Coffee vs. Hot Chocolate

Ah, a good ol’ cup of Joe and a comforting mug of hot chocolate remain two of our favorite beverages. Despite being irresistible, these two drinks have much more in common than meets the eye. 

Coffee and hot chocolate both contain caffeine and stimulating effects on the body – caffeine in coffee and alkaloid theobromine in hot chocolate. Coffee contains more caffeine, fewer calories, and has a rich, earthy flavor. Hot chocolate is sweet and creamy and has more vitamins and minerals. 

Coffee is renowned as an effective “pick-me-up.” And although hot chocolate is more commonly associated with a comforting winter beverage, it can also provide an effective energy boost. So let’s sip through the similarities and differences between these two beverages. 

Coffee vs. Hot Chocolate

Coffee and hot chocolate have two primary things in common – both are natural stimulants and contain caffeine. Yup, that’s right, hot chocolate also contains caffeine.

However, coffee’s primary stimulant is caffeine, and hot chocolate’s stimulant is theobromine.

The essential differences between coffee and hot chocolate include their classification, taste, and health benefits.

Coffee and Hot Chocolate are Natural Stimulants

Caffeine is the primary stimulant in coffee. However, despite containing caffeine, theobromine is the primary stimulant in hot chocolate. Cocoa naturally contains theobromine, an alkaloid belonging to the same class as caffeine.

Caffeine provides an intense, fast-acting, and short-lived rush of energy. It can also be addictive. In comparison, theobromine acts as a gentle, non-addictive stimulant with slow onset and long-lasting properties. It provides a cognitive boost and increased energy without experiencing a spike, jitters, or a crash.

Coffee vs. Hot Chocolate: Caffeine Content

The amount of caffeine in coffee and hot chocolate varies depending on how the coffee and cocoa beans are prepared. Hot chocolate’s caffeine percentage also differs when dark or milk chocolate is used.

For example, espresso and filter coffee contain more caffeine than instant coffee. And hot chocolate made with cocoa powder or dark chocolate contains more caffeine than its milky counterpart. Dark chocolate primarily has more caffeine than milk chocolate because it contains more cocoa solids than milk chocolate.

However, research shows that coffee contains more caffeine than cocoa and hot chocolate.

Coffee beans naturally contain more caffeine than cocoa beans. Arabica coffee beans have about 1.5% caffeine, and Robusta beans contain up to 2.7% caffeine. In comparison, cocoa beans contain 0.1 to 0.7% caffeine.

Here is a rough comparison of the caffeine content in coffee and hot chocolate:

BeverageAverage Caffeine Content
Espresso Filter Coffee63mg per shot 95mg per 8oz.
Instant Coffee65mg per 8oz.
Decaff Coffee2mg per 8oz.
Hot Chocolate (made with pure cocoa powder)12mg per 8oz.
Powder Hot Chocolate8mg per 8oz.
White Hot Chocolate (made with cacao butter)0mg

 Coffee vs. Hot Chocolate: Classification

A cup of coffee is prepared by brewing roasted coffee beans – the seeds derived from the berries of the Coffea species. 

Hot chocolate is a thick, hot beverage made by melting shaved chocolate or adding cocoa powder to hot water or milk.

Cocoa powder is the leftover residue of preparing cocoa butter derived from the Theobroma cacao plant’s fermented seeds. The fermentation process releases multiple chemical compounds and gives cocoa, chocolate, and of course, hot chocolate its distinctive aroma.


Coffee is divided into two primary species: Arabica and Robusta, from which other varieties like Castillo, Caturra, Bourbon, and Typica have developed. The beans also feature different roasts: light, medium, and dark.

Different coffee varieties and flavors include:

  • “Standard” coffee: Drip, pour-over, or French press black coffee with additional cream, milk, sugar, or sweetener.
  • Espresso drinks: A single or double espresso shot is used to make varieties like espresso, Americano, cappuccino, flat white, latte, cortado, and macchiato.
  • Coffee shop specialties: These varieties range from sublime to downright ridiculous. There is no end to creativity. Some popular coffee shop specialties include pumpkin spice latte, egg coffee, Irish coffee, caramel, vanilla, chocolate, and hazelnut flavored coffee.  

Cocoa beans have over ten bean varietals, with Criollo, Forastero, and Trinitario as the most popular three. Different countries have unique versions of hot chocolate,

Some of the most popular hot chocolate varieties and flavors include:

  • Mexican hot chocolate: It requires chocolate de mesa, a dark cacao table chocolate with sugar and cinnamon.
  • Spanish hot chocolate: Spanish hot chocolate is similar to traditional hot chocolate. However, the secret is adding cornstarch to create among the densest hot chocolate varieties.
  • Dutch hot chocolate: It is a classic recipe that requires dark chocolate chips, Dutch cocoa, and milk. Feel free to add freshly whipped cream, cinnamon, and a spike of brandy.
  • Columbian hot chocolate: It incorporates unique flavors like cinnamon, cloves, and honey, only to top it off with cheese cubes for a creamy texture and a hint of salt.
  • French hot chocolate: The recipe blends dark chocolate or bittersweet chocolate into water and milk, creating a less sweet chocolate drink.

Coffee vs. Hot Chocolate: Taste

Coffee is a deeply fragrant and flavorsome beverage. It is defined by a rich taste and a balance of sweet, bitter, acidic, and earthy notes. Some coffee beans even lend a subtle chocolate flavor.

The coffee beans’ roasting process ultimately determines the flavor profile. Roasting the beans provokes a Maillard reaction, allowing the natural oils to shine and producing many flavor compounds.

Darker roasts typically result in a rich flavor and thick-bodied texture. They are bitter and less acidic. Lighter roasts are less concentrated and do not undergo enough heat exposure to fully release their oils. As a result, they offer a more acidic, fruity flavor.

Hot chocolate made from pure cocoa powder has a jarringly bitter flavor. However, it is mainly consumed with added sugar to lend a sweet, comforting taste. In addition, the chocolate shavings or nibs used to make hot chocolate typically contain added refined sugar.

Coffee vs. Hot Chocolate: Health Benefits

Here’s a comparison of the nutritional value of coffee and hot chocolate.

Coffee (100g)Hot Chocolate (100g)
VitaminsB (1,2,3,5)A, E, D, K, and B(1,2,5,9,12)
MineralsPotassium, magnesiumIron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, and phosphorus.

Studies show the caffeine in coffee blocks your brain’s adenosine receptors, preventing you from feeling tired. As a result, coffee can provide a rapid energy boost, increase alertness, and reduce fatigue.

Coffee may help people lose weight – great excuse to boil the kettle again, right? Studies show that caffeine can boost the calories you burn by up to 13%.

However, despite the benefits, coffee can have drawbacks, including:

  • Raised blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Caffeine addiction
  • Trouble sleeping at night

Hot chocolate also boasts its own set of benefits. Several scientific findings support the historic designation of cocoa being “food of the Gods.”

The theobromine in hot chocolate acts as a mild stimulant with a slow onset and long-lasting boost of energy and cognitive function.

Cocoa in hot chocolate is jam-packed with antioxidants like polyphenols. Studies show that polyphenols can reduce inflammation, cholesterol, and blood pressure.

Cocoa powder also contains flavanols that can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, heart attacks, and strokes.

Some of the drawbacks of hot chocolate include the following:

  • High in calories
  • The high sugar content can contribute to tooth decay, weight gain, and diabetes.


That’s a wrap! Coffee and hot chocolate have different classifications and tastes. However, both act as natural stimulants.

Why not try a mug of hot chocolate with your breakfast for a slow-releasing energy boost.


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