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9 best vegan hot chocolates: Warm up without the dairy this winter

They’re comforting, decadent and all-round delicious

Kayleigh Rattle
Monday 20 December 2021 12:59
<p>We tested everything from chocolate powders to flakes and  bombes  </p>

We tested everything from chocolate powders to flakes and bombes

Sometimes, a good ’ol cuppa or espresso just doesn’t cut it when you fancy a warming and feel-good treat. Whether you’re after a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, or a dessert in a mug, hot chocolate is at once the ultimate treat but also a necessity on cold, winter days.

Vegan hot chocolate has come a long way in recent years. While you’ll find many traditional options on the market, which use an array of cocoa strengths and ingredients, there are now all manner of brands on the market creating innovative, delicious and wholly vegan hot chocolates.

And vegan hot chocolate doesn’t just come in the form of dark chocolate – you’ll now find a range of vegan chocolate, from milk to dark, with manufacturers choosing to use milk alternatives in their chocolate production.

How we tested

We tested a range of vegan hot chocolates, from fine powders to chocolate flakes, discs and even chocolate bombes to search for our favourites. We took factors including flavour, quality of ingredients and price point into account.

Read more:

The best vegan hot chocolates for 2021 are:

  • Best value – Willie’s Cacao rich dark drinking chocolate: £4.49 for 250g,
  • Best flavoured hot chocolate – Hotel Chocolat mint drinking chocolate: £13 for 10 sachets,
  • Best for instant hot chocolate – Divine winter warming spiced hot chocolate: £4.99,
  • Best for an after dinner drink – Happi oat m!lk hot chocolate spoons: £10 for 4,
  • Best for artisan vegan chocolate – Copperhouse chocolate Madagascar single origin 61 per cent drinking chocolate: £3.50 for 60g,
  • Best ready-made hot chocolate – Rude Health hot chocolate drink: £2 for 1l,
  • Best for gifting – Cocoba hot chocolate bombes with marshmallows: £11.99 for 3,
  • Best for café-standard hot chocolate – Modern Standard hot chocolate 52 per cent Colombian cacao: £6 for 200g,
  • Best for eco credentials – Love Cocoa dark hot chocolate flakes 60 per cent: £8.50 for 200g,

Willie’s Cacao rich dark drinking chocolate

Best: Value

Rating: 10/10

The ingredients that go into this delightful vegan drinking chocolate from chocolatier Willie’s Cacao can be counted on two fingers alone: cocoa powder and raw cane sugar, with the powder itself being made directly from the beans, which are 52 per cent single estate Medellin cacao.

The hot chocolate is rich in cocoa butter, giving it a deliciously creamy mouthfeel while also still being vegan, and the powder mixes well into milk. It also happens to be 100 per cent natural, gluten-free and soya-free. Considering the cocoa butter is still pressed on 20th-century cocoa butter presses, it’s really affordable, and seriously tasty too.

Hotel Chocolat mint drinking chocolate

Best: Flavoured hot chocolate

Rating: 10/10

Hot chocolate aficionados will no doubt be familiar with Hotel Chocolat. On top of selling delicious hot chocolate at its restaurants and cafes, the brand also sells sachets and cartons of its hot chocolate – which comes in the form of finely grated chocolate – to make at home as well as a dedicated hot chocolate maker, The Velvetiser.

There’s a wide array of hot chocolate flavours that stand out, but the mint – made with 70 per cent dark chocolate alongside Tasmanian peppermint – is our personal favourite. The mint tastes fresh and zingy and balances deliciously with the dark chocolate. When made with plant milk, the hot chocolate is suitable for vegans and vegetarians too.

Divine winter warming spiced hot chocolate

Best: Instant hot chocolate

Rating: 9/10

Fairtrade and delicious, there’s a lot to love about Divine chocolate, and that applies to its hot chocolate, too. You’ll find salted caramel hot chocolate and winter warming spiced hot chocolate in its vegan range, but it’s the latter that really tickled our taste buds.

Simply add two to three heaped teaspoons to a cup of hot plant milk of your choice, and prepare for a fusion of warming spices such as ginger and cinnamon – plus a delicate touch of chilli – to dance on your tongue. It’s easy to make, and just as easy to return to cup after cup. Word of warning though: the winter warming spiced hot chocolate is limited edition, so grab it while you can.

