In this report
December 2010 Ratings
Bottom line

A cocoa to savor

Last reviewed: December 2010

The botanical name of the cacao tree is Theobroma, which means "food of the gods," but some of the hot cocoas we tested are more heavenly than others.

Preparation and serving sizes varied. The Ratings (available to subscribers) spell out the differences. We've rated products prepared with milk when it was recommended, and with water when given an option of water or milk. Using milk instead of water generally improved the lower-rated products only slightly. As prepared, all of the cocoas have 20 to 35 percent of the daily recommended value of calcium except Stephen's, which has 6 percent.

Chocolate is a source of flavanols, antioxidants that have been linked to lowering blood pressure. Some cocoa-product labels mention antioxidants, but processing can mean a loss of flavanols, and most commercial cocoa drinks contain relatively small amounts, according to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, an independent, evidence-based evaluator of natural products.

Chocolate vs. cocoa

Chocolate's main ingredient is roasted ground cocoa beans (called chocolate liquor). Cocoa powder is chocolate liquor with most of the cocoa butter removed. All the products have cocoa powder; the top three add chocolate.