Drinking Chocolate Tasting Notes
Drinking Chocolate aka Sipping Chocolate aka Hot Chocolate
No matter what you call it, hot chocolate, sipping chocolate, drinking chocolate, liquid chocolate. No matter what the weather temperature. Served hot or over ice, drinking chocolate has always been one of my favorite ways to consume chocolate.
Much of my joy in tasting craft chocolate comes from sharing, discussing, gaining new perspectives from different palates. Meeting friends, colleagues, and clients over a cup of sipping chocolate has been a practice of mine for years.
I am creating this log of the flavor notes for two reasons.
First, I don’t want to forget all of the beautiful flavor notes. I want a reference point to go back to compare as the chocolate changes. Remember craft chocolate, drinking chocolate included, is an agricultural product with the possibility of changes in flavor with each new harvest, ferment, roast, or batch. Taking notes on the flavors, textures, and impressions so that I remember makes it easier for me to finish that last serving of sipping chocolate.
Second, I think this information held in one location for easy reference might be helpful to my fellow chocolate lovers when deciding which drinking chocolate to add to their own collection or to gift to others.
Right now, these are the drinking chocolates that I have on hand in my chocolate cupboard. I may add to this log in the future as I taste more brands or a different harvest, just to keep all notes in a convenient place to reference. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.
Also, I recognize that some of these are made with chocolate and some with cocoa powder. All are included on this list.
The preparation method.
For a consistent preparation method I mixed equal amounts of drinking chocolate and filtered hot water from my Bonavita kettle at 205° f using a battery powered whisk. This preparation method may be different than the instructions given by the maker. I'm trying to be consistent for tasting. Remember tasing and evauation is different than drinking for pure pleasure.
For the iced drinking chocolate I used the same preparation method as the hot and added 2 cubes of ice after whisking. I recognize there will be a bit of extra water from the ice melt.
Fresco Drinking Chocolate
Made in Lynden, Washington USA frescochocolate.com
Texture: Smooth and velvety.
Side note: Many times my breakfast, or instead of afternoon tea. A great one to share with people who need a first taste of craft drinking chocolate. Pantry staple.
Hot: Deep chocolate flavors with notes of dried fruit leaning towards traditional raisin flavors and a brightness that reminds me of dark dried cherry or even golden raisins.
Iced: The brighter notes of golden raisin or even citrus notes are the first flavors I taste, then the deep dark chocolate notes chime in just a moment later with a very slight and pleasing hint of bitter at the finish. On a hot day the bright notes of the iced sipping chocolate are particularly refreshing.
Cacao Prieto Criollo Dominican Spiced Hot Chocolate
Made in Brooklyn, New York USA www.cacaoprieto.com
Origin: Dominican Republic on their family farm.
Texture: Smooth chocolate with texture of the added spices.
Hot: Tobacco, wood, and dark dried fruit notes of the DR origin chocolate are what I taste first. They blend with well grounded spices, nutmeg being the most evident, that remind me of winter evenings. Cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne are additions to the chocolate. My tongue can sense the texture of the spices however it isn’t a distraction, actually makes it more interesting. There is a long hearty finish
Iced: The flavor of the spices hit my tongue before the chocolate notes when iced, the opposite order than when hot. The cloves take center stage and are the strongest flavor from start to finish with cinnamon and cayenne right there behind. It’s a good thing that the chocolate is bold, and it is strong enough to play with the spices. The cayenne brightens the finish but in the end the dark earthy and tobacco notes of the chocolate are what remain on my palate.
French Broad Sip
Made in Asheville, North Carolina USA frenchbroadchocolates.com
Origin: Not noted on package
Texture: craft texture
Hot: Sweet with a tart berry note that reminds me of a strawberry. Definitely a dark chocolate covered strawberry flavor. Pleasing tannins on the finish make it seem a bit more adult (lovely for the kid in all of us) and the strawberry note becomes more of a boysenberry note towards the end. Fun.
Iced: Strawberry notes and tannins right up front reminding me of strawberry ice cream that has been drizzled with port and covered in chocolate. Again, fun however when iced the tannins that show up early make this seem much more of an adult beverage.
Dick Taylor Drinking Chocolate Belize Toledo
Made in Eureka, California USA dicktaylorchocolate.com
Origin: Belize, Toledo from Maya Mountain Co-op
Texture: Smooth like silk
Side note: I drink this when I need a moment to think and make a decision, or after a hard day.
Hot: Notes of deep dark cherry, tobacco, and tamarind. Ever so slight and pleasing astringency on the finish. If I had a lovely deep low soft leather chair in a rich dark paneled room next to a massive stone fireplace, this is the deep dark sipping chocolate I would drink there. Not sweet, and in my home reserved for the adults. Pairs well with bourbon.
Iced: Starts with deep chocolate flavor with a hint toward dark dried cherry and tobacco. A bit of astringency presents itself earlier in the iced version than in the hot, not distracting though. The finish seems to lighten into a mixed tropical fruit note reminding me of pineapple.
Dick Taylor Peppermint Drinking Chocolate
Made in Eureka, California USA dicktaylorchocolate.com
Inclusions: Peppermint Candy
Texture: Smooth as silk with an occasional chunk of unmelted peppermint candy followed by a zing of sweet peppermint flavor.
Hot: Although at first you’ll think this is all about the peppermint, it’s not, the bright citrus/orange and raspberry notes of the Madagascar chocolate are right there competing with and complimenting the peppermint. Actually a genius pairing of flavors that are often centered around the holidays. This one falls on the sweeter side of the scale, lovely for a fun dessert.
Iced: The cooling feeling of the peppermint candy is the first thing I notice, followed by dark chocolate notes, then citrus with a finish that goes back to the cooling peppermint on my tongue. The Madagascar notes aren’t as pronounced as they are in the hot version, they are lurking just below the surface. Reminds me of a dark chocolate covered sweet candy cane.
