Updated: Nov 2, 2020
The hot chocolate market in the UK has been maturing over the past ten years and although not quite on par with the coffee and espresso scene it is certainly catching up fast. Gone are the days of a standard powder being an acceptable option for a discerning drinker. Like wine and coffee, there is an entire world of opportunity to explore with different varieties and origins giving almost endless options for even the most adventurous chocaholic.
I think a good place to start is in what form the chocolate is served. There’s the option of powder stirred into hot water or milk which is the basic hot chocolate we are all familiar with, an entry level starting point, but now we see a shift towards quality and provenance. First of all, using milk or a dairy alternative is the first positive step you can make to serving a better drink - nothing will ever be smoother than perfectly steamed and foamed milk. With so many households now having coffee machines with a milk steamer attachment, this is an easy way to make your perfect hot chocolate, however, using powder, you are limited in the quality available.
The real clincher is to use real chocolate in a drink. No powder bubbles, just real chocolate steamed into milk. The cocoa butter from the chocolate adds weight and a silkiness to the drink, whilst the choices of real chocolate available unlock a world of flavour. To really master your hot chocolate, you need to make sure the ingredients are pure and simple! That’s all it takes, just simple ingredients to make an excellent top-quality chocolate.
The best way to arrive at the optimum chocolate for hot chocolate is to look for single origin. Just like when choosing an espresso, you can find different qualities from different origins of chocolate. Chocolate from the South Americas tends to be fruitier and less acidic than chocolates from Africa or South Asia. And this is why at Marimba they offer white chocolate from Colombia, milk chocolate from Venezuela and dark chocolate from Ecuador.
Chocolate means different things to different people, and this is why having a varied and extensive chocolate menu is so important. For some it is a sweet mug of milk chocolate loaded with cream and marshmallows, for others it is enjoying the intensity of a dark hot chocolate hit. A new trend to the market is the arrival of Ruby chocolate. Billed as the fourth type of chocolate; this naturally pink curiosity has caused confusion for some, but really reinforces the fact that no two chocolates are the same. Perfectly naturally pink, sweet yet sour, and with fruity flavour notes - all completely naturally from the bean and the way the chocolate is processed. No colours or flavours are added. It has been a popular option for those looking for something a little different. At first it was labelled as a passing fad, but Ruby offers such a unique chocolate experience, and is carving out it’s very own section of the market for those that love it. It is here to stay.
What’s your favourite?