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A Taste of Ecuador: Kokoa Collection’s Hot Chocolate Review

Welcome to a journey through the rich flavours of Ecuador, as we delve into the world of Kokoa Collection’s classic 70% hot chocolate. As a seasoned hot chocolate enthusiast, I’ve had the pleasure of exploring a myriad of flavours from around the globe, and today, I’m excited to share with you my thoughts on Kokoa Collection’s Ecuador hot chocolate.

My passion for hot chocolate goes beyond mere taste; it’s about understanding the story behind each cup, the origins of the beans, and the intricate process that turns these beans into the luxurious drink we all love.

This experience has not only honed my palate but also deepened my appreciation for the diverse world of hot chocolate.

My First Encounter With Kokoa Collection

Maya's cafe | Westgate | Oxford

Excited to be out and about again after the confines of the pandemic, I first came across Kokoa Collection’s hot chocolate at Maya’s cafe in Oxford’s Westgate centre a few of years ago (this might have been before Knoops popped up on Turl Street in central Oxford).

I’m always excited to see hot chocolate options when I walk into a cafe beyond the basics of hot chocolate and luxury hot chocolate. The latter usually just “benefitting” from whipped cream and marshmallows.

Seeing a menu board with cocoa percentages, references to single origin and hints towards tasting notes is a definite trigger for me. When the barista was willing to engage in a chat about the hot chocolate options, I thought I was surely onto a winner.

However, when I finally tasted the hot chocolate, I remember feeling a little underwhelmed.

Sure, it was superior to the bland, cup of warm milk excuse that passes for hot chocolate on most high streets, but it wasn’t the toe-tingling sensation I’d be hoping for.

The Story Behind Kokoa Collection’s Hot Chocolate

Overview of the Kokoa Collection Brand

Kokoa Collection sets itself as a beacon in the world of premium hot chocolate, renowned for its commitment to quality and authenticity. The brand has carved a niche for itself by sourcing cocoa beans from around the world, each variety offering a unique glimpse into the tapestry of global cocoa flavours.

Their philosophy is simple: to deliver an unparalleled hot chocolate experience that is as true to the bean’s origin as possible. This commitment to excellence has earned Kokoa Collection numerous accolades and a loyal following.

At the heart of Kokoa Collection’s ethos is a deep respect for the cocoa bean and its journey from the tree to the cup. They meticulously select beans based on their distinctive flavour profiles, ensuring that each variety they offer tells its own story. This approach not only highlights the diversity of cocoa but also celebrates the cultural and geographical nuances that influence its taste.

Gloucester Services: Reacquainting Myself With Kokoa

Kokoa Collection Ecuador Classic 70% hot chocolate

Although I wasn’t overwhelmed with my first taste, I’m more than willing to give things a second chance, so when I came across Kokoa Collection’s hot chocolate again at Gloucester Services farm shop late last year, I knew I had to give it another go.

I opted for the Ecuadorian classic 70%. The Kokoa Collection website currently has it for sale at £7.49 for a 210g bag, which whilst more expensive than the powders found in supermarkets, is a lot more affordable than some of the bean-to-bar hot chocolates I’ve been testing of late.

Packaging First Impressions

Kokoa Collection Ecuador Classic 70% hot chocolate

The hot chocolate comes in a sleek, environmentally friendly pouch that not only preserves the freshness of the chocolate but also aligns with the brand’s commitment to sustainability.

The branding is consistent across the whole range, so there’s great brand recognition – with only the colour scheme changing.

The aroma that greeted me upon opening the pouch was a rich, deep chocolate scent with hints of the exotic Ecuadorian terroir.

The Richness of Ecuadorian Cocoa

Characteristics of Ecuadorian Cocoa

Ecuadorian cocoa, particularly the renowned Arriba Nacional variety, is celebrated worldwide for its exceptional quality and distinctive flavour profile. This cocoa variety is characterised by its floral, and refined notes.

Kokoa Collection uses Ecuador’s Arriba Nacional beans, above the Guayas River, to produce this classic and delicate hot chocolate. The pods are harvested by smallholder farmers from March to June, who individually ferment their own cocoa beans in wooden boxes for five to seven days and dry them on cement patios or wooden tables.

One of the most striking characteristics of Ecuadorian cocoa is its moderate bitterness. This subtle bitterness is typical of high-quality dark chocolate and adds to the sophistication of the flavour profile.

Unlike some more bitter, full-bodied cocoa varieties, Arriba cocoa has a controlled bitterness that doesn’t mask the subtle, sweet flavors of the beans. This balanced taste is particularly appreciated by those looking for a chocolate with a less intense mouthfeel, without sacrificing taste quality.

Cacao Arriba: a treasure trove of Ecuadorian flavours, CHOCMOD

Preparing the Perfect Cup

Step-by-Step Guide to Preparing Kokoa Collection’s Ecuador Hot Chocolate

Crafting the perfect cup of Kokoa Collection’s Ecuador hot chocolate is an art that combines simplicity with a touch of personal flair.

The packaging suggests the following method:

You will need 2 to 3 tablets of chocolate plus a cup of hot milk or your favourite non-dairy alternative. Simply place the tablets in a cup and cover with a little of the hot milk. Leave to soften for 60 seconds then stir until melted. Top up with the rest of the hot milk, whisk and enjoy!

