Adventures of a Coffee Trainer by Emma Haines
Spread Some Love With a Hot Chocolate…
It’s February, which means that love is in the air. Since 1861 when Cadbury’s launched their first heart-shaped box of chocolates especially for the occasion, chocolate has had a strong link to Valentines. Even long before that, the Aztecs knew that chocolate had magical, romantic qualities. So if there’s one hot drink worth thinking about this month (other than coffee, obviously) it’s got to be an indulgent, dreamy hot chocolate.
A couple of months ago I wrote about the importance of ensuring that every establishment’s tea offer should be given just as much consideration and effort as coffee. It’s no different for hot chocolate too: Why put a lot of resources into training, sourcing and up-selling one if the others let you down?
When the weather is bleak and people are trying to create a little romance, it’s time to up your game with a tempting hot chocolate treat. So, how do you add a little magic this February?
- Source it well: The instant ‘just add water’ hot chocolate is about as close to decent cocoa as a microwave-burger is to Michelin-star dining. It’s important to know what’s in it. Also cocoa farmers face many of the same struggles as coffee farmers; working hard to protect the crop from diseases and pests with rising production costs, as well as being at the mercy of a profitable global cocoa trade which does very little to reward the growers. So choosing your hot chocolate supplier wisely is important, not only for flavour but also for ethical and sustainability reasons.
- Get creative: Many caterers assume that the only way to jazz up a standard hot chocolate is with a squirt of cream and a handful of mini-marshmallows. Don’t get me wrong, that’s an absolute treat but why not put some thought into your specials and create enough intrigue so that customers can’t pass it up? For minimal effort there are huge ranges of flavoured syrups on the market to add interest to the humble hot choccie. Alternatively, why not offer something boozy, highly decorative or just plain bold.....Lavender white hot chocolate, anyone?
- Go Vegan: Veganism is, without doubt, on the rise so expect to see a continued demand to cater for a plant-based diet. Vegan chocolate is easily sourced and often richer and even more indulgent that its non-vegan counterparts so you shouldn’t worry about keeping a separate stock. However, offering non-dairy milk options are a must for everyone in hospitality and there are lots to choose from these days so it’s worth doing your research into which ones to stock. A great, unusual one for hot chocolate is coconut milk. It’s not generally favoured for coffee as it does have a slight coconutty taste. This makes it perfect to complement hot chocolate and add an extra dimension flavour.
- Make it a mocha: For the indecisive, a mocha should be the go-to drink. The sweet richness of chocolate, balanced by the depth and punchiness of coffee, it’s comforting and energising all at once. Literally the best of both worlds!
- Emma has worked in hospitality and catering training for the last 10 years. For the last five years, she has focused on coffee training, in particular specialty coffee training, and how to incorporate specialty elements into commercial environments. She works all over Europe and beyond, and is a resident trainer at London School of Coffee.