The last few mornings here have been decidedly chilly. Fog hovers over damp grass. Maple tree leaves turn scarlet and gold. Wake-up routines begin in darkness. This means hot chocolate mornings.

May I present the steps to the perfection of hot chocolate on a cold, damp morning:

One envelope of hot chocolate powder (often this is a store-brand item)
3/4 cup milk

In 11 oz. mug, pour contents of envelope. Add milk (we use whole organic milk, again store brand). Microwave on high for 55 seconds. Anything less than 55 seconds and the milk isn’t hot enough, anything more and hot chocolate flows over the sides, and the morning routine shifts into clean-up mode. Sticky hot chocolate bits cover the glass plate in the microwave as well as the sides of the mug, which of course means less yummy hot chocolate inside the mug. This extra step makes me want to go back to bed and try again later, when the sun is up and the fog has lifted.


Stir hot chocolate with what we call the soup spoon. This is the larger spoon in our everyday silverware drawer. It’s perfect for picking up a few of the unmelted chocolate-y bits on top of hot chocolate. Stir just enough to get the powder swirling around, but not enough to make a completely smooth mixture (smoothing the mixture is to be customized by the customer, who is getting dressed and will emerge soon). Add an ounce or two of cold water and serve immediately.

Others have tried and failed. Any deviation from these steps and that morning’s hot chocolate barista looks like a maniac. This certain barista has been serving hot chocolate with love for a decade, so I have this routine perfected. Who knew something so easy had the capacity to get complicated.

It’s funny how the little things make a big difference between right and wrong. The right mug. The right milk. The right number of seconds for heating. The correct stir. The addition of water at the end. The ratio of milky foam-powder-liquid presented. The larger spoon for dipping. It all adds up to just right, people.

Have you turned a simple routine into something complicated? Are you the only one who can make it just right? Let’s hear it!