Review: Ghirardelli White Mocha Premium Beverage Mix


Fond as I am of white chocolate, mochas and Ghirardelli's Double Chocolate Premium Beverage Mix, their White Mocha Premium Beverage Mix sounded promising.

Drinking this stuff was a profoundly bad idea. Not bad in the way that drinking methanol is, but bad enough. The flavors, cloying and ersatz, offer only a vague impression of the concept. One wonders at the chemistry of what just happened in one's mouth. Somewhere in its undisclosed inventory of natural and artificial flavors is "white mocha"; one may as well throw Sunday evening's last forlorn Walmart Celebrations Center cake into a blender with some coffee.

Ghirardelli Chocolate Premium Hot Beverage Mix, White Mocha [Amazon]


  1. I’d say anyone trying something called a “beverage mix” is asking for disappointment — it sounds as awkward as The Simpsons’ “Krusty’s partially gelatinated non-dairy gum-based beverage”, but if I read right, it sounds like Rob actually likes the normal chocolate version.

    1. Yes, this.
      The use of “beverage” in this instance is more of a legal descriptive than anything else. Like “cheese food product”.

  2. The double chocolate mix is great in iced coffee.
    But, white chocolate? Really? Did you think that was translate well into a beverage mix? In it’s pure form, it’s not even chocolate but a by product of making chocolate.

    1. Unless your idea of a really satisfying bit of chocolate is a big spoon of cocoa powder then white chocolate is just as much chocolate as anything else by that name. In fact from a confectionery perspective making chocolate is entirely about creating the proper crystal structure within a mixture of cocoa butter and sugar. Flavorings, cocoa solids or otherwise are pretty much incidental. White chocolate is just as much of a by product as chocolate cake and hot chocolate are. 

          1.  Nobody enjoys Passover unless they’re the one not keeping kosher and instead is choosing to eat Cinnabon in the face of those who are keeping kosher.

            Hillel sandwiches are the only good thing about Passover.

      1. In fact from a confectionery perspective making chocolate is entirely about creating the proper crystal structure within a mixture of cocoa butter and sugar. Flavorings, cocoa solids or otherwise are pretty much incidental.

        WTF? Cocoa is incidental to chocolate? That IS chocolate. Butterfat is incidental–buy yummy. Chocolate as a drink was mezzo American, and bitter with little fat..or used as a spice in foods. The fat element of ‘white chocolate’ is more like a butter creme. You’re spiting hairs here….it’s the butterfat bit; not Chocolate.

        1. I didn’t say cocoa was incidental to chocolate. I said cocoa SOLIDS were incidental to chocolate. In terms of modern chocolate its basically a flavoring added back in after the cocoa butter has been properly processed. 

          In terms of “chocolate” as opposed to cocoa butter or cocoa powder (or items flavored with either), your talking about a crystalline structure provided by the cocoa butter. IIRC its the only fat that’s a crystalline solid. Its manipulating that structure (with sweets in combo with sugar crystals) that gives us different forms of chocolate, from liquid to waxy to hard etc. Mostly the heat you work the chocolate at and how you cool it determines the texture. But More cocoa solids will tend to make it more brittle, dairy will make it softer, sugar has its own heat manipulated structure fun going on (hence fudge). But the basic characteristics of a piece of chocolate as we know it has more to do with cocoa butter than it does with any of the other ingredients.  Aztec chocolate (and modern Mexican chocolates made nearly identically) was bitter and spiced rather than sweetened. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t contain cocoa butter, it was processed from cocoa beans in a pretty similar way to what we do today. And cocoa beans contain cocoa butter and cocoa solids in roughly even amounts.

          Basically you grind down your beans in order to break down the solids as small as possible emulsifying them into the cocoa butter. This produces a thick paste, which can been melted to produce a liquid called chocolate liquor. Heat/manipulate the liquor correctly and it will set up into stiff bars. Way back when this is about when people would stop. Grind/add spices in along the way and leave it as a paste or work it into bars. Now a days this is how we produce basic bakers chocolate. In most cases the practice today is to separate as much of the solids as possible  from the fat. And then add a measured amount of solids back in along with other ingredients and flavorings, manipulating it to set the texture. So yeah cocoa is chocolate, but we break cocoa down into cocoa butter and cocoa powder (neither of which is chocolate). And the processed product known as “chocolate” is only made possible by cocoa butter. 