T.cacao by To'ak 75% Dark Drinking Chocolate
Made in Ecuador toakchocolate.com
Texture: Silk and velvet.
Side note: My go to instead of an evening cocktail.
Hot: Plump ripe black raisin notes followed by a very deep dark earthy chocolate notes with a hint of walnut. Tangy berry, almost cranberry, notes are evident throughout and into the finish. Reminds me of a dry fine wine, definitely adult flavors. As soon as it starts to cool it starts to thicken. At first glance you might think that this is cocoa powder based, it is not. It is finely ground chocolate and as soon as the hot water is poured in, it starts to melt and thicken into a silky smooth velvety beverage, almost pudding.
Iced: Tangier with more berry and cranberry notes than the hot version, and the walnut tastes more like walnut skin. Raisin notes take a back seat to the cranberry, walnut, and chocolate flavors. Still adult like flavors even when cold. It reminds me more of a very dry cocktail. The finish is pure deep dark chocolate.
Chocolate Conspiracy Chocolate Drink Mix
Made in Salt Lake City Utah eatchocolateconspiracy.com
Cacao Origin Peru
Inclusions: Coconut palm sugar, Sweet Mesquite Powder, Vanilla Bean, Pink Salt
Texture: Mostly smooth with some craft and a slightly powdery feel, not distracting, gives it character.
Side note: Although for this tasing I used only water, when this is made with Aroy-d coconut milk it makes a beverage that is thick rich and so satisfying and almost healing.
Hot: Sweet with the flavors of the palm sugar and mesquite. Malty and slightly smoky. Fruity plum like notes of the Peruvian cacao start to reveal more toward the finish. The long finish is a mix of all of the flavors coming and going one at a time, finally settling toward the malty side.
Iced: Plum and stone fruit notes at first. Then malty notes remind me of a very sophisticated Ovaltine. I can taste the vanilla just a touch on the finish.
Goodnow Farms House Blend Hot Cocoa
Made in Sudbury Massachusetts USA goodnowfarms.com
Texture: Iced it is easier to notice the cocoa powder texture, hot is a bit more difficult for my tongue to decipher the cocoa powder in the liquid.
Notes: Goodnow Farms presses their own cocoa powder.
Hot: Fruity, flavors remind me of fruit loops breakfast cereal. Followed by a slight bitter note and then sweet notes of berry or cherry jam. The finish reminds me of a boysenberry syrup. This one must remind me of childhood breakfasts?
Iced: First, I noticed the cocoa powder texture is evident in the iced much more than in the hot cocoa. Fruit notes what high acidity like pineapple, tart like a slightly unripe strawberry. Also reminds me of sweet tarts. Banana skin notes develop mid way through. Finishes with a mild nutty and cocoa note.
Goodnow Farms El Carmen Nicaragua Hot Cocoa
Made in Sudbury MA, USA goodnowfarms.com
Origin El Carmen Nicaragua
Texture: The cocoa powder texture is more evident in the iced hot cocoa than the hot.
Hot: Rounded and sweet flavors. Sweet, like bananas and dairy blended with chocolate. I think this is what it would taste like if you melted chocolate ice cream into a liquid then topped with banana whipped cream.
Iced: Bright banana flavors and some banana skin notes followed with a sweetness that reminds me of marshmallows. A cocoa and Oreo cookie note on the finish.
Amara Gran Criollo Hot Chocolate Dak Chocolate Blend
Made in Pasadena CA USA amaracafe.com
Texture: I can feel a bit of the cocoa power texture in both the hot and iced however that is because I didn't NOT follow directions on the package for making this hot chocolate, instead I prepared it in the exact same way that I did for all of the other drinking chocolates in this comparison (see above). When made according to the directions the texture is smooth and velvety.
Inculsions: Non-GMO Maize Starch, Kosher Sea Salt
Hot: The flavors remind me of a deep dark chocolate fudge with nuts, then move to notes of rich salted caramel. The finish is all fudge and brownie, deep and dark.
Iced: Very dark and sweet fudge notes. Following the same path as the hot preparation, the salted caramel notes come next, then the sweet fudge brownie finish.
Madre Chocolate de Mesa
Made in O'hau Hawaii USA madrechocolate.com
Origin: Lachua Co-op Guatemala
Inclusions: Vanilla, cinnamon, allspice, mesa?
Texture: Texture of spices the smooth chocolate.
Hot: At first, tropical fruit like mango notes then I start to notice the cinnamon and allspice, they are subtle and gentle against the chocolate. The finish has muted notes of the spices and returns to the calming chocolate flavors with hints of mango and light tropical fruit like starfruit.
Iced: Bright bolder tropical notes like starfruit and ginger mix with the punchy cinnamon and allspice giving me the impression of a gingerbread or spiced cake. The finish brings deeper chocolate notes against the colorful spices. It reminds me of a spiced gingerbread baked and drizzled with chocolate and somehow makes me feel much more awake and alive. I'd seriously consider drinking this as a morning wake up or before exams and important meetings.
Cocoa K-RLA Cacao Balls
Made in Dominican Republic
Origin: Dominican Republic
Texture: Sandy texture against a smooth coating liquid. I suspect the sugar gives it the coating quality.
Note: I microplaned the ball of chocolate measuring the weight carefully, then mixed into hot water.
Hot: Earthy and peaty. The scent reminds me of dried leaves in the forest at the end of fall. Flavors lean heavily toward organic material of gardens and farms. Some notes of molasses and sugar toward the finish.
Iced: Earth and peat and all of the flavors that seem organic. Even woody for a moment. Notes of white granulated sugar. This may appeal to drinkers of peaty scotch.