Posted in Kafevend Blog
Just add milk
As any regular readers are probably well aware, we love a good theme here on the Kafevend blog. Today then we are rounding off a week on convenience for your cuppas
with a look at the ways people have made drinking cocoa a doddle.
Hot off the press
The mug of cocoa has its origin in the Industrial Revolution. Chocolate had become wildly popular throughout western Europe since its arrival in Spain in the early 16th century. During that time, it had just been enjoyed as a drink in the fashion of the Mesoamericans
- albeit with the addition of sugar or honey! At the beginning of the 18th century however, bright minds began to consider how machinery could improve things in the world of the cacao bean.
The first was a Frenchman called Doret, who created a machine which ground up the beans to make a paste. Another Frenchman, Dubuisson, invented a steam powered mill. Both of these machines were tremendous labour saving devices, but it was the creation of a Dutchman, Coenraad van Houten, that was to allow chocolate to take a big leap forward.
In 1829, van Houten came up with two ways to improve the chocolate that was on offer. First of all, he found that adding alkaline salts to the mix dulled the bitterness, amongst other things. More importantly still, he created the van Houten press. This was the first machine to separate cocoa butter and cocoa solids, which is necessary to make the various types of solid chocolate we enjoy today. It was quickly discovered that mixing just the cocoa solids (or powder) into water or milk was much easier- and so we have the mug of hot cocoa!
Like chocolate bars, there are various types of drinking cocoa. The simplest are made up of pure cocoa solids, which might be alkalised. These will make for a rather strong cup of cocoa- if you aren't used to dark chocolate, you may find yourself reaching for the sugar! One of the benefits of these types is that like bars, the cocoa can come from a single origin, providing different taste profiles. Other cocoa powders are sold with sugar already mixed in, saving you the bother if you aren't one for bitterness. Both of these types are mixed into hot milk, but there are powders that are quicker still. These combine cocoa powder, sugar, and milk powder, so all you need is a kettle; this is about as quick as it gets!
There's more in the world of decadent drinks than hot cocoa however. Why use cocoa powder when you could use chocolate itself? Taking inspiration again from Central America again, there are various forms of solid chocolate made specifically for drinking. Some come as discs which are either added whole or broken up, whilst others can come as a mixture of chocolate flakes. Again, like regular chocolate, you can have various types: dark, milk, plain, white... Whatever your preference, there's sure to be one out there to your liking!
References:History of chocolate in Europe