The Best Hot Chocolate

Hot cocoa mix is a convenient way to get your chocolate fix almost anytime, anywhere. After tasting 27 cocoas and conducting a tasting panel with seven of them, we think that Trader Joe’s Sipping Chocolate ($4) is the best all-around mix you can buy. It’s deep, rich, and not too sweet, making it more versatile than the competition. You can make it into a decadent European-style sipping chocolate or a velvety cup of hot cocoa depending on how much milk or water you use. Get it while you can, though, because it’s only available through December.

ARCHIVED: December 12, 2014
We tasted three new hot cocoa mixes against our favorites from last year, but Trader Joe’s Sipping Chocolate is still the best all-around mix. It stands out from the rest because of its deep, rich flavor that isn’t overly sweet. It’s only available in December, so get it while you can!
Expand Most Recent Updates
June 3, 2014: Updated with notes from our longer-term tests. Also, please note: Trader Joe's Sipping Chocolate is a seasonal item only. We'll be sure to update this guide in the fall once it's available again. Until then, we recommend Guittard Grand Cacao Drinking Chocolate in its place.

Trader Joe's Sipping Chocolate
This rich cocoa has just the right amount of sweetness and can be prepared in a range of styles to suit nearly any taste.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $16 .

Guittard Grand Cacao Drinking Chocolate
This is slightly sweeter, but it’s available year-round, unlike our top pick.

Once the TJ’s runs out for the season, we will shed a single tear. But we can take solace in the fact that Guittard Grand Cacao Drinking Chocolate ($13) is a close runner-up. It’s rich and bitter enough to satisfy a serious chocolate craving without being too cloying. With its year-round availability and mid-range price tag, you can enjoy this mix anytime you want, even in the middle of July if that’s what you’re into.

Also Great
Jacques Torres Classic Hot Chocolate
It’s thick and decadent, if that’s your style, but we found it too rich to drink regularly.

If you prefer a thicker, richer mix, Jacques Torres Classic Hot Chocolate ($18 plus shipping) actually topped our taste test panel last year and again in our most recent tasting. It’s definitely delicious, but while its viscosity and richness add to its appeal in tasting-sized portions, it can be hard to finish a full mug of it. That’s why it’s not our main pick.

Table of contents

Why you should trust me

Over the course of my culinary career that spans more than 15 years, I have been a line cook in fine dining kitchens, a recipe developer, food editor, food stylist, and food writer. You can check out my guides to chocolate bars and boxed chocolates. During my time in the Martha Stewart test kitchen, we taste-tested everything from honey to hot dogs. I have had plenty of experience in being discerning about food products and choosing which ones are worth the money and which are just plain junk.

What is hot cocoa/chocolate?

The short answer is that hot cocoa is made with cocoa powder and hot chocolate should have actual chunks of melted chocolate in it1. That being said, there are many brands that are mislabeled, and our pick is one of them. As Serious Eats said in their round-up of mixes, “Most of us are guilty of using the terms interchangeably…” adding, “We included both since, well, we’d be happy chugging back either.” I couldn’t agree with them more, though I’ll take high-grade cocoa powder over low-grade chocolate every time.

How we picked

Based on my professional experience and that of the Sweethome kitchen team, we decided most adults looking for a “best” hot cocoa want something that has a pronounced chocolate favor and a texture that coats the mouth pleasantly. Although a thinner, sweeter hot cocoa like Swiss Miss was once de rigueur (at least it was when I was a kid), people have been gravitating toward a richer, darker cup of cocoa in recent years.

That said, we didn’t want a cocoa that was too thick. People may line up for the almost melted-chocolate-bar-in-a-cup hot chocolates served at places like Jacques Torres Chocolate or MarieBelle, but these can also be cloying when drunk regularly, which makes them more of a once-in-a-while treat. We were looking for something more quaffable, a beverage that is enjoyable the whole way through, not just the first few sips.