          White chocolate gets a bad name because most of the “white chocolate” people run into is actually confectioners coating. Basically just sweetened hydrogenated vegetable fat with flavorings and stabilizers, no cocoa of any sort in it. Its just as terrible as candies marked “chocolate flavored”. Which are the same thing with low grade cocoa powder added in as the flavoring agent. But go ahead an taste a small amount of cocoa powder (just the solids, and not dutch process). It’ll mostly taste bitter and dusty, but its got a very basic one dimensional chocolate flavor. A lot of the lighter more floral, fruity, more volatile flavors live only in the cocoa butter. Both are necessary if you want anything to taste properly like chocolate, or if you want any complexity to the flavor. With very dark chocolates you’re looking to taste mostly the bold dark and earthy end, so you use mostly cocoa solids. With white you mostly want to taste the subtle fruity and floral stuff, so you add little to no solids. Both are very much still chocolate.

          1.  When I was a kid, we loved it when we would go to the Ghirardelli “Chocolate Manufactory” in San Francisco, where you could see basically the whole process described above, with real chocolate being made in front of you. Then you could buy big chunks of white chocolate (or the other kind) out of barrels. After stuffing ourselves with sundaes or banana splits..Yummmm…. I think you can still do that, but I believe they have removed the demonstration chocolate production line to make more room for tourists.

          2. There are, I’m sure, boutique small independent places that still do the whole raw bean to chocolate thing in house all over the place.  There’s certainly one in Toronto called Soma (Horrible flash site: ) that is either one of the best places ever or the worst, depending on your perspective. Of course, because they’re kind of a small batch kind of place, you’re kind of pot luck on what part of the process they’re on, rather than having a production line that’s always doing everything. If you go, try the Mayan hot chocolate.

            Anyway, I do wonder with products like, what kind of taste buds do the people who give it 5 stars have? It’s almost like they’re reviewing a different product.

          3. I loved that sort of stuff too. I remember making chocolate on an old stone griding aparatus at one of those historical recreation places. Don’t remember if it was Colonial Williamsburg, Old Bethpage, Mount Vernon, or some random theme park or strange regional museum. It was fun, but the chocolate sucked. Stale/rancid beans and very grainy.

      2. Except that a mocha has, by definition, cocoa powder (i.e. cocoa solids), not cocoa butter (which is what “white chocolate” is, theoretically).  So “white mocha” is an oxymoron at best.

    2. white chocolate = cocoa butter, which is the more valuable part of chocolate — that’s why mass-market chocolatiers use hydrogenated vegetable oil as a replacement whenever they can get away with it.

      of course, most “white chocolate” is actually mostly hydrogenated vegetable oil as well, but hey.

      1.  America’s Test Kitchen did a taste test of white chocolates and found that the best tasting is actually a mixture of both oil and cocoa butter.

        1. Cooks Illustrated (the magazine America’s Test Kitchen is drawn from) frequently uses pretty flawed methods. Or only tests based around very limited circumstance. Last few choclate tests I saw them do were along the lines of “best nationally available in a regular supermarket white chocolate chip for use in cookies” or “best premium brand nationally available in specialty supermarket semi-sweet chocolate bar for making brownies.” Its more like consumer reports than a regular review. Help you find the best widely available bang for your buck for a given task. I wouldn’t take any of their tests as definitive or universal.

        2. iirc, that was for baking, as opposed to eating.

          they also found, e.g., that vanillin is as good as (or better than) real vanilla extract in baked goods (but terrible in anything else).

          and there is still the fact that “best tasting” is subjective.

          added: maybe the oil can stabilize/emulsify the bar for long periods of storage. i doubt that fresh white chocolate would benefit from adulteration.

