Last updated: August 9, 2021

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Welcome to our big cocoa powder test 2019. Here we present you all the cocoa powders we tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information for you and also added a summary of customer reviews on the internet.

With this, we want to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best cocoa powder for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should be aware of if you want to buy cocoa powder.




Summary

  • Cocoa powder is made from cocoa beans. These are fermented, roasted, de-oiled and finely ground.
  • Cocoa powders differ mainly in their sugar and fat content.
  • Cocoa powder is used in drinks, pastries, desserts and other foods. It gives these a chocolaty note and the typical brown colour.

The Best Cocoa Powder: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying cocoa powder

What is cocoa powder?

Cocoa powder is partially defatted and powdered cocoa mass. By definition, cocoa powder consists only of cocoa and has no other additives. However, in common parlance, powdered cocoa with various additions is also called cocoa powder.

The best-known type of cocoa powder is instant cocoa powder, also called cocoa-containing drink powder, which is used to prepare the cocoa drink. In addition to instant cocoa powder, there is also baking cocoa powder and pure and raw cocoa powder.

Cocoa powder consists of finely ground cocoa beans. It is mainly used in the food sector. (Image source: pixabay.com / TinaKirk)

Cocoa powder has a different fat content, which influences its quality and taste. In addition, cocoa powder can be pure or have additives such as sugar, salt, minerals and vitamins.

Most commonly, cocoa powder is used in the preparation of drinks and food. Cocoa powder dissolves well in water or milk and can be processed with other ingredients.

Did you know that the first cocoa drink was prepared by the indigenous people of Mexico?

The Aztecs, Mayans and other indigenous peoples of Mexico were very fond of cocoa. To prepare the drink, the cocoa beans were infused with water and additionally spiced with hot pepper, vanilla and honey.

This drink, also called "xocolatl", has a bitter-hot taste and was initially unpopular with the colonialists. Only when sugar was added did it gain popularity. This eventually led to the invention of chocolate.

How can I use cocoa powder?

Cocoa powder is used in a number of foods and drinks. It gives them a chocolaty taste and the typical brown colour.

For example, cocoa powder can be used to prepare the following:

  • Hot chocolate or drinking cocoa
  • Chocolate cakes, biscuits, muffins
  • Chocolate cream and other chocolate desserts
  • Coffees with a chocolaty note

Cocoa powder is most often used to prepare drinking cocoa or hot chocolate. The cocoa powder is mixed with hot or cold milk. The drink can be flavoured with cinnamon, vanilla or caramel or decorated with marshmallows or sprinkles.

Drinking cocoa can also be mixed with soy milk, rice milk, almond milk or other milk alternatives. Water can also be used for the preparation, or the milk is diluted with water. The taste is of course different from milk cocoa and can take some getting used to.

Cocoa powder is often used in baking. There is special baking cocoa powder that is unsweetened and particularly suitable for pastries and desserts. Baking cocoa is often found in recipes of chocolaty desserts.

Furthermore, cocoa powder is used in the preparation of some coffee drinks. It is either stirred into the coffee or sprinkled on the drink as a garnish.

What is contained in cocoa powder?

Pure cocoa powder consists only of powdered cocoa. Depending on how it is processed, it can be more or less deoiled, so the fat content varies. The degree to which the cocoa beans are roasted also influences the ingredients.

Raw cocoa contains about 300 different ingredients. Among other things, cocoa contains the following:

11 - 30 % fat (depending on the oil removal)
11.5 % protein
9 % cellulose
5 % water
2.6 % minerals
Vitamins
Trace elements

Other ingredients depend on the type of cocoa powder and their additives. In addition to cocoa, instant cocoa powder typically contains sugar, milk powder, dextrose, emulsifiers, phosphates, folic acid, salt, vitamins and flavourings.

Is cocoa powder healthy?

Whether cocoa powder is healthy is not so easy to answer. The cocoa bean is considered a superfood, but through industrial processing it loses many of its positive properties. How healthy cocoa powder is depends on how it has been processed and what additives it contains.

Cocoa has many ingredients that can have a positive effect on our health. Besides large amounts of magnesium, potassium and vitamin E, it also contains zinc, iron and many other vitamins and minerals. Cocoa has a positive effect on blood pressure and improves the cardiovascular system. In addition, it promotes the ability to concentrate, memory and has a mood-lifting and antidepressant effect.

The situation is different with industrially processed instant cocoa powder from the supermarket. Highly deoiled, low-quality cocoa is used in its production. In addition, many additives, especially sugar, are added. This powder is therefore very high in sugar and also high in calories.