We wanted something that tastes like what you would make if you took the time to get in front of your stove to whisk up some cocoa powder, sugar, milk, maybe some vanilla, a pinch of salt—and if you’re feeling indulgent, some high-quality dark couverture chocolate to give it that extra mouth-coating thickness. But we wanted it in a convenient mix that’s easy to make at a moment’s notice, with or without a stove.

We took a close look at each contender’s ingredient list. Better mixes have cocoa or chocolate at the top of the list. We also noted whether mixes incorporated sugar or corn syrup. Many mixes contain milk powder or soy products. This doesn’t necessarily make them bad, it’s just good to know what you’re buying, especially if someone in your house is sensitive or allergic. Gluten-free declarations were hard to find on any packaging that I looked at. If gluten is a concern for you, it’s always a good idea to check for barley malt in the ingredient list, and make sure it wasn’t processed in a facility that handles wheat.

A good barometer for how rich the end result will be is the ratio of mix to liquid in the preparation instructions. For example, Jacques Torres and MarieBelle have you mixing two parts milk to one part mix. The resulting concoction could easily double as a dessert sauce. There are exceptions though; Lake Champlain Organic Hot Chocolate (another mislabeled brand, as it only has cocoa powder) advises only one heaping tablespoon of mix to eight ounces of milk but produced a similarly rich, though thinner, cocoa taste.

We gravitated mainly towards brands that are available in the supermarket or can be ordered through reliable online shops. What good is a mix if you have to drive to a specialty shop on the other side of town or wait more than a week to receive it in the mail? We decided not to emphasize price. When you’re an adult, hot cocoa is a treat, and when you’re talking 30¢ per serving versus $1 for something you don’t drink on a regular basis, it’s just not that big a deal.

In researching brands to bring in to test, we scratched any mix that had a flavor added to it. That means no mint, cinnamon, caramel, mocha, spicy chile, or anything else that would distract from the chocolate itself. Since Abuelita and other brands of Mexican hot chocolate tablets are flavored with cinnamon, they weren’t included in this review.

I scoured Amazon to look at the top-selling mixes, and once I got past all of the K-Cup inserts for Keurig machines, there was a glut of cocoa mixes. Trying to decide which cocoa mixes to bring in to test based on Amazon reviews was a daunting task, because at the end of the day, you have to try it yourself to see if you really like it. Still, we enlisted the help of a panel of tasters to help guide us to something that would be universally liked.

After hours of research, reading articles by Cook’s Illustrated (subscription required), Good Housekeeping, Epicurious and Serious Eats, consulting former food editorial colleagues, and considering 33 mixes, I compiled a list of 24 different hot cocoas to test. The initial samples ranged from truly decadent artisanal brands to packets found in the supermarket. We added four more mixes for our most recent round of tastings.

How we tested


I enlisted the help of fellow Sweethome writer Christine Cyr Clisset to tackle one of the biggest tastings I’ve ever done in a single sitting.

In our first round, Christine and I set out to taste 24 different mixes, all prepared according the their package instructions, comparing milk and water preparations side by side. For the brands that required milk, we used 2 percent reduced fat. We conducted the testing as we would a wine tasting, spitting the mixtures out, and eating saltines and drinking water between sips. In this way, we minimized palate fatigue and were able to give each of the 24 mixes a fair shot. The initial tasting was not blind, but we did try to go from lightest to darkest, so as not to coat our palates with something heavy and decadent before tasting a lighter supermarket packet.

We were looking for samples that had the most pronounced, clean dark chocolate flavor. We wanted cocoas that were rich but drinkable; thick, but not custardy. Too heavy a hand with sugar was bad, but a pinch of salt was good. To put it simply, we wanted balance. Complementary flavorings, like vanilla, are just that—complementary. At the end of the day, we wanted deep chocolate flavor that didn’t taste fake, watery, or too sweet. We talked, tasted, debated, and agreed on 10 finalists.

