special attention on Maca from China and we advise customers to be cautious of this!

Please click on the link to read about Maca from China, information as shared by our producer supplier.

I experienced indigestion and diarrhea when consuming raw Maca. What should I do?

Some people may experience indigestion with raw maca while others will have no problem at all as everybody is different and reacts differently. Below is what we can recommend to you by modifying the method of consumption:-
Experiment with baking the raw maca for about 15 minutes at around 200 degree Celcius.  This should help on the digestion issue.  However, take note that this may result in loss of enzymes which limits the full absoption of maca and also loss of glucosinolates which contibutes to health promoting properties.  Heating of the raw maca (which we normally advise against, so as to avoid the loss of nutrients & enzymes) may result in removal of the starch content from the maca that causes digestion issues in some people.

What are the differences between red and black maca? Tell me more!

First, Maca roots grow in a three basic ranges of colors 1.) off white to dark cream  roots are commonly called “Yellow” or “Cream”  Maca. 2.) very light pink to darker purple roots are  called “Red” Maca and 3.). very light gray to dark gray are called “Black” Maca.

Second, some customers new to Maca expect Black Maca powder to be black and Red Maca powder to be red.  That is not the case because the color of the roots is primarily found in the skin.  Underneath the skin Maca roots are all an off white color.   (something like a radish is red on the outside but white on the inside).   What that means is that Yellow/Cream, Red and Black Maca powders are all similar in color.  Usually the Red and Black colored powders are a bit darker than the Yellow powders, but this is not always the case as we’ll explain now.

Third, there can be variations of color between different batches of Maca powder.   For example one batch of Black Maca may be darker than another or another batch may be even lighter than Yellow or Cream Maca powder.   This is due to the ratio of light to dark colored roots that are used in making a batch of powder.   Some Black Maca are made with a larger proportion of dark gray roots, thus resulting in a darker colored powder.  Others are made with a larger proportion of very light gray roots, thus resulting in a lighter colored powder.  The same holds true for Red and Yellow Maca too.

Over the years, the producer experienced many variations among the colors of Maca also depending on the given harvest of a year, the exact location of the fields, the environmental conditions of the harvest (drought, extra sunshine, etc.) and more.   The producer works with organic farmers who use traditional methods in their practices and this variation is simply normal, as it is with any organic, GMO-Free crop.

So, please don’t worry if your Maca is lighter or darker than expected.   We can assure you that our bags our packed with precision and accuracy as each type of powder is kept and packed in a different location of the producer’s warehouse.   We also encourage you to try the powder in question and see if the results are similar to what you are accustomed to.

Coco Hydro Sports is made from coconut water which is widely available in Malaysia. I don’t see a need to buy this product in a canister which seems to be expensive!

For Coco Hydro Sports, it is indeed the highest value item within the current range in view of the all wholesome intensity of the product content within 1 canister, i.e. waters from 45 coconuts.  Imagine buying 45 young coconuts in Malaysia – that would cost over RM150, assuming 1 coconut costs RM3.50.  The build-up of supply chain costs involving logistic, custom clearance, import duty, taxes etc. do add on to the costs as well, thus the price is actually not overly exorbitant. Considering the ingredients of the product that do not use chemical preservatives, chemical additives, chemical colourings etc. our health is not compromised because there is no usage of harmful ingredients compared to drinking overly sugared or chemical based electrolyte drinks.

Coco Hydro product is great for people who wants the convenience and immediate availability of coconut water because at times, we just cannot find the fresh coconut water when we want them on the spot.  We also recommend adding Coco Hydro drink mix to smoothies and other beverages for the added nutrients of coconut water.  And of course, to those who are active in sports/fitness and sweats a lot, this is a great healthy replacement for highly-sugared isotonic soft drink.

How is the taste of the Coco Hydro Sports? Can I expect the same fresh coconut water from this canister?

May we humbly remind our esteemed customers so as not to expect the taste of Coco Hydro to be 100% exactly like the fresh coconut water that we get from the fresh coconut.  We would rate it at about 70% equivalence to the actual coconut water and not 100% equivalence because there are other ingredients added to the product, i.e. ascorbic acid (which is Vitamin C with a slight hint of sour taste) that acts as natural preservative (non harmful), ionic trace mineral and non-GMO tapioca glucose that acts as binding agent of the nutrients.  Thus, the taste would not be 100% exactly like the fresh coconut water.  For non-conventional natural foods, it usually takes 2-3 times (or more) trying of a new product to gain acceptance to our taste bud.

