There are three kinds of people in the world – coffee drinkers, hot chocolate drinkers, and the elusive tea drinkers.
In America, however, there tend to be fewer tea drinkers.
Rather, the country is divided into either coffee or hot chocolate enthusiasts.
Coffee and hot chocolate are both excellent, energy-boosting drinks. Coffee is known for its smooth flavor and hefty caffeine boost, perfect for getting started in the early morning. Hot chocolate, long thought of as a bringer of childhood magic, is sweet, creamy, and delicious.
These two drinks have been an active part of most people’s lives since childhood.
When we were young, it was hot chocolate filled with marshmallows, and as we’ve grown into adults, it’s become espressos and lattes.
However, is one better than the other?
Ah, coffee. It comes in every flavor imaginable – hot or iced, black or with cream. People drink theirs in all different ways. There are even coffee milkshakes these days.
Coffee is created by plucking and roasting the beans of one of two plants, either the Coffea Arabica or the Coffea Canephora.
These two plants are responsible for all of the world’s coffee.
The two primary types of coffee – Arabica and Robusta – each come from one of these two, with about 65% being Arabica and the rest being Robusta.
Roasting the Beans
Green coffee beans are seldom used for coffee. Instead, the beans are roasted at various temperatures, leaving us with the signature flavor of each roast type.
Coffee beans for blonde roast are roasted at the lowest temperature, around 355 to 400°F (180 to 204°C).
They are roasted just until the bean begins to crack. This type of roast is the lightest and produces a mild flavor.
Medium roast is your typical type of roast and is cooked until the beans reach a temperature of 410 to 428°F (210 to 220°C).
Medium-Dark roast puts the coffee beans at an internal temperature of 437 to 446°F (225 to 230°C).
At this stage in the roasting process, the beans have begun the second roast and are beginning to excrete oils on the top of the bean.
Dark roast beans are roasted between 464 and 482°F (240 to 250°C). As its name implies, this is the heaviest roast and has a bold flavor profile.
Whole vs. Ground Coffee
There are two options for purchasing coffee – whole coffee beans or ground coffee. Most of the coffee you’ll find in the store is pre-ground in preparation for consumption.
Ground coffee simply requires you to put in a coffee maker, add water, and wait.
You also have the option to buy bags of whole beans. The primary purpose of buying whole beans is to keep the coffee fresher.
They do still have to be ground before being used, however.
Sometimes coffee beans are eaten whole, such as in the case of chocolate-covered espresso beans.
Types of Coffee Drinks
Today, it feels like there are hundreds of various coffee options. From cappuccinos to macchiatos and everything in between, it becomes a challenge to only choose one.
Let’s go over some of the most common coffee drinks.
Espresso is the basis for a myriad of coffee drinks. In fact, apart from plain brewed coffee and cold brew, if you order a caffeinated drink, it’s almost guaranteed to be made with espresso.
Espresso beans are a type of dark roast.
Espresso can be added to milk or drunk on its own. Many people looking for a quick pick-me-up find themselves drinking Americanos, a mix of espresso and hot water, or having an espresso with cream.
A latte is a mixed coffee drink made from steamed milk and espresso. They can also be made iced depending on the consumer’s preference.
Lattes can be made straight with just milk and espresso, but most often, they’re ordered in one of the many flavors available.
There’s a mocha – chocolate, espresso, and milk. There’s vanilla, hazelnut, cinnamon, pumpkin spice, peppermint, butterscotch, and anything else humanity can dream up.
Many people mix various flavors, such as in the case of the popular Christmas latte, a peppermint mocha.
Many people prefer flavored lattes due to their saccharine flavor. If you’re a fan of sweet drinks, lattes are the way to go.
For even more ideas on drinks loaded with sugary goodness, check out this article on eight of the sweetest coffees.
Cappuccinos are very similar to lattes when it comes to their combination of espresso and milk. However, there are a few differences.
For one, cappuccinos are always very hot. This is because the signature marking of a cappuccino is the milk foam added on top of the drink.
Milk foam is only produced after steaming the beverage.
Cappuccinos also can come in a variety of flavors. However, they’re usually drunk straight.
Cold Brew coffee is made specially without heat. Instead, ground coffee is soaked in water for many hours, usually at least 24. Afterward, the coffee grounds are filtered back out, and you’re left with cold brew.
Nitro Cold Brew is a popular side variant of regular cold brew where the finished coffee is later infused with nitrogen.
This causes the coffee to have a richer, smoother, and creamier flavor than regular cold brew.
Hot Chocolate Basics
Hot chocolate lovers everywhere, rejoice! We are finally onto the good stuff.
Hot chocolate is a favorite beverage for many, bringing back memories of winter evenings snuggled up with a good book and Christmas mornings.
Made of a mixture of chocolate, either melted or powder, and cream, hot cocoa is a sensual delight to the tastebuds.
The easiest way to enjoy hot cocoa is with instant hot chocolate, which comes boxed in separate packages.
However, lots of people revel in the process of making homemade hot chocolate, and no one can deny it tastes so much better!
Surprisingly, hot chocolate is not just a winter beverage. Hot chocolate drinkers often drink the beverage all throughout the year.
There are even cool versions of hot chocolate now, dedicated to summer. I’m not convinced that’s not just chocolate milk, though.
For most people, however, hot chocolate remains a winter treat.
Winter hot chocolate drinkers report that “it’s the best part of winter,” with 32% of those people admitting that they have a hot chocolate every day during the season.
Types of Hot Chocolate
While hot chocolate doesn’t come in as many forms as coffee does, it doesn’t mean there’s no variety to it.