After resting our palates, we tasted again and whittled the testing pool down to seven samples, which were: Scharffen Berger Sweetened Natural Cocoa Powder ($15), Guittard Grand Cacao Drinking Chocolate ($13), Dagoba Authentic Drinking Chocolate ($35 for three) Trader Joe’s Sipping Chocolate ($4), Jacques Torres Classic Hot Chocolate ($18), Lake Champlain Organic Hot Chocolate ($12), Land O’ Lakes Cocoa Classics Chocolate Supreme ($12).

I then invited four friends over for a blind taste test. I asked them to taste each one and when they were done, pick their top three picks, ranking them first, second, and third. I also asked them to call out the one that they liked the least and why.


I drank full cups of every brand in the blind taste test over the course of a week. I mixed them with different things, soy milk, water, and almond milk, and what I found was that the ones that were easier to drink (not too sweet, not too thick) were the cups that I finished.

After the data was compiled and analyzed, we had a spirited debate that had us considering the reliability of small samples and the overall drinkability of a seriously thick cup of hot chocolate.

For our most recent round of testing, Christine and I tasted our winners from last year pitted against three promising mixes we hadn’t tried. The results were surprisingly similar to last year’s.

Our pick

Trader Joe's Sipping Chocolate
This rich cocoa has just the right amount of sweetness and can be prepared in a range of styles to suit nearly any taste.

Trader Joe’s Sipping Chocolate ($4) is our pick because it has a well-balanced dark chocolate flavor, drinkable texture, and is easily attainable (between the months of October and December) wherever there’s a Trader Joe’s—or you can even buy it on Amazon with Prime shipping through a third party for a markup.


This was well-liked by five out of six tasters. During our taste tests, Trader Joe’s got three second-place nods. Tasting notes included “bitter in a good way, woodsy,” “all chocolate all the time,” “excellent grown-up hot chocolate.” In the initial tasting, Christine and I thought “sweet at first, but then nice bitter tones” and “well balanced, velvety, and satisfying”.

Each tin has about nine servings, and at $4, that comes out to $.44 per serving. Even though the name suggests that there is chocolate in this mix, it is cocoa-based. It’s made with alkalized cocoa, which means it’s smoother and less acidic, and has a deeper chocolate flavor than natural cocoa powder.

Tasters praised its balance of sweet and bitter, and I thought it had just the right amount of salt. The package gives a couple of options for preparation, one for a thick European-style sipping chocolate and one for a less thick, but still very satisfying cup of hot cocoa.

The mix itself is not too sweet, leaving room for the drinker to sugar it up to their liking, although I made it as-is for tasting purposes. The ingredient list doesn’t list any milk products, but the package does warn that it may contain traces of milk. I assume that has to do with the facility that the mix is made in. For those of our friends who have issues with dairy, Trader Joe’s Sipping Chocolate mixes really well with soy and almond milks, as well as water.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The short season for this mix is a bit of a bummer, but if you act fast and get your hands on a tin, you’ll see why it has such a passionate and loyal following. Also, if you prefer a sweeter or thicker hot cocoa, you might want to go with the Jacques Torres; it will satisfy the most intense chocolate craving.

Runner-up pick


*At the time of publishing, the price was $16 .

Guittard Grand Cacao Drinking Chocolate
This is slightly sweeter, but it’s available year-round, unlike our top pick.

Guittard Grand Cacao Drinking Chocolate gets an honorable mention for being very good (there’s a significant drop off in quality between this choice and third place), just not quite as good as the TJ’s or Jacques Torres (our step up).

For one thing, it’s labeled correctly! It has cocoa powder and ground chocolate.  In the blind tasting, it got one second-place vote and two third-place nods. Tasters said that it was “sweet, rich,” “Deep dark chocolate, very sweet,” “Heavy chocolate flavor, not overly sweet,” and “deep, smooth mouthfeel.” The initial tasting yielded comments like “nice balance of sweet and bitter” and “very good, great texture”. For me, personally, I had a hard time choosing between this mix and the Trader Joe’s.

I still preferred this cocoa in the last round of tasting against the new contenders because I like the bitter chocolate to sugar balance, which makes this one more bitter, less sweet. Christine felt that it was a little chalky and thick, but she did applaud its bitterness and wrote that she could drink more of the Guittard than the Williams-Sonoma mix.

