As someone who uses a chocolate bar whenever I run out of cocoa powder while baking, I'm by no means a star baker or a well versed chocolatier. To me, cocoa and chocolate are pretty much the same thing in different forms, and it wasn't until recently that I became curious about the differences between hot cocoa vs hot chocolate. With cold weather fast approaching Vancouver, I figured now would be a good time to investigate these two drinks so I know which to order in the future. 

Hot Cocoa vs Hot Chocolate

Athena Huynh

The terms hot chocolate and hot cocoa are rather universal. Especially in the States, there's no legal definition for hot chocolate or hot cocoa, meaning people can call these types of chocolate beverages whichever they want. Wherever you travel to, hot chocolate and hot cocoa will pretty much get you the same thing.

If they're not different, why bother using two different terms? As it turns out, there is a slight difference between the two drinks, but few people take these differences into account when typing out café menus. 

Historically, hot cocoa, as the name suggests, is made from cocoa powder, sugar, and milk. It's thinner than hot chocolate and isn't as rich (but is much sweeter thanks to the added sugar). 

Similar logic can be applied to hot chocolate as well. As the name of the drink suggests, hot chocolate is basically melted chocolate mixed with either hot water or milk. Hot chocolate has better flavor and a thicker texture, and there's usually no sugar added to it since the chocolate itself has sugar in it. 

So what should I drink?

coffee, milk, cappuccino, cream, chocolate, espresso, hot chocolate, mocha, sweet
Alex Kaneshiro

Deciding which beverage to order all comes down to your personal preferences. If you have a major sweet tooth, hot cocoa might be the better option. But if you're someone who enjoys richer flavors, hot chocolate is the better choice. Although hot cocoa is the sweeter drink, both hot chocolate and hot cocoa are full of sugar, so neither is really healthier than the other. 

The more you know about hot cocoa vs hot chocolate, the better off you are. If you're interested in making one yourself to prepare you for the winter, this rich hot cocoa recipe only needs three ingredients and will warm you up. If you want to make the most delicious hot chocolate, this French hot chocolate recipe is a good place to start.