Most people know that you can brew a lightning-fast cup of coffee using K-cups. Coffee is, after all, what K-cups were designed to brew. But what many people don’t know is that you can also brew a cup of hot chocolate using K-cups. Just as quickly, and just as easily as brewing a cup of coffee.
What Are Hot Chocolate K-Cups
First of all, what is a K-cup? K-cups, just like Nespresso pods, are part of a complete brewing system that utilizes pressure in order to brew coffee. It is essentially a pod filled with the ingredients for a particular drink. For coffee, those ingredients would be ground coffee and sometimes powdered milk for things like lattes and cappuccinos. For tea, the K-cup is full of tea leaves, and for hot chocolate— cocoa powder, milk, and usually sugar. The pod is inserted into the Keurig coffee maker before needles puncture the pod itself, allowing hot water to enter the pod, extract the coffee and exit the pod, finally flowing into the cup below.
While this system was originally designed way back in 1998 by Keurig to brew coffee for office folk, it has since been developed into a full line of beverages including various teas, chai lattes, and… you guessed it— hot chocolate! Imagine the glory of hot chocolate in K-cup form! The easiest hot chocolate you’ll ever make!
Benefits of Using Hot Chocolate K-Cups
If Nespresso and Keurig are so similar, you might be wondering why choose K-cups over, say, a Nespresso coffee maker? Well, if we were to run a Nespresso and Keurig comparison, we would find that not only are Keurig’s K-cups more affordable, but K-cups also offer a much wider selection of hot drinks besides coffee.
But that’s not where the hot chocolate K-cup benefits end, oh no!
Using a Keurig coffee maker to make your hot chocolate means that you won’t need any other equipment— no steam wand for heating milk, no saucepan to melt chocolate— everything you need is inside that neat little K-cup!
Each Keurig coffee maker is a little different, so be sure to do your research before choosing a machine. The Keurig k55 has a lot of features, while the Keurig k475 and k575 models are fairly similar, only really differing in their water tank and touchscreen sizes.
Requires Fewer Ingredients Than a Traditional Hot Chocolate
To make a traditional hot chocolate, you need to have a bit of time and at least a few ingredients. Not only does one need chocolate powder or cocoa, sugar and milk, but also a stovetop, a saucepan, a spoon or whisk (if you like it all latte-esque), and finally, a mug. Using K-cups, all you need is the Keurig coffee maker, the K-cup itself and your favorite mug to drink from.
Quick and Easy
The average K-cup takes around 1 minute to brew. This fact alone would have to make K-cup hot chocolates the fastest hot chocolate you’re likely to find. And with no additional equipment required— no pots or spoons, whisks, or milk pitchers, the only thing you’ll need to wash afterward is your mug! It couldn’t possibly be any easier.
How Do Hot Chocolate K-Cups Work
Each hot chocolate K-cup is filled with a variety of different chocolatey ingredients, depending on the brand and variety. Among the ingredients is usually cocoa powder, powdered milk, and sugar, though it’s not uncommon to find additional ingredients in flavored hot chocolates such as salted caramel or chocolate mint.
How does a hot chocolate K-cup work? On the outside of the machine, the hot chocolate K-cup is inserted into the brew head of any Keurig or K-cup compatible coffee maker. The user chooses her size, and the hot chocolate goodness will begin brewing and flowing into the mug below.
On the inside of the machine, however, after the K-cup has been inserted, the machine punctures the K-cup with small needles. The small holes made by the needles allow pressurized water to flow into the K-cup. As the pressure within the K-cup builds, the water dissolves the powdered ingredients until the other side of the K-cup ruptures, allowing the hot chocolate to be released into the mug, eagerly waiting below.
The whole process, from inserting the pod to drinking your hot chocolate, takes around 1 minute.
Pros and Cons of Hot Chocolate K-Cups
- Quick and easy. No need to heat any milk or melt any chocolate. Just insert the K-cup and brew!
- Inexpensive. Some hot chocolate K-cups go for as low a $1 per K-cup.
- Consistent. So long as you look after your machine, you’ll get the same cup, day in and day out.
- Selection. There is a huge range of machines and an even larger range of K-cups to choose from.
- Pod-based coffee systems have a negative environmental impact if the chosen K-cups are not truly biodegradable. The number of pods used amounts to a huge amount of waste every year.
- Many users have complained that hot chocolate K-cups clog their machines faster than coffee. It is recommended to purge your Keurig (run a mug of freshwater through it) after brewing hot chocolate to clear out any sugar or milk in the brew head.
How to Choose the Best Keurig Hot Chocolate K-Cups
The sheer number of options when it comes to K-cups can be pretty dizzying at times. Take a look at Amazon and you’ll find hundreds of manufacturers making thousands of varieties of K-cups— where to start?
We know we want hot chocolate, so that’s a good start. Let’s go deeper— take out our magnifying glass, microscope, and binoculars to hunt out the perfect hot chocolate K-cup!
How Rich Is the Cocoa
One could think of cocoa in the same way we think of coffee. Like coffee, cocoa is the seed of a tree. And also, like coffee, all cocoa is certainly not created equal.
While it can be hard to tell how rich any particular K-cup will be, there are a few things you can look for. Look for cocoa high on the ingredients list— the sooner it comes up, the richer the K-cup should be. Also, choose K-cups that mention where the cocoa within came from. Chances are, if the company cares enough about where it came from, they’ll hopefully have put a decent amount of it in the K-cup! While this doesn’t always work, it can certainly help.
