I’ve never been a coffee fan —it’s too bitter for my taste— and I’ve only recently gotten into teas and infusions. But I’ve always loved hot chocolate. For as long as I can remember, hot chocolate has been my favorite hot beverage. I’ve experimented a bit, trying to find my favorite kind: cinnamon, mint, sweet, bitter, topped with whipped cream, with tiny marshmallows, anything I could come up with. It depends on my mood, but I enjoy a rich, lightly bitter hot chocolate the best. As soon as the leaves began changing color, I made my way around campus, trying the different hot chocolates at different coffee shops so that you don’t have to.
Located inside the Porter Biosciences building, Foolish Craig’s will serve you a creamy, light, and smooth hot chocolate. Depending on what time you get here, they’ll make it for you pretty fast. At 10 a.m. there’s always a long line, and you can easily wait half an hour for your drink, but the baristas are super nice, and the customer service is five-star worthy. The hot chocolate, though, would be only four stars. The milk and chocolate had distinct flavors as they were not fully mixed, and I’m personally not a fan of milk flavor. It was still good, but I’ll stick to an Earl Gray tea from Foolish Craig’s instead.
If you walk in through the front doors of the engineering building and take a left, you’ll find Gravity Café. My favorite part about Gravity is their hours. They open early enough that I can stop by on my way to class first thing in the morning, and they close late enough that I can go after my last class of the day, too. Their hot chocolate is rich, made with dark chocolate served with whipped cream. Like every café on campus, whipped cream is optional, but it gives it some sweetness. The first sip, I will warn you, doesn’t taste like chocolate. Whether you get whipped cream or not, the top has a layer of foam. It has a richer texture than Foolish Craig’s, and it is served warmer, but without the cream at the top it wouldn’t be as sweet. There’s also another Gravity location inside the Koelbel Building next door!
If you want to keep it classic, you can head to the Starbucks inside the UMC on campus. Compared to most hot chocolates, it’s pretty bitter, but it’s served hot enough that if you put in a pack of sugar, it’ll surely dissolve and sweeten the whole cup. Is it worth the wait in line? Maybe. Starbucks is a great place to get a warm drink especially around the holidays, and I personally believe you can never go wrong with their hot chocolate.
The Laughing Goat
I’ve obviously heard about The Laughing Goat on campus, but it’s truly right inside Norlin! I can’t believe how many times I’ve probably walked past it without seeing the sticker on the door or stopping in. I wasn’t a fan, and not just because they spelled my name wrong, but because a third of my cup was foam. It was sweet but leaning dangerously into bitter territory. And about half-way through, I was starting to get a bitter, acrid aftertaste.
This one I found by chance. I was in the C4C, as one is on a Wednesday afternoon, and I decided to wander around. It’s right before WeatherTech Café, and I would have walked past it had it not been for the signs they have out by the doors. Their hot cocoa is thick, kind of dense, and has a rich chocolate flavor. So much so that my 16-ounce cup was a little too much. At first, it was great, but then I felt like I needed a buttered toast or something savory to counter the intensity of the chocolate.
Hot chocolate is so easy to enjoy, while you’re studying, while you’re walking to class, or while you’re simply taking a break from it all. Finals are just around the corner. We’ve all worked so hard. So take a moment to breathe in the cool fall air. CU Boulder has cafés all over, so wherever you are you can grab a cup of rich hot cocoa and press pause.