Sunday, January 15, 2017

More Creamy Than Flavorful, Stephen's Gourmet Pumpkin Spice Hot Cocoa Disappoints.

The Good: Affordable, Environmental impact of canister, Nothing truly bad in it!
The Bad: Weaker flavor than I'd want
The Basics: A surprise disappointment from Stephen’s Gourmet Pumpkin Spice Hot Cocoa in that it has a fairly weak flavor that does not truly embody pumpkin spice.

I am a huge fan of hot and seasonal beverages. I love seasonal beverages and I am thrilled when autumn comes because it means the start of pumpkin spiced everything and peppermint mocha, which is one of my favorite combinations in the world. So, I was very excited when I found canisters of Stephen's Gourmet Pumpkin Spice Hot Cocoa at my local discount store. I was very excited to try the hot cocoa and I was super disappointed by how the flavor does not represent actual pumpkin spice flavors.

Stephen’s Gourmet Pumpkin Spice Hot Cocoa does not taste bad, but it does not taste authenticly flavored like pumpkin or the spices associated with pumpkin spice.


The Pumpkin Spice hot cocoa mix is part of the Stephen’s Gourmet premium hot cocoa line. The mix comes in a one-pound canister and is an aromatic powder that needs to be mixed with near boiling water to create a beverage. For each mug of cocoa, this not oppressively expensive, but it is pricier than most major brands of hot chocolate.

Ease Of Preparation

The Pumpkin Spice hot cocoa mix is fairly easy to make. This cocoa has a wonderful shelf life - the canister I bought a month ago had an expiration date of January 23, 2018, which is a good shelf life! Because it is resealable and has some preservatives in is, this is likely to last virtually forever unopened. A single serving is three rounded Tablespoons and ¾ cup of hot water. One needs to measure out the cocoa to reconstitute it properly.

As a result, preparation is not difficult, but requires some measuring that packets do not. The canister must be opened, the powder measured out into a mug that is at least eight ounces large. Then, simply pour hot (near-boiling) water over the powder and stir. Stir the powder until there are no blobs of cocoa powder visible in the water or giving resistance from the bottom. The beverage will have a bright orange color to it and will be entirely fluid.


Stephen’s Gourmet Pumpkin Spice hot cocoa has a scent that is oddly subdued for a hot spiced beverage. The scent of vanilla and nutmeg. The spiced scents are definitely sublimated in the aroma to the scent of vanilla and something vaguely fruity. The thing is, the aroma is not even one of pumpkin, so the fruity portion of the aroma is not distinct in that way.

In the mouth, Stephen’s Gourmet Pumpkin Spice Cocoa tastes milky and sugary. The flavor transitions into a slightly sour (like fruity sour) as it finishes. The flavor is much stronger vanilla than anything else. When I think of pumpkin spice, I think of cinnamon and nutmeg, as well as some other spices and the Stephen's Gourmet Pumpkin Spice Hot Cocoa is noticeably lacking in the flavor of any of those spices. Instead, the Stephen's Gourmet Pumpkin Spice Hot Cocoa has a vaguely fruity and much stronger vanilla flavor. This is a milky-flavored beverage with only subtle fruity flavors to it.

The Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate has a sweet and slightly sour aftertaste which dissipates only a few seconds after the last of the cocoa is consumed!


Stephen’s Gourmet is a hot cocoa mix and therefore not the most nutritious things ever, though the Pumpkin Spice flavor could be far less nutritious than it is. While I am used to reviewing things like all natural teas where the ingredients are all easily pronounceable and recognizable, the Pumpkin Spice hot cocoa has very few ingredients that cannot be easily identified. The primary ingredients are sugar, sweet whey, and maltodextrin. It does not surprise me that the Stephen's Gourmet Pumpkin Spice Hot Cocoa has no real flavor of either pumpkin or spiced flavor to it given that the ingredient's list has neither. It is not vegan compliant as a result of the whey and dry milk in the mix. It is, however, gluten-free.

In each serving of Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate, there are 150 calories, twenty-five of which are from fat. There are two grams of saturated fat, so it is not the most healthy beverage ever. There is no cholesterol, but a fair 8% of one's recommended daily allowance of sodium out of a single serving of this beverage! There is a little protein, 1 gram, but not enough to live off this. The only other notable nutrients in the Stephen's Gourmet Pumpkin Spice Hot Cocoa is 8% of the RDA of Calcium. In other words, this product is not a nutritious food product, though it does taste all right.


So long as one leaves the Pumpkin Spice powder in its canister, it ought to stay usable. One assumes it will last quite a while and dissolve appropriately when one attempts to use it. The canister, for those of us who consider the environmental impact of such things, are much more environmentally friendly and affordable than packets would be.

Cleanup is very easy. If the product spills while dispensing the powder into the mug, simply wipe it up or brush it up with a dry or damp cloth. If it has already been reconstituted with water into hot cocoa, simply wipe it up. Light fabrics are likely to stain if this gets on them, in which case consult your fabric care guide to clean it up. Mugs may need to be soaked for those who want to get the peanut butter remnants out without using a spoon (ouch for the ears!) or their finger (highly recommended, except when in polite company!).


The Stephen's Gourmet Pumpkin Spice Hot Cocoa is not bad, but it is a poor representation of both pumpkin and spiced flavors; this is very much a milky, vanilla flavored beverage.

For other Stephen's Gourmet hot cocoa reviews, please check out:
Stephen's Gourmet Peppermint Candycane Hot Cocoa
Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoa
Peanut Butter Cup


For other beverage reviews, please visit my Food Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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