Coco vs. Cocoa – What’s the Difference? (With Examples)

There is nothing better than hot “cocoa” on cold days. Or should we say hot “coco”? Is it possible that both terms are acceptable? Sometimes spelling and pronunciation can be confusing. If you ever had this doubt, read on. This piece will answer all your questions.

Coco vs. Cocoa – What’s the Difference?

“Cocoa” is a brown powder made from roasted cacao beans. It is used for making a sweet drink by mixing the “cocoa” powder with hot water or milk. “Coco” refers to the Coconut palm tree, which grows in tropical areas.

coco vs cocoa

Since both “coco” and “cocoa” refer to different things, these terms are not interchangeable. And of course, we should not use them as synonyms.

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“Coco” refers to a tall palm tree that gives coconuts as fruits. This type of tree grows mostly in tropical areas. The fruit born by these trees is round-shaped and it has some furry hard bark. Inside, it has a soft white pulp and a tasty sweet juice.

So, to clarify, we say that the “coco” is the tree and the coconut is the fruit of this tree.

When checking at Cambridge Dictionary, we were surprised because we did not find the word “coco”. Instead, it suggests the words c*ck (an adult male chicken) or coo (soft sound made by doves and pigeons). However, we confirmed with the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and the Collins Dictionary that “coco” is a correct word in English that refers to a palm tree.

Let’s see some examples with the word “coco” in a sentence:

  1. After a two-hour hike, we find a hidden beach, full of coconuts, white sand, and the most incredible turquoise sea.
  2. There is a saying that claims that you should never take a nap under a coco tree. You never know when a coconut is going to fall.
  3. Since it is not a typical tree in this area, we deduce that coco was introduced near the 1800s.
  4. Palm trees, especially cocos, grow a lot during the first years to access sunlight.
  5. My brother learned to climb cocos. He only needs some special belt that keeps him hanging to get to the top, where coconuts grow.


“Cocoa” is a powder made from smashed and roasted cacao seeds. These seeds need to be dried and fermented first. Then, from dehydrated and ground beans, we get the “cocoa”, which is used for making chocolate or to add chocolate flavor to foods and drinks.

“Cocoa” is commonly used for cooking. One of the most famous preparations is the hot “cocoa”: hot chocolate-flavored milk.

Moreover, the word “cocoa” is also used to refer to brown color.

The Cambridge dictionary confirms the definition above.

Let’s see some examples with the word “cocoa” in a sentence:

  1. Mole is a typical Mexican sauce that is made with cocoa and chile.
  2. I had a large cup of hot cocoa in the morning. There is nothing better for cold days like this.
  3. First, you need to heat the milk. Then, two tablespoons full of cocoa and stir until dissolved.
  4. When I run out of chocolate, I use cocoa to replace it. The muffins are equally exquisite.
  5. I discovered that some wines have a cocoa scent, mixed with plums and blueberry scent.
  6. I fell in love with her immediately the night she came to bed with two smoky large mugs of hot cocoa.
  7. Cacao farmers claim to have very favorable climatic conditions this year. The harvest will overcome historical records and we’ll drink cocoa all year long.

Which Is Used the Most?

We use Google Ngram Viewer to check on popularity levels between two terms. In this case, we submitted “coco” and “cocoa”. This is what we found:

coco vs cocoa usage

“Coco” shows an even curve all along the century with low rates of use. In the last two decades, this curve shows a slightly positive trend.

On the other hand, despite its ups and downs, “Cocoa” presents a higher usage. In the last decades, it shows a negative trend, but its use rate is still far higher than “coco”.

Final Thoughts

“Coco” is a type of palm tree, while “cocoa” refers to a brown powder made from dehydrated and ground cacao seeds. Despite “coco” and “cocoa” sounding almost the same, they refer to different things. So, the context will help us understand the word intended.