Katja Tölle and Kai ThomasÖkotest editorial team

Instant cocoa powders that have been tested for sugar as well as cocoa content and other ingredients only score mediocre.

Besides the high sugar content, contamination with mineral oil components, which were found in some powders, are of particular concern. These substances can get into the cocoa during transport or processing.

Mineral oil components found in cocoa powder are mainly saturated hydrocarbons (MOSH). In animal experiments, these chemicals have damaged organs. (Source: oekotest.de)

If you want to eat healthy cocoa powder, you should choose an unsweetened and lightly de-oiled raw cocoa powder.

How many calories are in cocoa powder?

How many calories cocoa powder has depends on how much the cocoa powder has been de-oiled and what other additives it has. Pure cocoa powder has 200 to 400 kcal per 100 grams, depending on the fat content.

Sweetened cocoa powder or industrially processed instant cocoa powder has about 350 kcal per 100 grams. The cocoa itself is highly de-oiled and thus rather low in calories. So most of the calories come from the sugar. Additives such as milk powder can also increase the calorie value.

Can I eat cocoa powder if I have a nut allergy?

Allergies to the cocoa bean are very rare. In most cases, it is the added substances that cause allergies, not the cocoa itself. Cocoa powder does not usually contain other types of nuts. If there are other nuts in the powder, it is marked accordingly on the packaging.

However, you should be aware that during the production of cocoa powder, the product may come into contact with nut products. You will find information about this on the packaging.

If you are sensitive to nuts, you should be careful because cocoa powder may contain traces of nuts.

Cocoa powder and diabetes?

Cocoa has a good effect on our health and can be especially beneficial for diabetics. Cocoa powder can stimulate the circulatory system and have a positive effect on the liver, kidneys and other organs.

It is particularly noteworthy that cocoa beans contain a large amount of the active ingredient flavonol. This can protect against arteriosclerosis and prevent insulin resistance.

However, ordinary instant cocoa powder has a high sugar content. Diabetics should therefore use sugar-free cocoa powder and sweeten it themselves if necessary.

Which cocoa powder is of good quality?

The quality of cocoa powder depends on several factors. The variety, the fat content, the processing, the additives and the ease of use play an important role, among other things.

In the following section, we would like to take a closer look at these characteristics and highlight the peculiarities of cocoa powder. In the section on buying criteria, you will find further information on how to evaluate cocoa powder.

What types of cocoa are there?

There are thousands of cocoa varieties, which are mainly the result of cross-breeding and breeding. There are three basic types of cocoa. We would like to briefly introduce these in the following table:

Variety Description
Forastero This variety is considered a consumer cocoa, as it accounts for 80% of cocoa cultivation. It has an intense, bitter-sour taste and is very robust.
Criollo This variety is considered the best fine flavoured cocoa as it is mild and aromatic in taste. In pure form, this variety is rarely found, as it is very sensitive and cultivation is difficult.
Trinitatio This variety is a natural cross between Forastero and Criollo. It is considered a noble cocoa, has a strong taste and is very aromatic.

What is deoiled (defatted) cocoa powder?

In the production of cocoa powder, the cocoa mass is deoiled. Cocoa mass has a natural fat content of about 40%. It is necessary to reduce this to below 30%, otherwise the mass cannot be processed into powder.

We have summarised the properties and the advantages and disadvantages of weakly and strongly deoiled cocoa powder in the following table:

Degree of deoiling Fat content Properties
Strongly deoiled 11 to 14% Strongly deoiled cocoa powder mixes very well with other ingredients without forming lumps. It is low in calories, but at the same time more treated, less aromatic and comparatively low in nutrients. It is often found in instant or baked cocoa and is inexpensive.
Weakly deoiled 22 to 24% Weakly deoiled cocoa powder is very aromatic and intense in flavour. It is less soluble and sometimes needs to be heated to be mixed with other ingredients. It is high in nutrients and calories and retains the positive characteristics of cocoa butter. This cocoa powder is considered to be of very high quality and is more expensive in terms of price.

The degree to which the powder is deoiled is rarely directly described on the packaging. However, you can determine it from the fat content in the nutritional value table.

All cocoa powder is deoiled to a certain degree. The higher the fat content, the more refined, aromatic and expensive the cocoa powder.

How is cocoa powder processed?

The cocoa mass is processed into powder in a complex process. In addition to de-oiling (degreasing), roasting is an important step.

Cocoa powder is processed industrially. Depending on how it is treated, quality and taste can be influenced. (Image source: pixabay.com / gate74)

Cocoa beans are roasted at high temperatures. This process develops the flavours and brown colour. Bacteria and germs are also killed. However, the heat can cause valuable minerals, vitamins and trace elements to be lost.

