How do you choose between the lighter coloured 'natural cocoa powder', which is rich in nutrients, and the darker, milder 'alkalised cocoa powder', which has its own benefits?
When you see light brown or dark brown cocoa powder, which one would you choose? The darker cocoa powder looks more "pure" and should be more "natural", right?
Generally speaking, commercially available cocoa powder can be divided into "natural cocoa powder/non-alkalised cocoa powder" and "alkalised cocoa powder".
From the earliest days of the Mayan Empire to Spain, cacao beans were consumed as a beverage. However, cocoa beans contain about 50% oil and are not so easily soluble in water. In the 18th and 19th centuries, cocoa was imported into the Netherlands and the demand for cocoa beverages increased, so that more and more merchants began to manufacture and sell hot cocoa. One of these merchants, Coenraad Johannes van Houten, son of Casparus van Houten, solved the problem of cocoa paste floating up when dissolved in water: the "degreasing" technique, which removed excess fat from the paste, and the "alkalinising" technique, which neutralised the sour and astringent taste of the paste.
The cocoa paste has a strong acidic and astringent flavour after pressing, which is chemically acidic. In addition to improving the flavour, it also makes the cocoa powder more soluble in water. Natural cocoa powder has a pH of 5.0 - 5.8, while alkaline cocoa powder has a pH of 6.2 - 7.5, which also gives it a darker colour. As this technique was invented by the Dutch, alkalinised cocoa powder is also known as Dutch-process cocoa powder.
During the alkalisation process, the high temperature and alkaline substances cause the sugar to crack or the anthocyanins to turn into coffee colour, so the colour of alkalised cocoa powder is darker than that of natural cocoa powder.
Generally speaking, cocoa powder is used in two ways: for direct consumption and for baking. Natural cocoa powder/unalkalised cocoa powder is a less processed product that retains more nutrients and is suitable for daily health drinks; alkalised cocoa powder has a more pleasing colour and milder flavour and is more commonly used for baking.