And daaaaaaaaang....I'm glad we did. I'm not going to lie, I love it. Upon cracking the foil seal I took a big whiff of the cocoa powder waiting to for hot milk to dissolve its every granule. It smells absolutely delicious, and pretty similar to Nestle's Abuelita, which is the closest approximation we've found stateside to the hot chocolate we've enjoyed in Mexico. Imagine classic cocoa-roma with a healthy dose of cinnamon, and yes, a tinge of cayenne. A few minutes later I got to pour in some hot milk and stir it up and take a sip...it doesn't hit you right at first, as evidenced by Sandy's reaction. "It's not so spicy...oh wait...*cough* it is," she said with a slight pain-free grimace. For some, that first hit might be a little much, but trust me, it gets better as tastebuds adjust. The spicy cocoa has the classic hot chocolate taste of "too rich to be milk chocolate, too sweet to be dark chocolate" with a heavy, heavy dose of cinnamon, like there's a full stick of it right in your cup. I'm almost convinced that's what most of the "spice" comes from, except there's enough cayenne to throw its weight around in there without getting out of whack. This cocoa's absolutely delicious from first sip to last gulp.
There's a few things I could quibble about, I suppose. First, $4.79 strikes me as perhaps a little high for hot cocoa mix, especially given the size and the directions to use a couple tablespoons (which is a wee overboard) for each cup. I would say something more about that, except somebody on our Facebook page said they spent three times as much on a comparable brand that wasn't nearly as good, so maybe it's not a bad deal after all. And secondly, this is dumb, but man, I hate heating milk. Don't get me wrong, milk makes waaay better hot cocoa than water ever will, and I can't imagine this being any good with water, but I actually have to pay attention while heating milk instead of waiting for a whistlin' kettle as I'm blocking all of my mom's Frontierville requests. Also, you can't heat milk as hot so it cools off faster, meaning I had to enjoy this a little quicker than I prefer. Other than that, I literally have no complaints about the cocoa picante. And as always, bonus points for being both organic and fair trade.
Sandy's not a huge fan, which to me is kinda surprising. If one were to make an action figure of her, her accessories would be, in this order: 1. iPhone 2. A book 3. A warm blanket or four and 4. Some type of hot beverage. That's how she survives these winter months, and since she's off coffee and craving sweets (the joys of pregnancy), I though this would be right up her alley. "Meh" is about what she says. "I wouldn't make a point of making it, but if you were making it I wouldn't mind having some." Possible interpretation: Heating milk bothers her way more than it bothers me. No matter, she gave it a three and she's sticking to it. That's way too low in my book. If it were up to solely me, we'd have another pantheon member, or at least the TJ spicy hot chocolate would be knockin' on heaven's door for it. At least I can say I got it as close as I could with a perfect five.
Bottom line: Trader Jose's Spicy Hot Cocoa: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons