I have my order memorized:  Low Fat No Whip Half-Caf Mocha – Venti!  At Timmy’s, it’s a half coffee, half hot chocolate.  Every coffee outlet has something to help me out with my addiction, for about $3.50 (and up) a pop.  I think of it as “Chocolate Coffee”, and it’s what I always order.

I love going out for coffee, but I can’t afford to do it every day. When Vicki and I go out for a treat, the “Waves” coffee chain does it best for me, and it’s something I can “sort-of” replicate at home.  Of course, the ambience in front of the computer in my office cannot match the camaraderie of going out for coffee, but my home-made chocolate coffee is just fine, and it’s REALLY cheap!  Add up your weekly purchased coffees and see how much you could be saving.

Of course, Carter will lower his eyebrows and chastise me for drinking something that is “not real coffee”.  He’s the one making camping espresso on the back deck, even when it’s 20 below.  If you own a coffee maker, an espresso pot, or a hard-lined uber system, this article may not be for you — go ahead and draw your shots.

Meanwhile, I’ll be enjoying my daily dose of chocolate and coffee, with a helpful serving of milk for my bones.

Cheap Chocolate Coffee At Home

The “Starving Artist” version is pretty straightforward:

Heat about a cup and a half of milk, or your big mug, as hot as you can get it without boiling the milk over the rim (which is 3 minutes in my microwave).  I use skim milk – you can choose whatever you like.  Add instant coffee granules and chocolate drink powder or syrup to taste  –  I add a heaping tablespoon of coffee granules, and a heaping teaspoon of Nesquick powder (the reduced sugar one), or a shot of chocolate syrup.  You can adjust both the coffee and the chocolate to taste — Stir, and enjoy.  Fast and Dirty.  It’s way cheaper than the flavored coffee mixes you can buy at the grocery store, has no strange coconut-oil taste, and you can get the ratio just the way you like it.  I don’t use hot  chocolate mix  –  much too sweet for me,

The version I have emulated from “Waves” is a bit more uptown.

Measure 10 or 12 ounces of milk into a large (4 cup) measuring cup — or choose the amount that will fill your big mug with a little headroom for the coffee and the chocolate. You need the space to get the froth — I don’t fancy your chances of a happy outcome if you try to use your immersion blender in your coffee mug.

Dissolve a double-strength portion of high quality instant coffee (the Starbucks product is really excellent), or a single-strength portion of espresso powder in a little hot water. This prevents clumping, a necessity if you are using espresso powder.

If you own that espresso-maker, draw a double shot, add it to the milk, and proceed.

Microwave for 3 minutes, or until it just about boils.

Drop in about two tablespoons of chocolate chips.  “Waves” offers the choice of dark, milk, or white chocolate, and you can suit yourself.  You can go as high as three tablespoons, but more than that becomes something like liquid ganache, a confection I cannot endorse as a beverage in good conscience.  I digress.

Wait just a bit for the chocolate to melt.  I keep my chips in the freezer, so I give them a good 15 seconds to adjust.

Now for the froth.  If you have a frother, use that (my frother has gone a bit wonky).  If you have a whisk, that will work – put it in the cup and roll the handle between your two hands for good spinning action.  If you have an immersion blender, that’s my pick — if it’s good enough for Waves, it’s good enough for me. The point is to whisk the hot mixture until the chocolate is incorporated fully, and you get a bit of aeration (that would be foam) on the top.  It’s an aesthetic thing.


A drop of vanilla would be lovely, or a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg if you like that sort of thing.  A shot of Bailey’s if the sun is over the yard-arm; Kahlua, of course, is always an option.  Someone I know drops a Lindt truffle into the mug for a lovely gooey finish.  If you use almond milk, the whole thing takes on a bit of a peanut-butter-cup vibe. I had a “Macaroon” coffee the other day – toasted coconut on top – so I bet you could make it with beverage coconut milk (not canned — too rich) if you were in the mood.

PS – If you leave out the  coffee, the chocolate chip method makes absolutely the best hot chocolate – real chocolate, no mix!  It’s hot chocolate for grown-ups, I dare say — save it from the kids, who are only using it as a vehicle for marshmallows anyway.