Cocoa powder that has never been heated above 45 °C is called raw cocoa. In terms of taste, it differs only slightly from the roasted variety. However, it is more nutritious and therefore healthier.

Raw cocoa powder is especially interesting for those who eat a raw food diet and value such products.

What additives are in cocoa powder?

Various additives are often added to cocoa powder. These are intended to improve the taste and nutritional value of the powder or to extend its shelf life. These additives are, for example, sugar, flavours, minerals, acidity regulators and stabilisers. They are mainly found in instant cocoa or baking cocoa powder.

Pure cocoa powder is cocoa powder without any additives. Pure cocoa powder is rarely found in supermarkets. However, it is available in many varieties in the food section of drugstores, in health food shops, special shops or online.

Which cocoa powder is particularly easy to use?

Instant cocoa powder is particularly easy to use. Normally, it only needs to be stirred in warm or cold liquid. It has many additives, is very soluble and is excellent for making drinking cocoa and other desserts.

Instant cocoa powder or cocoa beverage powder is the most widely used cocoa powder and can be found in almost every supermarket. It is characterised by the variety of products and the favourable price.

Did you know that instant cocoa powder has more sugar than cocoa?

Instant cocoa powder and other beverage powders containing cocoa, which are used to prepare the ever-popular cocoa drink, consist of 20% sugar. This makes the calorie value skyrocket. 100 grams of instant cocoa powder has 360 to 380 kcal!

Which cocoa powder should I use for what?

The type of cocoa powder you need depends on what you want to do with the powder. Mainly you will use cocoa powder for the following:

  • Drinking cocoa
  • Baking and desserts
  • Coffee

Cocoa powder for drinking

You can make drinking cocoa from any cocoa powder. The most commonly used is instant cocoa powder. With this powder, the cocoa drink can be prepared particularly easily and quickly.

In most cases, it is simply mixed with warm or cold milk. Some varieties contain milk powder and are infused with hot water.

Hot cocoa is a popular drink in the wintertime. However, it can also be prepared cold and be refreshing. (Image source: pixabay.com / TerriC)

Instant cocoa powder contains cocoa, sugar, salt, vitamins and other additives. It is highly de-oiled and therefore particularly soluble. Unlike other cocoa powder products, it does not need to be sweetened or boiled.

If you use pure cocoa powder, you will have to sweeten it. Depending on the fat content and processing, pure cocoa powder may be less soluble. When preparing drinking cocoa from pure cocoa powder, the cocoa should be boiled so that it can dissolve and the flavour can develop.

Preparing cocoa drinks from pure cocoa powder is more complicated. But the cocoa tastes particularly good.

Cocoa powder for baking and desserts

You can use any cocoa powder for baking and desserts. Recipes usually indicate which cocoa powder has been used.

Usually, baking cocoa powder is meant. Baking cocoa powder is unsweetened, but may have other additives, such as solubility and flavour enhancers.

If you use already sweetened powder, you will generally need less sugar. Pure cocoa powder, on the other hand, is intense and can taste bitter, sharp or sour. It is therefore advisable to use this powder sparingly.

The fat content is also crucial. Cocoa powder with a high fat content can form lumps and must be partially warmed so that it can be mixed with the other ingredients. The fat in the recipe, e.g. the amount of oil or butter, should be adjusted in this case.

Depending on the powder you use and what additives it contains, you should be careful when preparing it. You may need to adjust the amount of fat and sugar.

Cocoa powder for coffee

You can use any cocoa powder for coffee. Depending on how sweet you like it, you can use sweetened instant cocoa powder or unsweetened cocoa powder.

If you want to use cocoa for sprinkling, you should use sugar-free cocoa powder. The sugar in cocoa powder can cause the milk foam to break down.

How much does cocoa powder cost?

How much cocoa powder costs depends on the type of product. Instant cocoa powder for drinking cocoa or baking cocoa for desserts costs only a few euros in the supermarket. If you want to buy pure or raw cocoa powder, the prices are different.

The price of pure cocoa powder is often quoted in euros per kilogram (€/kg). The cheapest powder is available from around €13/kg, while more expensive varieties cost €30 or even €40/kg.

What are the alternatives to cocoa powder?

There are several alternatives to cocoa powder. Which one is right for you depends on how you want to use cocoa powder.

Alternatives to cocoa powder for drinking

If you want to make cocoa or hot chocolate, you can use other ready-made products besides cocoa powder. There are a variety of powdered drinks with and without cocoa that can be used to make delicious drinks.

