Hot chocolate, but caffeinated.
Hot chocolate, but caffeinated. (Photo: Nate & Amanda Howard/Stocksy)

Hot Chocolate Is Better with Coffee

We'll never speak ill of hot cocoa, but sometimes it needs an adult upgrade, especially after heading back to work post-holiday

Hot chocolate, but caffeinated.
Nate & Amanda Howard/Stocksy(Photo)

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If you’re thinking whiskey, we feel you. But a shot of coffee in hot chocolate is sometimes even better, especially after a chilly outdoor adventure. We asked some of our favorite chefs and baristas in cold towns for their go-to mocha recipes. You can thank us later.

Coffee Affogato

Leave it to Italians to mix our two favorite things: ice cream and coffee. This recipe is a favorite of Amy Ninh, an avid snowboarder and the pastry chef at Vail’s Left Bank restaurant. “The ice cream replaces cream and sugar, and the chocolate pairs perfectly with the coffee,” she says. If you want your drink more chocolaty (trust us, you do), drizzle in her homemade chocolate sauce.


  • 4 ounces of a high-quality chocolate bar (like Valhrona, Ninh’s choice)
  • 8 ounces coffee
  • 1 ounce high-quality chocolate ice cream

To Make the Chocolate Sauce

Place chocolate in a bowl and pour one ounce of super-hot coffee over it. Give the chocolate a few minutes to melt, then stir. Keep adding coffee until the chocolate is smooth.

To Assemble the Drink

Scoop the ice cream into a coffee cup. You’ll need a good-sized mug for this. Pour hot coffee over it. Drizzle with a spoonful of the sauce, stir, taste, and add more sauce as needed.

Mexican Hot Cocoa

As a general rule, we trust Chicagoans’ taste in hot beverages. Have you ever been there in the winter? This recipe is courtesy of Melissa Villanueva, who owns Brewpoint Coffee, which has three locations in the city’s suburb of Elmhurst. It’s a touch spicy and plenty sweet. We found ourselves downing this glass and making another.


  • 2 tablespoons Ghirardelli’s hot cocoa mix
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (Be careful not to put in too much!)
  • 1 1/2  cups coffee
  • 3 ounces (about 1/3 cup) vanilla-flavored creamer (or half and half, for a less-sweet mix)
  • Dash of cinnamon

To Assemble the Drink

Mix the cocoa and cayenne together. Stir in the coffee and creamer. Top with cinnamon.

Chocolopolis’ Coffee Drinking Chocolate

What’s the difference between cocoa and drinking chocolate? Cocoa is mixed from powder, while drinking chocolate is literally chocolate that has been melted and stirred into liquid. The latter is much thicker and more indulgent—it’s basically the difference between skim milk and heavy cream. Chocolopolis, a Seattle-based chocolatier, used to sell drinking chocolate by the cup, but these days the company is focusing on its solid chocolates. With a bit of begging, we got Chocolopolis’ old coffee-infused drinking chocolate recipe from chief chocophile Lauren Adler. (If you’re in Seattle and beg extra pathetically, they may even make you a cup.)


  • 1 1/2 ounces dark chocolate (around 50 to 60 percent cacao, or sub in milk chocolate for a sweeter version)
  • 3 ounces (about 1/3 cup) coffee
  • 3 ounces (about 1/3 cup) whole milk (nondairy milk is also fine)

To Assemble the Drink

Add chocolate to a mug. Pour hot coffee over the chocolate and let it sit for a minute so it melts. Whisk vigorously (or use an immersion blender). Heat whole milk until it’s steaming (do not boil). Add the milk to the cup and whisk vigorously again.

Lead Photo: Nate & Amanda Howard/Stocksy

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