Hot Cocoa & Drinking Chocolate & Ceremonial Cacao

The difference between hot cocoa and drinking chocolate isn’t only in price, but also in quality and concentration of ingredients. The two products have a basic ingredient in common — cacao — but are processed and blended differently. Hot cocoa is often flat and sweet, while drinking chocolate is rich and complex in flavor, and can be sweetened or unsweetened.

What Is Hot Cocoa?

Hot cocoa is both a beverage and a drink mix, which dates back to the 19th century. Before then, hot chocolate was the beverage of the nobility, made from roughly-ground cacao beans and sugar. In the early 1800’s, a Dutch chemist invented the first cocoa butter press, a machine which extracted about half the fat of cacao beans. This left behind cakes of low-fat cacao, which could be pulverized into a chocolaty powder. Soon cocoa butter found a market with cosmetics companies, rendering the cocoa powder less valuable but in high supply.

Cacao processors blended the cocoa powder with sugar and sold it as a medicinal drink. But consumers found that while sugar still dissolved well in liquids, the new powdered chocolate largely sank.

Soon those same Dutch chemists invented a process for alkalizing cocoa powder, making it easier to dissolve in water. This process is now called “dutching,” and is standard for large hot cocoa manufacturers.

Dutching also standardizes the flavor of cocoa powder, and neutralizes many of cacao’s nutrients and antioxidants, making the product less healthy. Cheap hot cocoa mixes are often made with low quality cacao, which isn’t good for cocoa farmers or consumers.

Cheap hot cocoa also often includes powdered milk and artificial flavors, to standardize the flavor and lower manufacturing costs.

In response, some bean to bar chocolate makers have begun making their own hot cocoa mixes with the high-fat cocoa left over from pressing single origin cocoa butter.

These craft hot cocoa mixes are usually sold with just cocoa powder and a small amount of sugar, so consumers with dietary restrictions can also enjoy hot cocoa.

What Is Drinking Chocolate?

Drinking chocolate is different from hot cocoa in that it’s made with full-fat chocolate; none of the cocoa butter is removed.

More often than not, drinking chocolate is a cup of pure chocolate, thinned out with hot milk or water, while hot cocoa mix is added in order to flavor the liquid.

Before the invention of modern chocolate, most chocolate beverages were gritty, as there was no equipment to refine the chocolate down into today’s smooth product. In that sense, hot cocoa is older than modern drinking chocolate, but the latter is a more indulgent and healthy beverage.

Drinking chocolate is made in both dark and milk chocolate varieties, making it easier to buy a healthy option.

Drinking Chocolate is a richer drink than hot cocoa, but is more satisfying, fulfilling and is also better for you!

What Is Ceremonial Cacao

Ceremonial cacao is a different form of the beloved drinking chocolate products we carry.

Ceremonial grade cacao is all-natural, unadulterated, 100 percent pure chocolate in an un-tempered form that's made from pure cacao bean paste.

Although it may not look like or taste like your favorite chocolate bar, it offers plenty of health benefits and is being embraced by many as their new morning ritual, often as a replacement for coffee.

Whether you love it or hate it, the term "ceremonial cacao" has captured the collective imagination. While ceremonial cacao may mean different things to different people, in this context cacao is used as a ritual that can elevate the mood and be a conduit for opening the heart.

Unlike our selection of 100% chocolate bars; there is no added cocoa butter or lecithin, and the cacao paste is not refined in any way.

The craft drinking chocolate we carry is decadent and creamy, while this ceremonial grade cacao is more earthy.

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  • Award Winning Chocolate Makers

    Bar & Cocoa is the premier purveyor of exceptional craft chocolates from award winning chocolate makers. We hand pick exceptional makers to feature.

  • Ethically Sourced

    Ethics is a key ingredient to the world’s best chocolate. Our selection supports a supply chain that is more transparent than fair trade and big-brand chocolate — and tastier!

  • Fine & Rare Origins

    The chocolate we offer is crafted from fine quality cacao. You can taste the uniqueness and complexity of different cacao origins with nuanced flavors, unlike mass-produced chocolate.