I am looking for a non-alkalized, full-fat cocoa powder to use in recipes. By non-alkalized, I mean cocoa which has not undergone the Dutch process.

The problem in detail: Gourmet grocery stores sell various "raw cacao" powders that fit the bill, however there seem to be safety issues. For example, ConsumerLab shows high levels of lead and cadmium for many of these products. Some products even have a California Proposition 65 warning. One might treat these as a guide, however absence of a bad ConsumerLab result or Prop 65 warning isn't a strong signal, because batches vary and many brands don't even test their product. It would seem likely that the safest cocoa products would come from big brands like Valrhona, Callebaut or Guittard, however their cocoa powder products are all alkalized.

Back to the question: What is the safest way to acquire a high-quality, non-alkalized cocoa powder? UPDATED: I would accept a definition of "safe" from someone with expertise in the area of metals contamination in food, but short of that, here's what would qualify as "safe" for me:

  • A product from a major producer in the industry.
  • A product from a company with a specific commitment about metals contamination, such as stated practices or certificates of analysis.
  • Maybe a home test kit is in order...
    – user3169
    Aug 24, 2017 at 3:40

2 Answers 2


Without actually being able to access the ConsumerLab report you mentioned, it's difficult to know what meets your definition of safe.

Scharffen Berger natural cocoa is one option. It has 1g fat per 5g serving, which I believe should meet your definition of "full fat". It is natural (non-alkalized) cocoa powder. It's quite expensive, and I believe normally considered "high quality". Scharffen Berger is now owned by Hershey's, which is definitely a major producer in the chocolate industry.

I highly doubt that Scharffen Berger and Hershey's cocoa are now identical. This is partly based on personal experience (10 years ago, which is not current), but also on the nutritional information for Hershey's (0.5 g fat per ~5 g serving), which I believe does not meet your "full fat" criterion.

Another option is Ghirardelli unsweetened ground cocoa, which is also a large producer.

Not processed with Alkaline/not Dutch processed.

I have no affiliation with Scharffen Berger, Hershey's, Ghirardelli, or any other chocolate producer.

  • Thanks, this is a very good answer. With regard to expense, it seems that some people who've tried Scharffen Berger natural cocoa insist that it's identical to Hershey's Cocoa 100% Cacao which is substantially less expensive. I'm going to follow up and see if Hershey's had anything specific to say about lead and cadmium, and will report back.
    – ruief
    Aug 23, 2017 at 20:14
  • @ruief I tried the Scharffen Berger cocoa ~10 years ago. It was definitely superior to Hershey cocoa at that time.
    – mattm
    Aug 23, 2017 at 20:25
  • 1
    Hershey's shut down the Scharffen Berger plant in late 2009 after acquiring the company, so there's a good chance that the SB cocoa you tasted 10 years ago is no longer in identical production.
    – ruief
    Aug 23, 2017 at 21:12
  • 1
    I talked to Hershey's. They don't publish lead/cadmium data for the Hershey's Cocoa 100% Cacao nor for the Scharffen Berger Natural Cocoa, but they do claim to test internally and claim that all products are below the Prop 65 threshold. They also told me that the two products come from different beans, and are processed differently, and noted that the SB has twice the fat content of the Hershey's by weight (meaning the Hershey's is heavily defatted). They also confirmed that both products are NOT processed with alkali.
    – ruief
    Aug 24, 2017 at 18:59
  • I wonder if the cocoa sold by Hershey's in Canada is also non-alkalyzed?
    – Jude
    Aug 26, 2017 at 23:41

The following cocoa powders are non-alkalized, and meet the original question's criterion of coming from major producers:

  • "Hershey's Cocoa 100% Cacao" (10% fat)
  • Scharffen Berger "Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder" (20% fat)
  • Ghirardelli "100% Unsweetened Ground Cocoa" (25% fat)

Fat percentages are by weight.

(The key product information here came from the answer by user mattm. I wrote this answer to share the information in a more utilitarian form.)

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