One benefit of using a single-use coffee maker that relies on either cups or pods is a diversified line of drinks. It’s not just different blends of coffee; you can also get traditional teas, lattes, and hot chocolate. Hot chocolate, in particular, lends itself well to this. Keurigs come with a preset water temperature of 192 degrees, which is the optimal temperature to extract the coffee from grounds, while hot chocolate mixes and their fatty components start dissolving at right around 93 degrees. Even as your Keurig starts to age from use, it can still brew a clean cup of hot chocolate. Just take extra care in cleaning. Those milk fats can clog it pretty quickly.
We looked at some of the best hot chocolate K-cups available for purchase and wrote reviews of them to help you get a great start on your hot chocolate brewing experience. We also included a brief buyers’ guide at the end for more tips and hints.
|Starbucks Classic Hot Cocoa|
|Two Rivers Hot Cocoa Sampler Pack||40||4.5/5|
|Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa (Milk Chocolate)||50||4.4/5|
|Grove Square Hot Cocoa (Milk Chocolate)||24||4.2/5|
|Mountain High Hot Chocolate (Milk Chocolate)||60||4.1/5|
If you’re looking for a rich, smooth cup of comfort food, the Starbucks Classic Hot Cocoa K-Cup is a great way to take yourself back to your childhood. It’s a snap to use, mixes completely, and quickly dispenses a tall mug of hot cocoa.
What most people look for in hot chocolate is a delicious, smooth drink, and that’s what this one will give you. It’s also easy to use, easy enough that you can teach your little ones how to make their own drinks. It’ll get them ready for the adult world of tea and coffee.
One thing you won’t like is the per-cup cost. It’s steep. For Keurig drinks, which are already pretty expensive, it’s an issue. For hot chocolate, it’s a matter of paying a couple of quarters to make what otherwise might be less than a dime.
While a cup of good, standard hot cocoa is just the trick after an afternoon sledding, there are a lot of different flavors to try. You can find many of them in the Two Rivers Chocolate Hot Cocoa Sampler Pack. It’s a great way to have a variety of flavors available in case you’re just in a mind for something a bit different.
It’s also pretty affordable for K-cup drinks. Considering how much most K-cups will run you, this is something worth considering when buying.
As much as we like the idea of variety, however, the sampler pack has some flavors that are a bit strange: peanut butter cookie, for instance. Milk chocolate hot cocoa is something you’d drink to go with a peanut butter cookie. If you don’t like one or more of the flavors, you wind up buying something you don’t like.
There are two elements to really good hot chocolate. The first is that it’s smooth. Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa (Milk Chocolate) K-cups deliver on the smooth side. Every cup gets fully mixed, and drinking it is like sliding velvet down your throat.
The other element is flavor. Here it’s our sad duty to report that Swiss Miss is a bit of a disappointment. It got the texture right, which we’d think would be the most difficult element, while leaving a flavor that is a little bit off. The best way to describe it is that it’s maybe a little weak. You can even it out in the cup by adding a touch more milk, but you shouldn’t have to do that to get it right.
We do have to acknowledge that it cuts the carbs while doing both of these, so at least it’s healthier than other hot cocoas.
One thing we keep close tabs on while looking at K-cup products is the per-cup cost. Drinks made with a Keurig are much more expensive than drinks made through traditional means. When we see one that’s affordable, we take note. Grove Square Hot Cocoa (Milk Chocolate) is one of the most affordable K-cup hot cocoas we looked at.
There are a few words of caution, however. Getting the right texture and a hot cocoa flavor requires using smaller serving size options on your Keurig. That means for an actual full mug of hot cocoa, you might need to use more than one K-cup. If you need a full mug, it might not be as competitive a great value as it first appears.
No matter how much you concentrate the cocoa, it just isn’t as flavorful as its competitors.
We’d like to suggest that this one be renamed Mountain High All Natural Sludge K Cups. No matter what you do, that’s what you’re apt to get using this with your Keurig. We’re not sure how this works, because the Keurig heats water to twice what it takes to start fully dissolving all the elements of hot chocolate.
We will allow that of the different kinds of hot chocolate we looked at, it’s the most affordable. The per-cup cost is simply the lowest. If you need to buy on a very strict budget, or perhaps a court officer controls your spending, then this is something you can get. It just doesn’t work very well.
And, oh, it tastes terrible. In retrospect, that actually seems pretty important.
Making hot chocolate with a Keurig or similar coffee maker follows very much the same process as making it traditionally, so there aren’t a lot of tricks to buying the mix. Your Keurig heats water to a temperature that will dissolve everything in just about every hot chocolate blend. The most important thing to remember is to do a thorough cleaning of the K-cup holder, the top needle, and the water jet, all of which can get gummed up by the dairy elements of your mix.
That said, there are a couple of things worth keeping in mind when shopping for K-cups with hot chocolate mixes.
As we noted, any hot chocolate will work in a Keurig. Even if yours isn’t available in a K-cup, you can buy a reusable K-cup and make it that way. There is enough diversity of products that if you’re feeling adventurous, there’s something different to try, but you can always go with your favorite brand as a standby for when you want something uncomplicated and soothing.
One great thing about hot chocolate mixes is the wide variety of different flavors. You can get traditional milk chocolate-flavored mix, certainly, but feel free to try out different flavors like mint, raspberry, or hazelnut. There are several variety packs to choose from, too.
K-cups can get pretty expensive compared to just making a single cup of bulk hot chocolate with a kettle and a couple of scoops from a canister. Using K-cups for some national brands can be three times as expensive to make this way, in fact. We’re not talking dollars here, mind you, but a couple of dimes per cup. But it does add up. If you aren’t a hot chocolate aficionado or are on a tight budget, consider looking at lines that are better bargains, or getting a reusable K-cup and a canister of the one you like best.
If hot chocolate is your thing, a Keurig is a great option to consider. We wrote reviews of some of the different kinds you can buy and included a buyers’ guide to give you an understanding of what goes into a great K-cup for hot chocolate.
To us, Starbucks makes the best hot chocolate K-cup around. It’s rich and smooth, but also really expensive. Two Rivers has a great sampler pack that provides a lot of different flavors at an affordable price, but some of the flavors are a bit strange and not all that great. Swiss Miss, a brand that harkens back to childhood, has a smooth hot chocolate that is low on carbs. It can taste a little weak or just off, however. Grove Square’s hot cocoa requires some tweaking in serving size to get the flavor and texture just right. That might mean using two K-cups for one mug of hot cocoa. This would cut significantly into what it has going for it, which is a great per-cup cost. Mountain High is the lowest-priced hot cocoa of all to buy, but there are good reasons for that. Even though it uses water that should easily dissolve all its elements, it still manages to clump pretty often. It also tastes terrible.
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