It also has a longer availability than our main pick, so if you need a dark, drinkable cocoa later in the season, this is your mix. It’s a little sweeter than our pick, but I didn’t have a problem with that.

The step-up pick

Also Great
Jacques Torres Classic Hot Chocolate
It’s thick and decadent, if that’s your style, but we found it too rich to drink regularly.

There’s no denying that the Jacques Torres Classic Hot Chocolate ($18) was a crowd pleaser, and is certainly a great second pick for someone looking for a thicker, more velvety cup.

During our original tests, Jacques Torres Classic Hot Chocolate got two first-place nods and one third-place mention in the blind test. It won out again this year when we pitted it against the equally pricy and rich Williams-Sonoma Classic Hot Chocolate. Notes included “thick, rich,” “deep, lush chocolate, sweet thick texture,” “rich chocolate flavor, very sweet,” and “too thick for drinking chocolate, excellent flavor.” (Just an interesting side note, there were two women and two men in the blind test, and the two men rated this one as their first-place picks.)

Although the Jacques Torres mix got two first-place nods (more than the Trader Joe’s), we ultimately decided to go with Trader Joe’s as our top pick. We were considering overall drinkability. I thought it was so rich that it would be too much to drink a whole cup of it. The question I kept asking after the taste test was, “Yes this is good, but do I want a whole cup of this? Do I want to drink the equivalent of a melted chocolate bar three to four times a week?”

My former colleague, Sam Seneviratne, Senior Associate Food Editor at Everyday Food and creator of the blog Love Comma Cake, put it this way: “When I want cocoa I like it to be thick and rich but not like pudding. I like the rich stuff but I usually increase the amount of milk so that it’s a little easier to drink. I don’t want anything that keeps my spoon upright.”

Michael Zhao, Associate Editor at The Wirecutter, hit the nail on the head when he said, “I think people are picking the Jacques Torres because it provides a better sensory experience in a small dose. But if it came to drinking a mug of it, most people would prefer the less rich, less thick Trader Joe’s.”

Although I just made my case for a thinner, more drinkable hot cocoa, if you are looking for a thick, super decadent treat, this very well may be your jam. This mix does contain whole milk powder and cornstarch, so you can’t cheat it by just mixing with hot milk. It needs to cooked on the stove to activate the cornstarch so that it thickens and any starchy flavor cooks out. We’re talking two-to-one milk-to-mix ratio here. This stuff is thick and it came to party.

Long-term testing notes

I drank up all of my Trader Joe’s Sipping Chocolate well before last winter was over, so I had to wait until November to get another tin. The resulting cup of cocoa from this year’s batch tasted just as I remembered, but the flavor still took me by surprise. The drink isn’t very thick and the color looks innocuous, you don’t expect such well-defined chocolatey flavor to come from a thinner cocoa. The milkiness ensures that you can finish a whole cup, and the well-balanced flavor means you won’t be bored doing it.

Mixing tip

Even a cocoa purist can enjoy a satisfying cup of chocolate from a mix. You can take a dark chocolate mix, such as our pick, and give it different flavor profiles depending on your mood.

When I asked Dawn Perry, Senior Food Editor at Bon Appetit, whether she used cocoa mixes, she said that while she wasn’t inclined to using them, she also wasn’t opposed to the idea, adding, “I do think you can doctor a mix to make it more delicious … add more chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon.” Personally, I like to add strips of fresh orange zest to my cocoa. If your cocoa is a little too sweet, you can offset that sweetness by adding a small pinch of salt. This can be added while on the stove or in the cup; just make sure to mix well.

The competition

Williams-Sonoma Classic Hot Chocolate mix was a strong competitor. It has a richer chocolate flavor than grocery store brands, but it’s sweeter and less balanced than our top pick. It stays true to its name because Guittard chocolate shavings and vanilla yield a milky cup of cocoa. For the price we felt it was a little insipid, especially compared to our luxury pick.