Personal Tips and Tricks for the Best Experience

However, here’s my step-by-step guide to ensure every sip is as delightful as intended:

  1. Heat the Milk: Gently heat your choice of milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Avoid boiling the milk; you’re aiming for a temperature where it’s hot to the touch but not scalding. For a single cup, about 230ml – 250ml of milk should suffice. If you’re using a dairy alternative, oat milk or almond milk are excellent choices for their creamy texture and subtle flavours.
  2. Stir in the Chocolate: Once the milk is heated, add 3 tablets of chocolate to the milk and gently stir. Continue stirring or whisking until the chocolate is fully dissolved and the mixture is smooth. This step is crucial for achieving that velvety texture that makes this hot chocolate so indulgent.
  3. Simmer to Perfection: Allow the mixture to simmer gently for a minute or two, stirring occasionally. This helps the flavours to meld together and intensifies the richness of the chocolate.
  4. Froth: To really bring out the best of the chocolate, I use the cheap, electric hand-held frother I bought off Amazon. Not only does it improve the texture of the drink, creating a lighter, frothier texture, making your hot chocolate feel creamier and more luxurious, it also ensures that there are no lumps and that the chocolate is evenly distributed throughout the drink. This results in a smoother, more consistent flavour.
  5. Serve with a Personal Touch: Pour the hot chocolate into your favourite cup. A few shavings of dark chocolate can also add a delightful texture and visual appeal.

Does it Velvetise?

If you were willing to chop it up into small flakes, then it probably would but, out of the bag, I didn’t even consider putting in my Hotel Chocolat Velvetiser.

It’s clearly not designed for the Velvetiser and there is something very satisfying about slowly dissolving the chocolate tablets in warm milk and then using the hand-held frother to really bring it all together.

Kokoa Collection Ecuador Classic 70% hot chocolate

Tasting Notes: Flavour and Aroma

The flavour notes of this particular bean, according to the packaging, is both floral and balanced.

Preparing the hot chocolate in the same way that I would any other non-Velvetiser hot chocolate, I feel as though I gave it the best opportunity to impress me after my initial disappointing experience back in Oxford.

As you take the first sip of Kokoa Collection’s Ecuador hot chocolate, you’re immediately aware that this is not a high street chocolate powder but equally, it’s not in the same league as many of the really good hot chocolates out there.

Whilst there is definitely a chocolatey intensity there, I didn’t pick up on the rich floral or fruity notes that are reminiscent of the lush landscapes of Ecuador.

If I’m being brutally honest, I was not only a little disappointed with the taste but I’m not sure I even enjoyed it that much. Even an hour or so later, after a couple of glasses of water, an aftertaste remained in my mouth which I didn’t like.

Comparison with Other Hot Chocolate Experiences

bean-to-bar hot chocolates

When compared to other supermarket hot chocolate experiences, Kokoa Collection’s Ecuador hot chocolate does offer something more.

Unlike many commercial hot chocolates that rely heavily on sweetness and artificial flavourings, this hot chocolate offers a more authentic profile. The intended focus here is on the natural flavours of the cocoa, which it attempts to draw out and celebrate, rather than mask.

However, when compared to other bean-to-bar hot chocolates, the Ecuadorian chocolate fails to deliver. It might be that the added emulsifier and soya lecithin play a part in this, I can’t be sure.

Whether it’s Firetree’s volcanic hot chocolate, Ruby Hue’s wonderful Rwenzori or Islands chocolate buttons, the Kokoa chocolate lacks both the subtle notes and punchy flavours of the others all of which offer a multi-layered experience that is both satisfying and intriguing.

Whilst the balance achieved in these other hot chocolates is noteworthy, the Kokoa Collection chocolate creates a hot chocolate drink that is rich but a little too cloying, a balance that is not the hallmark of a premium hot chocolate.

Final Thoughts and Recommendations

Overall Impression and Verdict on the Product

After really giving Kokoa Collection’s Ecuador hot chocolate every chance, my verdict is that if you really enjoy great bean-to-bar hot chocolate that is ethically sourced and sustainably produced, I would invest a little more money into better options like Firetree, Ruby Hue or Islands.

Hot chocolate is not just a drink; it’s a luxurious escapade into the world of fine cocoa. The quality of good cocoa is evident in every sip – rich, complex, and beautifully balanced. The care taken in sourcing and preparing the cocoa beans shines through, offering a depth of flavour that is both rare and delightful.

Who Would Enjoy This Hot Chocolate the Most

The reviews on Amazon for this chocolate are generally very positive so it clearly appeals to many who enjoy exploring different cocoa origins and are interested in the subtleties that different terroirs bring to chocolate.

For others, it might be a great choice to indulge in a luxurious treat that’s both comforting and sophisticated. Just not for me.

The brand’s commitment to sustainable practices means that enjoying this hot chocolate could be a treat for the palate and also a nod to responsible consumption.

Hot Chocolate World author
Andrew Lowry

Hi, I’m Andrew and I like hot chocolate. Given the nature of this blog, that’s probably not surprising though.

I don’t drink coffee or tea (except a bit of green tea occasionally) so my hot drink options are limited.

I’m a champion of good-quality hot chocolate and want to see and learn more about it, so join me and let’s learn together.

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