I may be a college student, but I still haven't been able to bring myself to like coffee. When it comes to ordering drinks at cafés, my options are very limited – it usually comes down to either hot chocolate or water, and I pick hot chocolate, every time. Naturally, I had to find Berkeley's best hot chocolate spots. Here's a list of how the cafés close to campus stack up, so head over and get (re)acquainted with coffee's underrated cousin.
5. Café Milano: 12oz for $2.75
With its convenient location and aesthetic indoor space, Café Milano is always bustling with college students. It’s the perfect place to meet up for that group project you’ve been putting off, or even just to sit down and get some work done.
While the café definitely has a quiet, artsy vibe, I found the hot chocolate here to be less-than-stellar. The hot chocolate, while hot, tasted more like steamed milk than chocolate. That distinct chocolate flavor didn’t really come out, and it lacked any real oomph ; it could have come right out of a package.
Final Verdict: It’s not Berkeley's best hot chocolate, but it’s very reasonably priced and will do in a pinch, especially if you’re looking for something close by to help you wait out the rain.
4. Blue Bottle Coffee Company: 12oz for $4
I’ll be completely honest – I was expecting much more from Blue Bottle. The hot chocolate itself wasn’t sweet at all, and the foam on top did nothing to heighten the flavor. While it mostly just tasted like steamed milk, I could at least taste hints of cocoa powder in this one.
While it was nothing to look down on, it was also nothing memorable. After all, Blue Bottle is first and foremost a coffee joint. If they put a little more effort into perfecting their hot chocolate, it could be phenomenal, because they certainly have the talent.
Final Verdict: If you’re going to trek all the way to Blue Bottle, order a cup of coffee – the hot chocolate is just not worth the hassle.
3. Blue Door Café: 16oz for $4.15
A distinct hazelnut chocolate flavor permeates all 16 ounces of this hot chocolate, but not in an overpowering way. It even smells like Nutella, and the hazelnut foam on top only adds depth, texture, and richness to a drink that’s already bursting with flavor. If that wasn’t enough to convince you to give Café Blue Door a try, they also offer free Wi-Fi in a space that’s great for studying, and it’s just a five minute walk away from campus – just make sure you get there before they run out of Nutella.
Final Verdict: It is slightly more towards the pricey end, but the Nutella Hot Chocolate should definitely be on your bucket list of things to try before you graduate.
2. Musical Offering Café: 12oz for $3.25
I thought Nutella Hot Chocolate was the most radical thing I was going to try on my mission to find the best hot chocolate in Berkeley, but then I went to Musical Offering and tried their phenomenal Raspberry Hot Chocolate. The ratio of raspberry to chocolate was on point: the raspberry hits first, and the chocolate kicks in after, complementing the raspberry flavor.
Final Verdict: If you've ever had an amazing chocolate layer cake with raspberry filling, this hot chocolate is that, albeit in liquid form. Danielle, who graciously took pictures for this article, says it tasted even better cold — there's no going wrong with this one.
1. 1951 Coffee Company: 12oz for $3.00
A very rich, flavorful drink, 1951's hot chocolate has just the right amount of chocolate flavor. What made this cup of hot chocolate unique was its feel-good chocolate vibe with a kick that only coffee can usually provide, all topped off with foam that added depth and creaminess to every sip. Combined with the welcoming, cozy, modern study-environment and it’s amazing mission, 1951 makes the best hot chocolate I've ever had.
Final Verdict: Picking Berkeley's best hot chocolate was not an easy feat, but I eventually settled on 1951’s tantalizing creation. Just go, and thank me later.
There's just something about hot chocolate that makes you feel cozy, and these five are no exception. Give yourself some love in this cloudy weather, discover your new favorite rainy day drink, and never look back.