Classic Cuppa Cocoa

Photo courtesy of the Caltech Archives

Photo courtesy of the Caltech Archives

Arthur A. Noyes moved to California—and Caltech—in 1919 to build the Institute’s chemistry division, housed in what was then the Gates Laboratory of Chemistry (now the Parsons-Gates Hall of Administration). In addition to shaping the policies that would help create a world-renowned hub of science and engineering, Noyes introduced at least one early Caltech tradition: hot cocoa. 

Research meetings, held weekly in Gates, featured cocoa prepared according to this precise recipe, created by Noyes and posted to a bulletin board in the kitchen.

• Whipping cream seems to have been stored in the organic lab’s ice chest. 

• Cocoa was accompanied by cakes or cookies purchased at what had been a Safeway store on Lake Avenue. 

• No pre-ground cocoa here—grad students carefully weighed and boiled cocoa beans.

At these seminars, incidentally, cocoa prepared by the Noyes recipe was always served. Always. No exceptions.
— Lyman Bonner (PhD ’35)
Fall 2017, SoCaltechJon Nalick