The History of Hot Chocolate

Words: Devon Bowers

As the days get shorter and the weather turns cold, nothing beats the warmth and comfort of heavenly hot chocolate. Praise be to the inventors of this supremely delicious drink. If you’re curious as to how it came about, put on the kettle, get out those mini marshmallows and slurp up some interesting facts, as we dive into the history of hot chocolate.

hot chocolate

The Origins of Hot Chocolate

Long before solid chocolate bars, chocolate first came about in liquid form. It all started with the Mayan civilisation who made a chocolate drink – by grinding cocoa seeds into a paste and mixing it with water, cornmeal, chilli peppers and other ingredients – which was served cold. These OG baristas even made it into a thick foam by pouring it back and forth, from the cup to the pot! This bitter brew, which was called ‘xocoatl’, was introduced to the Spanish, who made it their own by sweetening it with cinnamon, sugar and other spices.

The aristocratic nature of the drink led to chocolate being referred to as ‘the drink of the gods’.

Hot chocolate was introduced to the rest of Europe in the 17th century; it became a popular luxury item that was served exclusively to upper class society members and royalty, but they simply called it ‘chocolate’. They even started opening up Chocolate Houses, which would be the equivalent to our modern coffee shops (we should bring these back).

Hot Chocolate

In the 1800s, Coenraad Johannes Van Houten produced the first cocoa powder press in the Netherlands. With this press, he was able to separate the greasy cocoa butter from the cacao seeds, resulting in a purer chocolate powder. He discovered that this powder was easier to incorporate into milk and water. With this finding, he was also able to understand how to make solid chocolate! It was then that liquid chocolate was called ‘hot chocolate’.

Hot Chocolate’s Healing Properties

The pure cacao drink that was first created, was high in calories and antioxidants, and had quite a high dosage of caffeine. Of course, many believed that it had healing properties, such as treating fever, liver disease and stomach disorders.

During the Revolutionary War, medics would give hot chocolate to treat the wounded and dying soldiers.

In fact, the history of hot chocolate shows that it was even used in times of war. The Mayan and the Aztecs used to drink cacao before going into battle. Even during the Revolutionary War, medics would give hot chocolate to treat the wounded and dying soldiers. Hot chocolate also became a form of currency instead of giving actual wages to soldiers.

Hot Chocolate


Today, the powdered mixes which contain processed chocolate and a lot of filler ingredients don’t offer much nutrition. You will need to look at having authentic chocolate to get those antioxidants, which are believed to lower blood pressure and have cancer-fighting properties. Hot chocolate contains theobromine which is a mood elevator – no wonder we can’t get enough of it!

Hot Choc or Hot Cocoa?

Have you ever had that awkward moment when you order a hot chocolate at a restaurant and instead of getting the powdered one you know, it is a thick-looking chocolate sauce? Well, that is because proper hot chocolate is the latter!

Hot Chocolate

The difference between ‘hot chocolate’ and ‘hot cocoa’ is cocoa butter. Hot cocoa is made with the powder, which we commonly use, that has removed the rich cocoa butter from the ground cacao beans. Hot chocolate is made directly from bar chocolate, which contains cocoa butter.

Hot Chocolate Today

Today, hot chocolate can be found anywhere in the world. Both kinds, hot chocolate and hot cocoa, are very much a comfort drink during winter. In and around European countries, they mostly enjoy the thick and rich, glossy hot chocolate, while the rest of the world enjoys the thinner, instant powdered version.

The difference between ‘hot chocolate’ and ‘hot cocoa’ is cocoa butter.

Hot chocolate can be made with dark or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into pieces and stirred into warm milk with some sugar. Hot cocoa is an instant powder, which often includes powdered milk or other dairy ingredients, so you just need to add boiling water. You can even make cocoa, which is hot milk and cocoa powder mixed together with sugar, if you have a sweet tooth.

Hot Chocolate Recipes

Grab your favourite mug and indulge in these delectable hot chocolate recipes.

Peanut Butter Bourbon Hot Chocolate

Why have bourbon neat when you can pour it in your hot choc? This peanut-buttery hot chocolate is the ultimate night cap!

Recipe for Peanut Butter Bourbon Hot Chocolate

Gin Hot Chocolate with Homemade Marshmallows

Make your hot chocolate warmer with a shot of gin. Add homemade marshmallows for the perfect cup.

Recipe for Gin Hot Chocolate with Homemade Marshmallows

Hot Chocolate

Hazelnut Hot Chocolate

Keep it simple and delicious with this heavenly Hazelnut Hot Chocolate, yum!

Recipe for Hazelnut Hot Chocolate

Orange and Dark Hot Chocolate

The classic combo of orange and chocolate – an extremely decadent, rich and dark hot chocolate!

Recipe for Orange and Dark Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate

White Chai Hot Chocolate

This delicious White Chai Hot Chocolate is definitely a winter warmer.

Recipe for White Chai Hot Chocolate

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

Who doesn’t love the combo of chocolate and peanut butter? The tastiest way to warm up a winter’s day!

Recipe for Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

Rocky Road Hot Chocolate

The ultimate cold weather comfort – rich, creamy hot chocolate gets a makeover with amaretti biscuits and glacé cherries.

Recipe for Rocky Road Hot Chocolate

Nutty Hot Chocolate Made with Homemade Almond Milk

Making your own almond milk is so easy, and a definite must for anyone who likes to use non-dairy alternatives in drinks and other recipes.

Recipe for Nutty Hot Chocolate Made with Homemade Almond Milk

Want more? Try these decadent & droolworthy chocolate recipes, or learn about how chocolate was used as a form of currency in ancient Maya.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>