The craft behind drinking chocolate: from bean to mug

18 Sep 2023

Chocolate Knowledge Food + Drink Hot Chocolate

Grab a mug of warming cacao, sit down, and relax — it’s time to embrace the world of hot chocolate

When it comes to indulging in a warm, velvety cup of hot chocolate, we want our guests to feel like connoisseurs of cacao-based delights. As passionate purveyors of the finest cacao, we take immense pride in crafting the perfect cup of drinking chocolate.

While many of our guests have been on the other side of a mug, enjoying each and every sip, our chocolatiers have been hard at work to bring you this delightful experience — and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Developing our drinking chocolate is an undeniably sweet yet meticulous process, and we’d love to share it with you.

So, arm yourself with a steaming mug of your favourite hot chocolate, use your favourite hot chocolate sachets, and join us on a journey from bean to mug, as we explore the artistry and science behind our hot chocolate creations.

Coffee beans in a hessian bag

Our journey for hot chocolate perfection

At Hotel Chocolat, our quest for hot chocolate perfection begins with extensive research and development in our Cambridgeshire Inventing Room. This is where the magic begins.

We believe that great hot chocolate starts with exceptional cacao, so we source our beans from the finest cacao farms around the world.

We ensure that each cacao variety brings its unique flavour profile, and our talented team of chocolatiers and chocolate chefs work tirelessly to harness these flavours into our Hotel Chocolat drinking chocolate.

The role of our chocolatiers

But what exactly is a chocolatier, and how do they contribute to the process of creating our hot chocolate products? A chocolatier is a master of their craft, with a deep understanding of cacao and chocolate. They blend artistry with science to create exquisite chocolate products. In the context of hot chocolate, it’s instrumental that we select the right cacao beans, experiment with different roasting profiles, and perfect the cacao-to-milk ratio to achieve the ultimate taste and texture that you lovingly experience with each sip.

If you want to go even further behind the scenes and learn what being a chocolatier is like, it’s probably a good idea to discuss the role of Our Inventors a little further. These are the people who play a huge part in our search for the perfect hot chocolate ingredients.

Adam Geileskey, Head of Chocolate Innovation

As Head of Cocoa Innovation, Adam leads our team of chocolate creatives as they develop an endless supply of innovative new recipes for our stores, cafés, and Tasting Club. As well as doing all this, Adam also leads our sustainable sourcing team in Ghana and around the world. It’s safe to say that this is no easy job!

Kiri Kalenco, Chocolate Development Manager

Also known as the ‘Cocktail Queen’, Kiri is responsible for creating new recipes for Hotel Chocolat and our Tasting Club and specialises – as you might have guessed – in cocktail-inspired chocolates such as the Lady Marmalade presented in our documentary, Chocolate Dreams – Inside Hotel Chocolat.

Rhona MacFayden, Senior Chocolatier

Rhona, our in-house Chocolate Sculptress, is responsible for new areas of innovation, including the creation of our bespoke chocolate moulds, which she develops by modelling and sculpting in chocolate. She also made “Iggy the Chocolate Iguana” who was displayed at our Borough Market restaurant,  Rabot 1745, before we made the difficult decision to close.

Do not fear fellow Londoners — we still have our shop in London Bridge and a cafe in Moorgate for you to experience our cacao-rich treats.

Emma Cope, Couverturier

When new cacao beans arrive at our Inventing Room, it’s Emma who sets to work roasting and conching to find the best possible flavour profile. So, our chocolate-loving taste buds have a lot to thank her for.

David Demaison, Executive Development Chef

David is responsible for the development of our cacao cuisine menu for our award-winning resort on Saint Lucia, as well as developing our café range and innovative Hotel Chocolat products such as The Velvetiser and our Velvetised Chocolate Cream.

Panayiotis Panagiotou, Operational Couverturier

Panayiotis – or Yoddy for short – worked as a Senior Sales Adviser in our Cambridge store before taking up the chocolatier’s palette knife. Following this, he moved to our artisanal bean-to-bar manufacturer in Cambridgeshire to oversee production and quality. If you’d like to become a chocolatier just like Yoddy did, keep an eye on our careers website for new opportunities.

Tarow Loke, Chocolatier

Also known as our Patisserie Princess, Tarrow is famous for her iconic dessert-inspired chocolates — including the renowned Carrot Cake and Treacle Tart varieties.

Tempering couverture chocolate

Stage 1: Ideation and brainstorming

Now, let’s delve into the creative process of developing our hot chocolate flavours. The ideation stage at Hotel Chocolat is a blend of innovation, inspiration, and imagination. And doesn’t that sound delicious?