Number of Calories
A creamy, sweet cup of hot chocolate is, of course, a treat. But it’s still nice to know exactly how many calories we are taking in. If you are on a diet but still want to enjoy the occasional hot chocolate, there are certainly low calories options out there— just be sure to take the sugar content into account, too.
It is generally agreed upon these days that sugar isn’t the best food to be easting a lot of. Causing anything from heart disease to diabetes, foods with high sugar content are no joke. Luckily, there are a number of low sugar and even almost entirely sugar-free hot chocolate options available. Just like how low acid coffee is better for your teeth, low sugar hot chocolate is better for not only your teeth but your overall health, too.
There is literally zero points in drinking hot chocolate if it isn’t delicious. Unlike coffee, hot chocolate doesn’t contain the caffeine we want to wake us up. Hot chocolate is purely for enjoyment, so let’s make it count!
Choosing a delicious hot chocolate K-cup is probably the most difficult part of finding the right K-cup. Every company claims theirs is the best, the most delicious, and the most irresistible. Without trial and error, how else can we improve our chances of buying a good one, first try? This is where reviews come in incredibly handy.
If too many people have negative things to say about the flavor of a K-cup, chances are it isn’t the most delicious one out there. Of course, no hot chocolate is ‘one size fits all,’ and making something that everyone will love is near impossible, but you can get a pretty good idea if the product is tasty by reading the majority of reviews.
One of the great things about the K-cup brewing system is its reasonably low price point. As mentioned earlier, hot chocolate K-cups can be had for less than $1 each.
How to Use Hot Chocolate K-Cups
If you are familiar with using K-cups for brewing coffee, then you’ll already know exactly how to use a hot chocolate K-cup. But for those that are just venturing into the world of K-cups, here is a complete how-to guide on using K-cups. K-cups are great because making drinks with them is far easier than making a DIY latte at home!
- Keurig coffee maker
- Hot chocolate K-cup
- Water (to fill your Keurig)
Step 1 — Fill the Keurig
Detach your water reservoir and fill it to the maximum line with fresh, clean water. Re-seat the water reservoir and allow the machine to heat up.
Step 2 — Insert a hot chocolate K-Cup
Next, insert your hot chocolate K-cup into the brew head of the machine. Then close the lid.
Step 3 — Brew the hot chocolate
Place a mug on the drip tray of the machine under the coffee outlet. Select your size and begin brewing. Watch that chocolatey goodness flow! Your hot chocolate is now ready to drink!
Step 4 — Purge the machine
Because hot chocolate generally includes milk powder, sugar, and cocoa— all things that can easily clog the pipes of a Keurig— we need to run a quick purge cycle after each hot chocolate that we brew. This is just a fancy way of saying that we need to run a cup of hot water through the machine to rinse it out. To do this, remove the used K-cup from the brew head, close the lid and place a mug under the coffee outlet. Run a brew cycle, just as you did when you made your hot chocolate. Discard the rinse cycle water.
Does More Spending Mean More Quality
When it comes to the best K-cups and premium Keurig coffee makers, spending more generally will buy you a higher quality product. Spending more on hot chocolate K-cups will often mean better ingredients and a richer flavor. While this certainly isn’t always the case, spending more on K-cups rarely results in a poorer quality drink.
Do’s and Don’ts With Hot Chocolate K-cups
- Do keep your Keurig clean! Use Keurig descaling solution for cleaning at least every 2 -3 months.
- Do look for the highest quality hot chocolate you can find. Look for information on the cocoa the company uses. If they mention where it is from, or even the percentage of cocoa in the drink, this is a good sign.
- Do try adding a little extra something. Choose coffee syrup from your favorite flavor for a special kick!
- Don’t forget to purge your machine after each hot chocolate you brew. The ingredients in a hot chocolate can easily clog the insides of a Keurig.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavors. Maybe even try combining a coffee and a hot chocolate K-cup and make yourself a mocha!
FAQ About Hot Chocolate K-Cups
How do you make hot chocolate K-cups taste better?
You know that age-old saying ‘You eat with your eyes first’? The same thing applies to drinks like tea, coffee, and hot chocolate. Something as simple as using a nice mug can make a world of difference in the way your brain perceives the taste of a drink. The mind is a powerful thing — hot chocolate tastes better from a quality coffee mug.
You can also try adding flavorings like vanilla or caramel syrups or some extra chocolate powder. Sometimes you might spice up your coffee with a vegan creamer, so try the same with a hot chocolate!
Does Dunkin Donuts have hot chocolate K-cups?
They do! Dunkin Donuts hot chocolate pods are one of the higher-rated hot chocolates out there. Many people have said the Dunkin Donuts hot chocolate tastes just like a hot chocolate freshly made with warm milk!
How to make hot chocolate K-cups without a Keurig?
Disaster strikes! You’re craving a hot chocolate, but your Keurig breaks down! No worries, simply add the contents of the K-cup to a mug, add hot water, and stir. It probably won’t be quite the same as it would be when brewed properly, but it should still be tasty enough to get you through and provide you with your chocolate fix! Note, the same thing can’t be done with the coffee K-cups because the coffee pods contain a filter.
Do they make sugar-free hot chocolate K-cups?
Absolutely. While sugar-free hot chocolate K-cups are a little harder to find than their full-sugar counterparts, they certainly do exist in all of their sugar-free glory.
With the use of Keurig’s K-cups, making a cup of hot chocolate is easier than ever. With a huge range of machines and a massive selection of K-cups, there is bound to be something to suit everyone’s tastes and budget. Have fun brewing and enjoy your tasty hot chocolate!
Photos from: JulijaDM / depositphotos.com.