Colombian Hot Chocolate

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My first year in Colombia was full of new food, new music, new language, and new friends. Trips to the market and grocery stores were adventures that required advance preparation, such as looking up ingredients in a Spanish dictionary or calling friends to inquire about local terminology. I had studied German in high school, which was no help in a Spanish-speaking country, so it took me a little while. At first I shied away from things I couldn’t identify, but my shopping list expanded as I grew more comfortable with the local foods and the language. I did learn rather quickly about Colombian hot chocolate and how it was pretty much part of daily life, and I loved to watch it being prepared.

The locals used an aluminum pitcher called a chocolatera to warm milk or water on the stove, then they added chocolate as well as sugar if needed. After the chocolate was melted they would use a wooden molinillo to froth the chocolate. They put the round business end of the wooden stick in the bottom of the pitcher and roll the handle quickly between their hands as if they were trying to start a fire. The chocolate would froth up the sides of the pitcher, but the tall round shape that tapered near the top kept the chocolate from splattering over. Once it was well-frothed, they poured the steaming chocolate into cups and sometimes gave you a piece of bread and a small chunk of cheese to go with it. Locals dropped the cheese into the chocolate, but I preferred to nibble mine on the side.

Colombia was where I learned how good hot chocolate could be, and I bought a large chocolatera and molinillo and still have them in my kitchen. Fortunately I’m able to indulge my Colombian chocolate cravings thanks to the international grocery stores in our area. We can find Sol and Luker chocolate from Colombia, both sweetened (con azucar) and unsweetened (sin azucar). Each package has enough chocolate for 16 cups of cocoa, we just break it into individual bars and add one for each cup.

Colombian Hot Chocolate - Andrea Meyers

The frothing step is rather important for the right texture, and if you can’t find a molinillo you can use a milk frother such as the kind used for making coffee drinks or even a whisk.

Colombian Hot Chocolate - Andrea Meyers

Colombian Hot Chocolate
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 1 serving
  • 8 ounces (240 ml) milk or water
  • 1 bar Colombian chocolate, sweetened or unsweetened
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar (if using unsweetened chocolate)

  • pinch of cinnamon
  • pinch of cloves
  • pinch of cayenne
  1. Warm the milk or water in the chocolatera or small saucepan over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add the bar of chocolate and sugar if needed and spices if desired. Cook stirring until the chocolate completely melts. Froth briskly until the chocolate foams, then pour into a mug and serve.
More Information

chocolate pitcher (chocolatera) or small saucepan
wooden molinillo, milk frother, or whisk

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  1. says

    I didn’t know that you spent time in Colombia — how interesting! This sounds delicious. I’ve been craving chisels and Spanish hot chocolate, but have only gotten as far as dreaming : )

  2. Miguel says

    A mug of this hot chocolate would taste great now and take off the chill having just come in from walking the frozen streets of Seoul, South Korea.

  3. Ivonne says

    I am Colombian and a friend of mine sent me this since I tell her all kinds of stories about our culture. Great explanation for those who have not been in Colombia. Just wondering what brought you there? I would liek to hear more about your experiences while in Colombia, but I I thought you’re blog was a little hard to browse…couldn’t find any…

    • says

      Hi Ivonne, thanks for visiting. I taught at a U.S. school in Bogotá for a couple years. You can find more of my stories about Colombian food on my blog, just click on the Colombian tag in the Blog Index on the right.

    • Esteban says

      Michael, you can get them at any Colombia store. It’s cheap. Also the “Molinillo” is better known as “Bolinillo” and in Medellín, Chocolate is made with Agua de Panela not with water alone.

      Tastes much better.


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