There is nothing like coming from the frigid outdoors and enjoying a warm mug of hot chocolate. Have you ever wondered how much caffeine is in hot chocolate? Chocolate in any fashion has a way of hugging our inner spirit! We know this warm beverage as either “hot chocolate” or “hot cocoa.” But did you know that these two references are entirely different?
Are you ready for a revelation in what you have been enjoying in that mug?
Hot cocoa is the correct term for a warm beverage made with milk, sugar, and cocoa. This is what most of us are familiar with as the warm chocolate beverage we have delighted in since childhood.
Hot chocolate is the correct term for what’s known as the European form of drinking chocolate.
Many Americans are not familiar with this specific form of “hot chocolate” because it is typically found in Europe.
So, how much caffeine is in hot chocolate and hot cocoa?
We are going to digress a little and look at where these chocolate beverages came from before taking a look at the caffeine content.
Where did hot chocolate and hot cocoa come from?
The first chocolate beverage was developed by the Olmec (an ancient civilization in Mesoamerica) between 250-900 A.D. The Olmec ground the nibs of the cacao plant into a paste. Water was added to the paste, and then the mixture was transferred back and forth between two containers. The finished drink had a “rustic,” foamy texture. They named this drink “xocolatl,” which is where the name “chocolate” came from. Xocolatl was reserved for ceremonial uses only because of its mystic qualities.
This drink was extremely bitter. It was certainly nothing close to the sweet drink we enjoy today! The Olmec added spicy chilies to the drink to offset the bitterness. However, all that did was pack a punch of puckering with a kick!
Throughout time, the drink evolved into the two forms as we know it now (hot cocoa and hot chocolate.) Chocolatiers have honored the craft of marrying innovation with what the Olmecs invented by creating a sweeter, smoother, and palatable taste.
Did you know that centuries ago, hot chocolate was something only London aristocracy enjoyed?
Those of lower social standing never had the pleasure of trying it because they could not afford it.
Hot Cocoa vs. Hot Chocolate
So, we arrive back at the two drinks and try to make a comparison of the two caffeine-wise as well as their differentiation.
A note about cocoa vs. cacao:
Cocoa – roasted cacao beans (what we generally use for baking, drinks, etc.)
Cacao – unroasted cacao beans (typically used in vegan or raw diets)
|HOT COCOA||HOT CHOCOLATE|
|Locations||Enjoyed throughout the world.||Mainly enjoyed in European cultures.|
|Texture||Liquid, watery||Thick, dense|
|Consumption||Served in a mug and drank as a beverage|
Served in a demitasse cup and sipped or used as a dip for churros and/or pastries.
|Chocolate (Dark or Milk)|
|Preparation Method||– Adding powder/pre-packaged form to hot water|
– Handcrafted by adding cocoa and sugar to warm milk
|Melting chocolate down and adding heavy cream|
|Caffeine||Average of 5mg per 6-8 oz||Varies according to the type of chocolate used|
– 1 oz of dark chocolate = 12 mg caffeine
– 1 oz of milk chocolate = 4.25 mg caffeine
Jacked-Up on Hot Cocoa
There are hot cocoa powders on the market that have outrageous amounts of caffeine that has been added. Pay close attention to these products because the caffeine level can be dangerous for those with medical issues!
How do they add the extra caffeine? Well, there is an additive called “caffeine anhydrous,” which is extracted from both seeds and leaves of coffee plants. It is dehydrated to produce a concentrated powder form of caffeine.
Caffeine anhydrous can boost a hot cocoa powder product’s caffeine level up to 100 mg per 8 oz. serving.
According to the FDA, consumers should limit their caffeine intake to no more than 400 mg per day.
Hot Cocoa, Hot Chocolate vs. Other Caffeinated Drinks
|Hot Cocoa (8 oz)||5 mg|
|Hot Chocolate ||– 1 oz of dark chocolate 12 mg|
– 1 oz of milk chocolate 4.25 mg
|Regular Coffee (8 oz)||95-165 mg|
|Decaf Coffee (8 oz)||2 mg|
|Espresso (30 mg / 1 shot)||47-64 mg|
Brands and Caffeine Content
|Black Label Coffee (12 oz)||1,555 mg|
|Death Wish Coffee (12 oz)||728 mg|
|10-Hour Energy Drink (1.93 oz)||422 mg|
|Starbucks Grande Coffee (48 oz)||510 mg|
|Monster Energy Drink (16 oz)||160 mg|
|Rogue Cocoa (8 oz)||100 mg|
|Red Bull (8.4 oz)||80 mg|
|Mountain Dew (12 oz)||54 mg|
|Coke (12 oz)||34 mg|
|Iced Tea (8 oz)||19 mg|
|Herbal Tea (8 oz)||0 mg|
The Truth Is in the Mug!
It’s safe to say that you don’t need to worry about how much caffeine is in hot chocolate or hot cocoa.
Hot cocoa is a drink that we can enjoy for years to come without worrying about how much caffeine there is in it. However, beware if you choose to purchase a hot cocoa mix that has caffeine anhydrous added! Children and adults with medical conditions should not drink any beverage with added caffeine.
Hot chocolate (drinking chocolate) is more of a traditional pleasure for Europeans than Americans. We are not quite used to drinking something with a pudding-like consistency. If you happen to love having a little bit of hot chocolate every now and then, no need to worry about the caffeine unless you consume large amounts. It will take a mega-sweet-tooth to be able to get past one hot chocolate because of the intense sweetness and richness.
Either way, you get the lovely hug of chocolate in a mug on a cold and chilly day!
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