Ever since I started going to college, I would choose what to drink based on the situation I was in. Coffee and tea was for whenever I needed to grind and do all my work, whereas hot chocolate was more like a childhood drink that I wanted because I craved something sweet. Why did I make this distinction? Simply because I thought coffee had caffeine while hot chocolate didn't. It never once occurred to me to pose the question, "does hot chocolate have caffeine?" 

I thought hot chocolate was an innocent drink that, worst case scenario, contained a lot of sugar. Alas, hot chocolate is similar to coffee in that it has caffeine.

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Alex Kaneshiro

In case you weren't completely sure what caffeine is, it's a central nervous system stimulant. Basically, it makes you more alert and (sometimes) gets rid of drowsiness or headaches. However, it's said that if a person consumes to much of it, it could lead to negative health effects such as insomnia or anxiety.

If you're now scared that hot chocolate will keep you up at night, don't worry, because it turns out that there's only a minimal amount of caffeine in hot chocolate. Where does this caffeine come from? It's actually something that you can't get rid of, because it's in the cocoa or chocolate syrup that's used to make hot chocolate. You can decrease the percentage of caffeine in your hot chocolate by adding cream, milk, water, etc, but you really can't get rid of it entirely.

How Much Caffeine Is in Hot Chocolate

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Balim Tezel

To get an idea of how much caffeine is actually in hot chocolate, I compiled a list of popular hot chocolate brands. First off, Starbucks serves hot chocolate that has around 15 mg of caffeine per 8 oz (compared to the 155 mg of caffeine in the same amount of their Pikes Place coffee). Compared to hot chocolate mixes, it has a relatively large amount of caffeine, even though it's nowhere near the caffeine content in coffee.

On the other hand, packaged or instant hot chocolate has a much lower (almost nonexistent) percentage of caffeine. For example, Hershey's, Swiss Miss, and Nestle are all brands that supply hot chocolate packages. However, if you look at their caffeine content, it's around 0.01% of the product.

Although there's barely any caffeine content in hot chocolate mixes, it would still be safe to say that caffeine does exist in hot chocolate. The amount is just extremely low compared to coffee, so many people assume that it doesn't exist.

If you're wary about caffeine content, now you can be more careful whenever you buy or drink hot chocolate. That said, continue to enjoy the classic nostalgic drink without worrying too much about how caffeine might affect you.