A Chocolate Glossary:
cacao: the domesticated plant and all its products, before processing. chocolate: the seeds of the cacoa plant after processing, whether liquid or solid. cocoa: the defatted powder made from cacao.
The terms seed and bean are used interchangeably.
The source of chocolate, the seeds of the cacao tree, have figured prominently in many different cultures, first in prehistoric Central America, then in Mayan and Aztec civilization, then around the world, spread by the great colonial powers. Chocolate lovers might swear that the cacao tree's major contribution has been gastronomic, but it has also played an important part in religious, medical, economic, and social history.