What does “chelated minerals” mean?

Chelated minerals are naturally bound to other co-factor minerals, which means the body can more easily absorb them (98% absorption rate versus only 2% for the same synthetic ratio!) Ultimately it means you avoid the dreaded “gut rot” which means you get to be a lot more sporty.

What is “electrolytes”?

Electrolytes are chemical elements or minerals such as sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium. It is the ionized or ionizable constituents of a living cell, blood, or other organic matter.

Why are electrolytes important to me?

Electrolytes are important because they are what your cells (especially nerve, heart, muscle) use to maintain voltages across their cell membranes and to carry electrical impulses (nerve impulses, muscle contractions) across themselves and to other cells. Your kidney works to keep the electrolyte concentrations in your blood constant despite changes in your body. For example, when you exercise heavily, you lose electrolytes in your sweat, particularly sodium and potassium. These electrolytes must be replaced to keep the electrolyte concentrations of your body fluids constant. Another example where electrolytes are important is when children have chronic vomiting or diarrhea (perhaps due to intestinal flu viruses) causing them to lose electrolytes.   These electrolytes and the fluids must be replaced to prevent dehydration and seizures.

What is the difference between COCO HYDRO SPORT and other sports drink in the market?

Commercially, a lot of sports drinks have sodium chloride or potassium chloride added to them. They also have added sugar and flavorings to provide your body with extra energy and to make the drink taste better. Synthetic food colorings are also widely used for the fruits-flavored sports drink. COCO HYDRO SPORT is free from all these additives and hence it is naturally healthy.

Where are your products from?

Big Tree Farms: This is a US company, founded in July 2003, that manufactures premium organic raw cacao (cocoa) products and organic coconut palm sweetener amongst others. Their products have great demand in the US and Europe market. The founder of the company, Ben Ripple fell in love with the magical island of Bali, Indonesia in 2000 and eventually set up their factory there together with business partner, Frederick Schilling. The company works with thousands of local farmers who are trained as certified internal control inspectors for the organic program. Today, Big Tree Farms is one of the most respected vertically integrated food companies, serving their 14,000+ farmer partners and millions of customer worldwide, each with great passion and sincerity.

The Maca Team: The company was founded by Mark Ament, based in Colorado, US in 1999. Mark tried many brands of Maca powder and discovered a wide variety of quality, consistency and potency – some worked really well while others had little to no effect. This was due to where and how the roots were grown, processed and stored. In 2003, Mark finally found the right Maca in terms of quality, taste, freshness and efficacy – it comes from a small organic farming co-operative located in Junin, Peru and started selling the Peruvian superfood publicly since then. The great success and high demand of their Maca powder was a proof of dedication to uncompromised quality.

What is the correct way to store the products and what if I don’t follow the recommended storage method? *IMPORTANT. PLEASE READ*

Do remember that ALL our products are truly wholesome and natural, without preservatives nor additives, hence the correct way to store the products after opening is to keep them in airtight container, away from sunlight and heat and to store them inside refrigerator in order to prolong the freshness and shelve life of the products. Keeping the products in room temperature does not necessarily mean the products will turn bad or spoilt quickly, but it does mean that eventually after some time, the freshness of the products could be affected. For example, keeping the organic raw cacao sweet nibs outside after opening and without airtight container may cause the sweet nibs to loose its crunchiness after some time although the nibs are not spoilt. Organic coconut nectar may be naturally fermented (taste may be affected although the product is not spoilt) after some time, if you do not keep them in the fridge.   Organic raw maca powder may be oxidized, causing change in colour and taste if you do not keep the opened packet inside the refrigerator. For chocolates, the ideal storage is airtight container with temperature 15°C to 18°C and relative humidity below 50%, however it may not be easy to have access to such specific environmental condition for storage, so the best alternative is to keep them in cool, dry, dark place with air-tight containers. Bear in mind that our climate in Malaysia is HOT & HUMID, thus it is important to take preventive measures to ensure that the products are stored properly in order to maintain the quality and freshness of the products