In fact, over time, it seems like each culture has put its own spin on the world of hot cocoa, adding various spices and other ingredients to match theirl palette.
Hot chocolate also pairs quite well with various types of liqueur, making it the perfect addition to a late-night holiday party.
Let’s look at some of the most common types of hot chocolate.
Mexican Hot Chocolate
Mexican hot cocoa is a beautiful blend of chocolate, milk, cayenne, vanilla, cinnamon, and brown sugar.
However, the signature Mexican flavor of the cayenne is what really makes this hot chocolate variation stand out.
Mexican hot chocolate is enormously warming as it goes down, but not spicy.
If you’re a morning hot cocoa drinker, this is the perfect drink to wake you up and start the morning.
Red Velvet Hot Chocolate
Many people adore red velvet cake, and this signature hot chocolate variety provides the perfect creative spin.
This hot chocolate is stunningly delicious and made from your normal hot chocolate ingredients blended with whipped cream cheese and heavy cream.
Of course, red velvet cake wouldn’t be red velvet without a bit of red food coloring.
This hot cocoa is also sometimes used for Halloween parties. Spooky.
Aztec Hot Chocolate
Like the delightful Mexican Hot Chocolate, Aztec hot cocoa adds a bit of spice to the mix.
The real difference between this and the Mexican variety is using the guajillo chile over cayenne and adding vanilla bean and extract.
This chocolate has subtle flavors of black pepper, nutmeg, and allspice, along with the warm spiciness from the pepper, of course.
Peppermint Hot Chocolate
We’ve saved the most popular for last – the beloved peppermint hot cocoa. Enjoyed by fans worldwide, this hot chocolate is a winter favorite.
Peppermint hot cocoa is most often associated with Christmas cheer, but many people consume it all throughout the year.
It can be made in many ways, from adding peppermint extract to melting candy canes in your homemade chocolate.
What is it about chocolate and peppermint that pairs so well together?
For many people, the rich luxuriousness of the chocolate paired with the refreshing minty flavor of the peppermint makes this hot cocoa feel like home.
The Best of Both Worlds
For those who love coffee and hot cocoa, I’d like to discuss a revolutionary idea. What if we just combined the two?
Okay, maybe it’s not so revolutionary after all since many people do this. However, it is absolutely delicious.
Originally coming from Milan and known by the name “barbajada,” the idea of mixing some espresso or strong brewed coffee with the creamy luxuriousness of hot cocoa is a fan favorite for those who happen to love both of these drinks.
This is similar to a coffee drink you can order at any local coffee shop – the cafe mocha. In all honesty, I’m not sure it’s that different at all.
However, when hot cocoa powder is mixed with regular coffee, it gives you a different flavor than a regular mocha.
What can I say? Coffee goes with everything. Chocolate goes with everything. So, of course they’d go together.
So let’s go into some drinks you can make that combine these two powerful flavors.
The Instant Chocolate Coffee
It’s a cold, winter Monday morning, and you’re rushing to get out of the house in time for work. There’s no time to stop at the coffee shop.
You’ve got to be there in less than thirty minutes, and you have a thirty-five-minute drive. What now?
Introducing: instant hot chocolate coffee. Known for being extraordinarily quick to make, this drink is made by creating a strong brew of instant coffee, heating some milk quickly in the microwave, and throwing a hot chocolate packet in a cup.
Mix it all together, and suddenly you have the best instant mocha.
This drink is extraordinarily easy and fast to make, but I’d rate it at 4 out of 10 on the taste scale. So let’s talk about some tastier options.
The Original – Barbajada
This Milanese drink is actually pretty simple to make, and it’s not even that time-consuming. Though I can’t say, it’s as quick as the instant version.
First things first, you’ll want to mix up some cocoa powder and sugar to the desired sweetness level for you.
The nice part is that if you like your drink extra chocolatey but not so sweet, you’re completely in control.
Once your cocoa powder and sugar are thoroughly mixed, whisk it into some hot milk and finalize it with a shot or two of espresso.
If you want extra foam on top, mix the espresso in beforehand and whisk them all together.
The Happy Medium
Alright, so you don’t want to get fancy with making the barbajada, but you also have a little more time available than is needed for the instant mocha.
For this method, you’ll want to brew some coffee or prepare a shot or two of espresso – whatever your preference is.
Then, whisk it together with some steamed or hot milk and a hot cocoa packet.
If you have a home milk steamer, this will make the milk extra frothy and extra delicious.
Coffee versus hot chocolate, which is better? It depends on your tastes.
There are tons of people who swear by coffee, but there’s almost an equal amount of enthusiasts that feel the same about hot chocolate.
Hot chocolate is great for people who can’t have caffeine but still want to enjoy the taste of hot milk blended with sweets, especially if they’re chocolate lovers.
On the other hand, coffee is fantastic for people who rely on that caffeine for an extra energy boost.
Hey, if you love both, go ahead and try mixing them.
I promise it’s delicious!
- ScienceDirect Topics: Coffea Arabica – an overview
- Coffee Affection: 4 Types of Coffee Roasts (Explained with Images)
- Full Coffee Roast: 7 Most Popular Coffee Roasts
- PennLive: Hot Chocolate: Americans Say It’s the Most Loved Part of Winter
- Culture Trip: 12 Types of Hot Chocolate to Keep You Warm
- Cooks Illustrated: How To Make Nitro Cold-Brew Coffee at Home
- Serious Eats: Want Your Coffee and Hot Cocoa Too?
- Recipe Garden: Hot Chocolate Milk Coffee
- Study Finds: Hot chocolate is the most beloved part of winter, survey says