Happi oat m!lk hot chocolate spoons

Best: For an after dinner drink

Rating: 8/10

Chocolate spoons are a fabulous way to enjoy hot chocolate – especially as you can nibble a bit of chocolate off the spoon while you wait for it to melt – and they also make a great gift.

Vegan and gluten-free, Happi’s oat m!lk hot chocolate spoons are great fun and as well as tasting delicious, they’re sustainably and ethically sourced and packaged.

Made with oat milk chocolate, they’re so smooth and creamy. We particularly rate the “plain m!lk” version, but we do recommend that your choice of dairy-free milk is nice and hot before dipping the spoons. Look out for Happi’s range of vegan milk and chocolate bars, too.

Copperhouse chocolate Madagascar single origin 61 per cent drinking chocolate

Best: For artisan vegan hot chocolate

Rating: 8/10

Copperhouse Chocolate is a dedicated vegan chocolatier based in Angel, London, that handmakes its products at the premises. On top of decadent and delicious artisan chocolates and brownies, you’ll find a range of vegan hot chocolates to tempt you, made with enticing flavours including mint, chilli chocolate, gingerbread, cinnamon and rose and spiced orange.

They also make a selection of single-origin hot chocolates in a range of percentages, including the Madagascar single origin 61 per cent drinking chocolate. To make a cup, it’s simply a case of adding three dessert spoons of the vegan chocolate shavings to your alternative milk of choice. This is smooth, full-bodied and you’ll notice delicate spiced and fruity notes on the tongue, too.

Rude Health hot chocolate drink

Best: For ready-made hot chocolate

Rating: 7.5/10

A leading name when it comes to organic and dairy-milk alternatives, Rude Health makes everything from almond to coconut and milk alternatives as well as muesli and porridge.

While its pre-packaged chocolate oat drink can be enjoyed as-is directly from the fridge, conveniently it can also be heated up on the hob to make a rich and oaty hot chocolate.

We love how easy it is to make, its rich oaty flavour and the straightforward ingredients list: it only contains a small handful of ingredients including organic oats, organic rice syrup and organic cocoa. It’s perhaps more of a hot-chocolate-milk-alternative than a hot chocolate, but still delicious nonetheless. This item is currently not in stock online, but if you try one of Waitrose’s stores you might just be in luck.

Cocoba hot chocolate bombes with marshmallows

Best: For gifting

Rating: 8/10

Made with 55 per cent Belgian dark chocolate, these vegan hot chocolate bombes – which come in a pack of three ‒ are a lot of fun. To make, you simply place the hot chocolate mug in your chosen mug, pour over 225ml of your chosen milk alternative, then stir it until everything is melted.

We enjoyed the experience of making it, and watching the chocolate melt in the cup, and especially liked finding the vegan marshmallows that were “hidden” inside the chocolate spheres. Top tip though – leave enough room in the cup so that when you add the chocolate bombe, you don’t cause too much of a splash! These make a great after-dinner treat, but would also be a fantastic gift.

Modern Standard hot chocolate 52 per cent Colombian cacao

Best: For cafe-standard hot chocolate

Rating: 9/10

Fife-based speciality roasters Modern Standard certainly knows how to make more than just standard hot chocolate. Its powdered hot chocolate, which comes in a resealable 200g sachet, not only goes a long way, but tastes delicious. Made with 55 per cent Columbian cacao (Fino de Aroma beans, which are sourced directly from a family-run business), it gives off a good level of creaminess, despite being vegan, as well as subtle notes of vanilla and hazelnut.

We love how good it tastes, but also how for every packet of hot chocolate purchased, Modern Standard donates 10p towards special projects in Columbia.

Love Cocoa dark hot chocolate flakes 60 per cent

Best: For eco credentials

Rating: 9/10

Housed in 100 per cent recyclable cardboard cartons (with compostable inners) this vegan hot chocolate, from the great-great-great-grandson of James Cadbury, is well worth a try.

The hot chocolate itself consists of chunky chocolate flakes, made from single-origin cacao sourced from Columbia, Peru and Ecuador. When heated, the flakes taste rich and chocolatey and a subtle fruitiness can be detected on the palate. You’ll also find a vegan mint hot chocolate in the range, and for every Love Cocoa purchase, a tree is planted in east Kenya.

The verdict: Vegan hot chocolates

Overall, Willie’s Cacao rich dark drinking chocolate cannot be faulted for its taste, quality and price point. If you’re after a flavoured vegan hot chocolate, we’d recommend Hotel Chocolat mint drinking chocolate for its well-balanced and utterly moreish flavour.

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