Drinking cocoa can also be made with normal chocolate. However, the preparation is a little more difficult. The chocolate must be melted and the milk must be brought to the boil to make the drink.

Alternatives for cocoa powder for baking and desserts

If you want to substitute baking cocoa powder in the recipe, you can use baking chocolate, couverture or regular chocolate. To prepare the chocolate, it must first be grated, melted or otherwise processed.

Depending on which alternative you choose, you may need to adjust the recipe and other ingredients slightly. In particular, note that chocolate usually has a different sugar and fat content.

Alternatives for cocoa powder for coffee

If you want to use cocoa powder in coffee, melted chocolate can be an alternative. However, the chocolate can significantly change the consistency and the sugar and fat content of the coffee.

If you use cocoa powder for sprinkling, you can replace it with ground coffee. However, as coffee is bitter, you should use it sparingly so that the taste of the drink does not change too much.

Decision: What types of cocoa powder are there and which is right for you?

If you want to buy cocoa powder, you have a very wide choice. To make your choice easier, we would like to introduce you to the different types of cocoa powder. Cocoa powder can basically be divided into the following categories:

  • Raw (unroasted) cocoa powder
  • Pure cocoa powder
  • Baking cocoa
  • Instant cocoa powder

What is raw cacao powder and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Raw cocoa powder is cocoa powder that has not been roasted and therefore has raw food quality. It also has no other additives. It is considered particularly nutritious and healthy.

Advantages
  • No additives
  • Raw food quality
  • Particularly rich in nutrients
Disadvantages
  • Expensive
  • Only found in special shops
  • Taste difference

What is pure cocoa powder and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Pure cocoa powder is cocoa powder without any additives. It is roasted and often only lightly de-oiled, and is therefore considered to be particularly aromatic and of high quality.

Advantages
  • No additives
  • Intense and aromatic
  • High quality
  • Versatile
Disadvantages
  • Expensive
  • Only found in special shops
  • Sometimes difficult to use

What is baking cocoa and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Baking cocoa is cocoa powder that is particularly suitable for the preparation of pastries and desserts. It usually has no or very little sugar. Some types of baking cocoa are pure, while others contain various additives such as acidity regulators or flavourings. The degree of deoiling varies, but is usually around 14%.

Advantages
  • Few additives
  • Easy to use
Disadvantages
  • Partly only suitable for baking
  • Heavily processed

What is instant cocoa powder and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Instant cocoa powder is primarily used to make drinking cocoa. Besides cocoa, sugar, salt, vitamins, stabilisers and other additives are added. It is highly de-oiled and thus particularly easy to dissolve in milk and water.

Advantages
  • Added sweeteners and vitamins
  • Very easy to use
  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to obtain
Disadvantages
  • High in calories
  • High in sugar
  • Quality of product often low
  • Highly industrially processed

Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate cocoa powder based on these factors

Roasting

The cocoa beans are roasted when they are processed into powder. This process enhances the aromas and also the colour. However, the heat can cause valuable ingredients in the cocoa beans to be lost.

By treating the beans gently and not heating them above 45 °C, the cocoa can retain its raw food quality. Raw cocoa differs slightly in taste and nutrient content.

The biggest difference, however, is found in the price. Since raw cocoa tastes little different from roasted cocoa, this characteristic is especially important for raw foodists.

Deoiling and fat content

Cocoa powders differ in fat content. This can be used to determine the degree of deoiling.

Highly deoiled cocoa powder is the most common variety. Weakly deoiled cocoa powder, on the other hand, is considered to be of particularly high quality. The differences are noticeable in taste and solubility. It is also a characteristic of quality and influences the price.

We have already gone into the properties and the advantages and disadvantages of both types in the guide section. Depending on how you want to use cocoa powder, you should think carefully about your choice.

Sugar content

Sugar is the most common ingredient in cocoa powder. Pure cocoa powder has no added sugar, while instant cocoa powder can sometimes contain 20% sugar.

The sugar content not only affects the taste, but also the calories. However, since cocoa tastes very bitter or sour and is practically inedible without sweeteners, the addition of sugar makes perfect sense.

Adding sugar to cocoa powder relieves you of the task of having to re-sweeten the powder on your own. This can be very handy. On the other hand, you can only influence to a limited extent how sweet the powder should be.

Additives

Pure cocoa powder usually has no additives. However, the other types of cocoa powder have special additives. Besides cane sugar and dextrose, cocoa powder often has acidity regulators, vitamins, minerals, salt, flavourings and other substances added.