          1. If I remember the vanilla thing it was that if you cook it fake and real are indistinguishable. So basicall use fake in the cake but real in the frosting. A great example of how they usually structure these taste tests. As for oil and stabilizing. Chocolate doesn’t need much in terms of preservation. The stuff can safely last for years under storage without any preservatives or alteration. The one problem is tempterature. Cocoa butter melts at pretty low temperature, and typical candy making looks to set the melting temp at just above/below body temperature. With high heat and moisture over long term the chocolate can melt or the emulsion break. I think it was coconut oil that Hershey used to use in militarty chocolate rations to prevent this. Raised the melting point enough to keep it shelf stable in the tropics. Then there are stabilizers like carigeenan and modified food starch. But all of these fuck up the texture (military chocolate in particular was supposedly aweful). Vegitable oils are entirely added to bring down price.

      2.  I’m surprised that no one has mentioned PGPR yet. Polyglycerol polyricinoleate is a castor bean extract that, since 2006, has been allowed to replace some percentage of cocoa butter in American “chocolate”.

  3. This made me laugh. :) It reminded me of a blog I loved but cannot remember the name of. It was written by two guys who wrote hilarious reviews of new soft drinks. I think Merlin Mann was one of them, maybe? Maybe not. I wish I could remember it – they stopped updating it years ago and it may be lost forever. I couldn’t find it. Anyone? Anyone?

    In any case, thanks for the laugh and for the kick of nostalgia. 

      1.  Ghirardelli Advanced Premium Beverage Substitute is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike white chocolate.

    1. I’m really not fond of “white chocolate.” I wonder if this means, by some weird transitive gustatory property, that I’d like this stuff…

    2. I have a special place in my heart for white chocolate as for the entirety of my youth I wasn’t allowed to have regular chocolate because of an allergy.  In the end I either grew out of it, or it was simply the fact that when I’d evinced symptoms it was essentially the result of a serious chocolate overdose (I was four and had eaten enough to kill a mid-sized dog).

      Anyway, I guess calling it “White Mocha” instead of “White Chocolate” has something to do with it, otherwise, good old American Socialism would have saved you from inferior product:

      Regulations govern what may be marketed as “white chocolate”: In the United States, since 2004, white chocolate must be (by weight) at least 20% cocoa butter, 14% total milk solids, and 3.5% milk fat, and no more than 55% sugar or other sweeteners.[3] Before this date, U.S. firms required temporary marketing permits to sell white chocolate. The European Union has adopted the same standards, except that there is no limit on sugar or sweeteners.[4]


      1.  Considering I am allergic to cocoa BUT can consume most brands of white chocolate, I’m gonna go right ahead and make the uneducated (yet non-reactive) conclusion that “white chocolate” is not really chocolate.

  4. Cartoonist Sandra Boynton did a book about chocolate many years back in which she addressed the concept of white chocolate; she said that the sort of person who doesn’t accept white chocolate as real chocolate is the same sort of person who doesn’t accept a glass of sugar water as real orange juice.

  5. I actually like this particular beverage mix, with or without some Irish cream. Anyone have suggestions for other white mocha-flavored beverage mixes?

  6. I can empathize, as today we went to Nijiya Japanese Market, and while filling our basket with the favorite confections of my youth spent int Tokyo (plus sake and sochu, now that I’m a grownup!), I came across green tea hard candy, made with actual macha green tea powder, something I’d never tried before.

    It was unspeakably horrible. I had to spit it out after 60 seconds and rummage through our grocery bag for a suitable “unicorn chaser” in this case, a trusted and beloved coffee bean candy (CoffeeBeat).

    I share your sense of betrayal and chemical poisoning.

    Some shochu would make a proper antidote.

    But here’s to trying new things!!

    1. The imperialist Japanese liquor shochu? Surely soju would be more in order, given the portrait of the late Dear Leader. Preferably Pyongyang soju, which occasionally gets imported to the West when tensions get slightly reduced.