Starbucks Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix was too sweet and thin. It tastes exactly like the hot chocolate they sell in the stores. There’s more sugar and vanilla than chocolate, and the overall flavor is milky and bland.

Bellagio Sipping Chocolate is a decent cocoa if you like vanilla—lots of vanilla. It’s pretty sweet, but wasn’t as sweet as other mixes and had a deeper chocolate flavor, which is nice. The list of ingredients includes cocoa butter and chocolate liqueur, which give it a smooth mouthfeel.

Equal Exchange Organic Hot Cocoa Mix wasn’t good. Once mixed, it had an overwhelming smell of mushrooms, and the flavor was medicinal. We thought it smelled like barley tea and were turned off by its watery and unsatisfying texture.

Scharffen Berger Sweetened Natural Cocoa Powder: It got favorable ratings in the initial taste test, we thought it had a nice, bitter chocolate flavor. The testers agreed on the bitter part, calling it “chalky” and “dry, almost in a tannic kind of way.”

Dagoba Authentic Drinking Chocolate: Although we liked this one a lot in the first tasting, noting its “bitter, great chocolate flavor” and “a bit chalky, but a nice balance,” the blind tasters called it “malty, forgettable” and “Ovaltine.” Ouch.

Lake Champlain Organic Hot Chocolate received one first-place vote in the blind test, but the others thought it was “thin, weak” and “light chocolate flavor.” In the initial tasting, we thought it had a classic cocoa flavor, but no one appreciates the classics anymore.

Land O’ Lakes Cocoa Classics Chocolate Supreme: With comments from the testers like “salty” and “tasted artificial, like boxed chocolate milk” it’s a wonder that no one chose this mix as least liked.

Mixes that didn’t make it past the first round:

Cadbury Drinking Chocolate: I was hoping it would remind me of a creme egg, but it was milky, thin, and light on chocolate flavor. It was, however, super sweet, so maybe it did resemble a creme egg.

Chuao Abuela (packaging and name has changed to Chuao Deluxious Dark Drinking Chocolate, but it’s the same recipe): With a smooth, velvety texture and strong chocolate flavor, we were still underwhelmed due to its extreme sweetness and almost artificial aftertaste.

Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa: Artificial-tasting with a weird mouth coating that didn’t feel natural, and it was more sweet than chocolatey.

Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa: It didn’t stand out in this line-up. Very mild and milky.

Godiva: This was another contender in the initial big 10, but got cut for being too sweet.

Lake Champlain Traditional Hot Chocolate: Very similar to the Lake Champlain Organic Hot Chocolate, except this one wasn’t as balanced. It was much more sweet than bitter.

Les Confitures A l’Ancienne: This was one of my favorites going into this tasting, but when tasted side-by-side with all of the others, its subtle notes were lost. Still, it’s a quality hot cocoa, deep and complex, albeit a bit chalky.

MarieBelle: If I could describe this hot chocolate in two words, they would be “extremely thick.” As soon the the mixture starts to cool down, it intensely thickens, to the point where it was just pudding in a cup. That being said, if you have a tin of this stuff in your house, it would work really well as a dessert sauce.

Nesquik: What can I say? It’s Nesquik. It’s sweet, slightly malty, and weak on chocolate. Definitely a kid’s drink.

Nestle Dark Chocolate: While I have very fond memories from childhood about this mix (I would get to have a cup of this while visiting my grandmother’s office) it just didn’t stack up compared to the others. It had a real chocolate milk taste, but not remarkable.

Ovaltine: Ovaltine will always taste like Ovaltine. Seriously malty with a mild chocolate flavor.

Sarabeth’s Hot Chocolate Parisienne: This one made it to the top 10, but not the top seven. While it was thick and rich, we ultimately decided that it was more sweet than chocolatey.

Silly Cow Farms: Very sweet, light in color and flavor. Mild chocolate flavor, but very fragrant.

Swiss Miss Dark Chocolate Sensation: One of two Swiss Miss entries in our tasting line-up, we didn’t think it was too bad, compared to the Swiss Miss Rich Chocolate. It had a distinct chocolate flavor, but it was very sweet and artificial tasting.