These additives are not always a disadvantage. Cocoa powder with sugar, salt and flavourings can speed up and facilitate the preparation of drinks and dishes. Certain additives can also improve solubility.

Production and processing

Some manufacturers process the cocoa very little or very gently. For example, some types are not heated or not chemically treated in order to preserve the healthy ingredients of the cocoa.

Quality tests are also carried out to check the cocoa and cocoa powder for impurities, which is a common problem in the cocoa industry. These tests therefore guarantee a particularly pure and high-quality product.

On the other hand, the cocoa mass and powder must be specially treated to be cleaned of impurities or bacteria and to have a longer shelf life. In addition, cocoa must meet certain quality requirements in order to be sold.

Origin

Cocoa used to make cocoa powder is imported from many different countries, mostly in Africa and South America. Most of the cocoa we consume in Germany and Europe comes from the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon.

Since these are developing countries, it makes sense to look at the origin and import conditions. The cocoa plantations in these countries often come under criticism, especially with regard to payment, working conditions and child labour.

Certificates such as Fairtrade can guarantee that the cocoa has been fairly traded, for example, i.e. that a fair share of the proceeds goes to the cocoa farmers, that the cocoa plantation fulfils certain conditions, that the cultivation is sustainable, and that no child labourers are involved.

Facts worth knowing about cocoa powder

How is cocoa powder made?

The path from the cocoa fruit to cocoa powder is long and complex. The raw product goes through several phases.

1. Harvesting

The ripe cocoa fruits are carefully harvested from the trees with picking knives. The pulp is then extracted from the fruit along with the cocoa beans.

2. Fermenting

The pulp is placed on banana leaves or in wooden boxes and fermented for several days. During this process, the flavours and brown colour develop. The germination capacity of the seeds is also destroyed, which makes storage possible. After fermentation, the cocoa beans are easier to separate from the pulp.

3. Drying

In the next step, the separated cocoa beans are dried in the sun for several weeks. The flavours develop further and the water content is reduced. Cocoa beans have a natural water content of about 60%. This is reduced to about 7% to improve the shelf life.

4. Transport

Now comes the transport. The next processing steps are usually carried out in North America and Europe. The dried cocoa beans are therefore transported by sea to the respective countries.

5. Cleaning

Once they arrive at the factory, the cocoa beans are cleaned and thermally treated. Contaminants and bacteria are removed and killed by sieves, hot air, infrared light or other methods.

6. Roasting

Now comes the roasting. Depending on the type of cocoa beans and how they are to be used further, the roasting temperatures vary between 100 °C and 140 °C and the roasting time between 20 and 60 minutes. For cocoa powder, the beans are usually roasted longer and at a higher temperature. This process removes moisture from the beans again and the flavours and colouring develop.

7. Breaking, peeling and grinding

The roasted beans are then broken, peeled and ground. The heat melts the cocoa butter. The product of this process is the cocoa mass, which has a liquid, oily consistency.

8. Alkalise

The cocoa mass for cocoa powder is treated with alkaline salts. This makes it easier to extract the cocoa butter from the mass. The taste and colour of the powder can also be influenced

9. Pressing

The heated cocoa mass is pressed and the cocoa butter flows out. This is further processed for chocolate or for pharmaceutical or cosmetic purposes. The finished deoiled cocoa mass (also called cocoa press cake) has a fat content of 10 to 30 % fat. Cocoa mass with more than 30 % fat cannot be processed into powder.

10. Instantise

Cocoa powder should be easily soluble and not form lumps. However, natural cocoa is not readily soluble. To improve this property, the cocoa press cake is treated in an aqueous aerosol vapour. This settles on the surface of the cocoa and promotes solubility.

11. Pulverising

Finally, the cocoa press cake is ground into fine cocoa powder by rollers.

The history of cocoa

Cocoa originally comes from Central America. The area corresponds to present-day Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala. There, cocoa has been cultivated and used since the 4th century.

It was a popular drink, but the cocoa butter was also used for medicinal and cosmetic purposes. Cocoa beans were already very valuable at that time and were even used as a means of payment.

In the 16th century, the area was conquered and colonised by the Spanish, who quickly understood the value of cocoa and had large plantations established. However, the bitter drink did not taste good to them. Only when it was mixed with sugar and vanilla did it gain popularity.

Until the 19th century, chocolate was reserved only for the rich and was considered an absolute luxury good. With industrialisation, however, chocolate factories were developed and chocolate became accessible to the general population.

Today, chocolate and other cocoa products are considered the most popular confectionery. Cocoa consumption is constantly increasing. Cocoa is one of the most valuable raw materials in the food industry.

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