  7. Taking good coffee and stirring in chocolate is to me just like taking a good single malt and stirring in a big slug of ginger ale, or topping a $20/lb prime rib with a nice layer of catsup.

    1. hmmm no, more like chocolate and marshmallows or chocolate and croissant or chocolate and ice cream or chocolate and… well, you get the idea.

    2. Good coffee and good chocolate is perfectly nice.  Just as good catsup (yes, there is such a thing) should cause no offence on any steak.

  8. True fact: Ghirrardelli is looking for a chief R&D food engineer. I wish wish wish wish wish I had the appropriate degree!!! Is that the dream job of a lifetime or what? The job showed up in my Linked In feed. 

  9. True fact: Ghirrardelli is looking for a chief R&D Food Scientist. I would die to have the job!! Isn’t that just a dream? Yes, I will be Willy Wonka. Yes I will. It showed up in my Linked In job feed. 

      1. Yes, I have two Discus IDs and thought the first one had not posted properly. Or the hive thing. Could be.

  10. wait… wait…  ok, ~44 comments. that should do it. searching for any mention of “mao”…  none wtf??

    1.  Mono-Amine Oxidase?  Or are you referring to the picture, which is Kim Jong Il and not at all Mao.

      1. “Med Andre Ord” ….nah, you caught me; at a glance i thought it was a photo of Mao Zedong.  what a fool i am.

  11. Most white hot chocolate drinks are just palm oil, sugar, and vanillin. Note the complete lack of  cocoa products.

    I’m surprised by the white chocolate hate here. If you don’t like it, don’t eat it; all the more for us who do. I’m very partial to Askinosie’s white chocolate, and have been to their factory in Springfield, MO. White chocolate wouldn’t make a very good drink, as the whole history of making edible and drinkable chocolate has been trying to extract or neutralize the waxy cocoa butter.

  12. I see I have World Market’s ‘Dulce De Leche’ and ‘Salted Caramel’ hot cocoa mix in my pantry, and I was trying really hard not to look at the ingredients too carefully, so I might enjoy a cup on one of these snowy March days in Colorado. 

    ‘Tis the price one occasionally pays for reading BB.  *sighs, whilst eating half a ham and “veggie swiss cheese” sammich*

  13. I have lost all sense of taste from my taste buds (temporarily I hope) due to an extremely powerful mouthwash  my dentist has prescribed for me.

    American foods, once sickeningly sweet, over-salted, and/or acridly bitter, have all suddenly become *delicious*. Without the tastes overwhelming them, the aromas are truly delightful. Bread tastes like bread again, instead of cake!

    Hrm. Maybe the beer’s drinkable now…

  14. Gotta love the disclaimer on the Amazon page:

    Legal Disclaimer
    Actual product packaging and materials may contain more and different information than what is shown on our website. We recommend that you do not rely solely on the information presented and that you always read labels, warnings, and directions before using or consuming a product. Please see our full disclaimer below.

  15. Personally I make hot chocolate out of it (using milk) and it’s not bad.  I prefer the double chocolate version over the white, but mixing either with a bit of the mocha works out well.  A little vanilla extract to finish it off and some fresh whip cream…it’s pretty good.

  16. As much as I like to support my historic local San Franciscan brands, Ghirardelli just isn’t up to snuff. The last time I ate any of their chocolate, I read the wrapper and saw “high fructose corn syrup”. And… that was the end of that.

    Life is too short for bad chocolate.

    1. I buy those Pound Plus chocolate bars from Trader Joe’s, which may not be the finest chocolate available, but contain nothing but cocoa products, sugar and lecithin and are cheap enough to keep my quarter-pound-a-day habit afloat.

      1. I think TJ’s has some great chocolate! Good doesn’t HAVE to be expensive, imo. I just avoid stuff that is overly processed (having HFCS or lots of preservatives). I was a little sad when I discovered Ghirardelli was producing that.

    2. I’ve been told the deal with Ghirardelli is you need to stick to the couverture/whole sale grade stuff. I think the only way to buy that at retail is as bags of discs. Although the “baking bars” might be the same thing.

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