Swiss Miss Rich Chocolate: Although it gets points for nostalgia, this was a stalwart in my home growing up, it now just tastes sweet and artificial.

Whole Foods 365 Organic Hot Cocoa: Tasted more like vanilla and less like chocolate. We also thought it was very fruity, as if they used a lot of vanilla to cover up inferior cocoa.

Wrapping it up

We stand by the Trader Joe’s Sipping Chocolate as our favorite crowd-pleasing mix. The deep, dark chocolate flavor paired with a conservative amount of sweetness makes it perfect to mix into a decadent cup of European-style sipping chocolate or a milkier all-American cup of cocoa. With the added bonus of a $4 price tag, this little tin will be my go-to for a satisfying warm up in the coming winter months. And if you happen upon this guide in the unfortunate months of January to September, when the Trader Joe’s isn’t on shelves, get the Guittard Grand Cacao Drinking Chocolate.


1. What is the difference between cocoa powder and chocolate? I’m glad you asked.  In the chocolate-making process, cacao beans are ground to make chocolate liquor. The liquor is cooled and hardened, and then pressed to extract as much cocoa butter as possible.  Cocoa solids are what remain, which are then dried and ground into a fine powder. This is what we know as unsweetened cocoa powder that’s sold in supermarkets for baking. Cocoa powder is available as natural and Dutched or Dutch processed. Dutching cocoa powder means to treat it alkaline, potassium carbonate to be exact. This process lowers the acidity, darkens the color, and deepens the flavor.

What about that cocoa butter that was extracted? Well, that goes into making chocolate. Unsweetened chocolate is cocoa liquor mixed with additional cocoa butter. This is also known as “baking chocolate”, and I’m sure most of us got a harsh lesson as kids that one time when we thought we were pulling a fast one on our parents by sneaking into the pantry to steal a square of that stuff only to find out that not all chocolate is sweet like a Hershey bar.

Adding sugar and flavorings (like vanilla) to unsweetened chocolate transforms it into semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, depending on sweetness and percentage of cocoa solids. There is no regulation in the United States on what constitutes bittersweet and semisweet, so those percentages you see so proudly labelled on bars are kind of arbitrary. It’s best to just find something that suits your taste. Jump back.

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  1. Erin Zimmer, Taste Test -- The Best Hot Chocolates, Serious Eats , December 13th, 2010
  2. James Oliver Curry, Taste Test: The Best Hot Chocolates , Everyday with Rachel Ray , December 2006
  3. Carolina Santo-Neves , Taste Test: Instant Hot Chocolate , Epicurious
  4. Taste Test: The Best Hot Chocolate , Huffington Post , August 31st, 2012
  5. Debby Goldsmith , Taste Test: Hot Cocoa , Good Housekeeping

Originally published: December 12, 2014

We actively moderate the comments section to make it relevant and helpful for our readers, and to stay up to date with our latest picks. You can read our moderation policy FAQ here.

  • james_elwell

    Was any consideration given to homemade mixes?

    • sygyzy

      Are you being serious?

    • Harvey

      I just roughly priced out Alton Brown’s recipe: (1c)cocoa, (2.5c)p. milk, (2c)p. sugar, (2tsp)corn starch, (1tsp) pickling salt. It sums to about 5.6 cups and at 1/3 cup per serving makes 16.7 servings. Using some really rough guesses on pricing using google shopping and walmart (but not for good cocoa), I reached a price of $0.66 per cup. Almost all of the cost is in the cocoa and the powdered milk. You could probably save more by mixing directly with milk if that’s an option. It might taste better, too.

      Then there’s the stove top recipes which consist of cocoa, regular milk, granulated sugar, and salt (any type). You could mix all of those dry ingredients and then add milk. I’ve often wondered if I could make it using the frothing wand on my espresso machine this way. I haven’t priced out this recipe, but it’s bound to be cheaper since the milk and sugar are cheaper.

    • Michael Zhao

      Yes, but we do not deal in recipes. If you’re into thoroughly tested recipes, I highly recommend getting a Cooks Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen subscription.

  • Don Nelson

    Thanks for the article! We’ll have to try Trader Joes; our choice has always been Penzey’s. Didjya try Penzey’s in your testing?

  • sygyzy

    Wow this is amazing. Thank you for all the work you put into this. I am a hot chocolate fan but since there aren’t many reviews/roundups on them and because it seems like there are so many choices, I just gave up on buying them. A real paralysis of choice.

  • Paul Mulner

    Here’s a second vote for Penzey’s. We also love the Starbucks mix that you can buy at Costco.

  • Guest

    Abuelita! Abuelita!

  • Nicholas

    Can you share how you prepared the Trader Joe’s hot chocolate? I must have made it wrong, because it was incredibly disappointing after reading about how many people liked it as the “less rich, less thick” alternative to stronger mixes.

    I picked some up last night after and all 3 of us were surprised at how rich it was. I don’t know if we got the goateed evil twin mirror universe version of the mix, but I’m confused that you could refer to it as “not too sweet” and “not be the most decadent mix “. Even when we diluted the mix with more milk, the richness was still there, just less constant. I definitely made the hot chocolate version, not the sipping version, but there was no way any of us could have finished more than half a cup.

    I enjoyed reading about all the tests you did for the mixes, and I’ve been pleased with past recommendations, but this one so far is a bust. I’d love to hear any ideas on how I could prepare it differently.

    • Michael Zhao

      There’s 2 preparations recommended on the box. The first one is a thick “sipping chocolate” preparation. The second is a more traditional hot cocoa version.

  • Nello Lucchesi

    The ratings on Amazon seem to indicate that Trader Joe’s stores are selling different products (check the ingredients!) under the same name. (See, for example:

  • A.D.

    What about this?
    Saw it on your best gift we want to give list along side a Mexican frother(?), described as ‘wonderful’, but bit puzzled not to see it reviewed here?

  • eaadams

    This sipping chocolate is really good. Got it in the stocking this year. I had only ever known instant swiss miss. But this stuff is phenominal

  • JeramyPippin

    How to use the best Hot Cocoa Mix?

  • EmilieSeltzer

    Has any best company know about this Hot Cocoa Mix?

  • Rob MacLeod

    Really enjoyed and welcomed your review. Why is it so hard to find hot chocolate in restaurants and bakeries, let alone coffee shops? Another topic…

    I was sad to see no sign of the Trader Joe product in our store or online but am hopeful for the fall. Why is HC only a winter product when people drink coffee and tea all year?

    The product you did not include but I recommend is from Allegro Coffee. They have a range of flavors and mixed with some unsweetened chocolate, it makes for a great combination.

    Keep up the great work!

  • Priyamehra
  • ABC

    I just spoke to my local TJ’s (2 hours away) to check on availabilty before driving up and while they had it in stock, it’s still the new awlful formula, not the the older better verision with cocoa powder, cane sugar, cocoa liquor, cocoa butter. What was on thier shelf was the cheaper ingredients with sugar,cooca processed with alkali, etc. DO NOT BUY. This change happend somewhere in the fall of 2012, which version did you test?

    • tony kaye

      I believe we tried out the old formula – and we’re aware of the new “not as good” formula. I’m sure we’ll be revisiting this in the near future with the holidays coming up. Thanks for the feedback!

      • Chris

        Why does your article say “Last updated Dec 12th, 2014″ with a note saying ” Trader Joe’s Sipping Chocolate is still the best all-around mix. It stands out from the rest because of its deep, rich flavor that isn’t overly sweet.”??? I ordered this based on your recommendation and the one that arrived contains the new ingredients and the taste isn’t that great. It’s too sweet. It’s obvious from the reviews on Amazon that the formula has changed and isn’t what it once was when you reviewed it. This article does NOT address this at all and many (like me) are ordering this at the inflated price on Amazon and getting a subpar product. This is a letdown and I don’t know that I can trust this website now. Your comment from two months ago says “we’ll be revisiting this in the near future with the holidays coming up”. The article says you tasted three new brands but you clearly haven’t addressed the change in formula of the Trader Joe’s. You are aware of it but your website chose to slap this update on here and put this link on the top of your front page with the word “new” next to it. This is lazy and disingenuous, thanks for wasting my $15.