Our team of chocolatiers and chefs brainstorm ideas, drawing inspiration from various sources such as traditional recipes, seasonal ingredients, and customer feedback. It’s a collaborative effort that involves taste tests, experimentation, and a dedication to pushing the boundaries of hot chocolate with each and every new product release.

Stage 2: Testing and tasting notes

Once we have a concept in mind, it’s time to put it to the test. These tests can often span over weeks and months as we meticulously test different cacao blends, milk varieties, and sweeteners to achieve the perfect balance for your palate.

This is where the expertise of our chocolatiers shines. They use their finely tuned palates to discern the nuances of flavour, aroma, and texture. Tasting notes are recorded, many chocolate treats are devoured, and adjustments are made to refine the recipe until we achieve the desired result.

Stage 3: Ensuring safety and yumminess

Quality and safety are paramount at Hotel Chocolat. Our hot chocolate products undergo rigorous testing to ensure they meet the highest food safety standards. We take pride in delivering hot chocolate experiences that are not only irresistible, but also safe and consistent.

Now we’ve let you in on our in-house process of creating various hot chocolate flavours, let’s explore the extensive range of hot chocolate products that we have to offer. From classic flavours to wacky, innovative creations, we cater to every palate and preference without judgement.

Two women drinking glasses of hot chocolate topped with marshmallows

Elevating the hot chocolate experience with The Velvetiser

The Velvetiser is the crown jewel in our hot chocolate arsenal — and it’s something we’re very proud to share with our guests. It’s the vehicle that transforms our Hotel Chocolat drinking chocolate into a rich, velvety masterpiece. This innovative machine, imagined and brought to you by a chocolatier, takes the guesswork out of hot chocolate preparation.

With precise temperature control and a built-in whisk, it ensures a consistently smooth and luxurious texture every time. It’s the perfect companion for those cosy evenings when you crave the ultimate hot chocolate indulgence.

If you need to stop reading for a well-deserved hot chocolate break, a look at our range of Velvertiser Recipes to get barista-grade hot chocolate at the press of a button.

A world of tried and tested hot chocolate flavours

If you believe yourself to be a chocolate connoisseur like ourselves, you’ll know that our hot chocolate collection spans a wide spectrum of flavours.

Let’s take a closer look at our best-selling hot chocolate flavours.

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

Indulge in the harmonious dance of sweet and salty with our Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. This blend combines the richness of our signature milk chocolate with the irresistible allure of caramel. With a hint of sea salt to balance the sweetness, every sip is a delightfully decadent experience.

Hazelnut Praline Hot Chocolate

Experience the nutty sophistication of our Hazelnut Praline Hot Chocolate. This velvety concoction marries the creaminess of milk chocolate with the moreish crunch of hazelnuts. It’s a symphony of flavours that will transport you to chocolate heaven.

Chilli Hot Chocolate

For those who crave a bit of spice, our Chilli Hot Chocolate delivers a warming kick. We carefully infuse our premium dark chocolate with just the right amount of chilli heat. The result? A hot chocolate with a bold and exciting flavour profile that tingles your taste buds in the most delightful way.

These are just a few examples of the delectable hot chocolate flavours you’ll find in our collection. From the comforting creaminess of our Vanilla White Hot Chocolate to the bittersweet allure of 70% Dark, there’s something for everyone.

We also explore seasonal delights every now and then to keep your taste buds intrigued throughout the year. To try the newest flavours, make sure you always keep an eye out on our website for seasonal releases.

The art of preparing hot chocolate

It goes without saying that hot chocolate isn’t just a beverage; it’s a ritual. We encourage you to embrace the art of preparation. Embrace the convenience of The Velvetiser or craft your hot chocolate by hand. Eith either way, it’s an opportunity to connect with the cacao and savour the anticipation of that first warming sip.

Cacao beside a pestle and mortar

Explore our world of hot chocolate

To delve deeper into the enchanting world of Hotel Chocolat’s hot chocolate, we invite you to explore our complete range of hot chocolate flavours and products. Each cup is a testament to our dedication to the craft of chocolate-making and the artistry of being a chocolatier. Our aim is for you to experience the magic of cacao with every sip and swirl.

If you’d like to learn more about hot chocolate, take a look at our blog where we delve deeper into the flavours and methods of hot chocolate making. Make every hot chocolate experience a memorable one when you have the advice of professional chocolatiers behind you. From the first sip to the last, we’re proud to say that our hot chocolate is an experience unlike any other — and we’ll work hard to keep it that way.

Join us in celebrating the craft of chocolate and indulge in the velvety goodness that is our signature hot chocolate.

Your journey to hot chocolate perfection begins with Hotel Chocolat. Browse our hot chocolate collection today.