        • tony kaye

          This is my fault. The recipe we tested last year was the current recipe offered by Trader Joe’s. We never tested the pre-2012 formula as it was already changed. I’ve corrected my comment from 2 months ago that referred to the “old recipe” as the 2013, not the pre-2012 stuff.

          Sorry for any confusion, but we stand by our pick. The current offering of Trader Joe’s hot chocolate was chosen as the best by different researchers, and is the best hot chocolate around. Taste is subjective, and I’m sorry you’re not a fan, but for most people this is the best. We have other recommendations you can. If you’re that torn up about $15 hot chocolate, I’ll personally buy you a tin of one of our other picks up top. Happy Holidays.

  • franckhertz

    Lots of powders, but the best drinking chocolate I ever had was L.A. Burdick’s “Milk Drinking Chocolate.” I prefer crumbled pierces of chocolate that melt into the milk over powders. I wish you had tested the Lake Champlain old world drinking chocolate!

    In terms of richness, just use less than the package says. the L.A. burdick mix:milk ratio was insane. I cut it back- any “too rich” mix can be dialed back by using less, no?

  • bowie101

    Callebaut Cocoa Powder ? hersheys? how do you not deal with the elephant/gorilla in the room? you can’t simply ignore Hershey’s, not in this country!

  • Phil Saviano

    To the hot chocolate aficionados who are enjoying this report, I’d like to suggest that they try some genuine Mexican hot chocolate tablets from Oaxaca. We import and sell the La Soledad chocolate and Mayordomo chocolate at Viva Oaxaca Folk Art in Boston. We offer several varieties from each brand, including cinnamon, vanilla, MOKA and low-sugar blends. Melt the bars in hot milk to make a cocoa with a unique deep, rich flavor. Try some! Do a web search for Viva Oaxaca Boston to easily find us online.

  • Rob MacLeod

    I love this review and this shared interest in hot chocolate. A couple others that are fairly available (unlike the infamous old version of Trader Joe’s) are from Allegro and Caribou. The former is the same company that makes fair trade coffee and tea and for winter, they have a line of 4 different hot chocolate powders. These are available from and through Whole Foods. Each has a different flavor and also level of cocoa with the darkest around 70% and very tasty. Caribou Coffee also makes a nice hot chocolate that you can purchase in the outlets and also order online. It comes in the form of small chocolate chunks.
    My personal favorite is still to create original concoctions by mixing these various powders and nibs with straight cocoa powder and even a piece of a good, dark chocolate bar. The variety is endless and I love the mystery of sampling the result.

  • Christine Feaster

    I’m grateful that you freely published such extensive notes as to your testing methods, judges remarks, and deeper thoughts about highly ranked samples that were good in small doses but may be too cloying for everyday drinking.

    I purchased TJ’s based on this article’s review (the new formula). Personally, I found TJ to be on the sweet side, but less so than the contenders in your lineup. Some days I like it sweet, other days I add a pinch of salt to cut the sweetness and a tsp of Medaglia D’oro espresso powder to deepen the dark chocolate flavor.

    Have you, by any chance, tested Trader Joe’s Organic Hot Cocoa? A box of 10 individual packets runs $4. I’m curious to see how it fares against TJ’s Sipping Chocolate in a blind taste test. Prepared with hot water it still delivers a rich cocoa flavor, not thin watery hot cocoa.

    • tony kaye

      We’ll definitely have to revisit those when the weather gets cold again!

  • LineChaser

    Comparing hot cocoas, but excluding the ones that are not pre-sweetened, is like comparing hamburger places, but excluding the ones that don’t have a drive-through window.

    • tony kaye

      Hmm interesting analogy