It's the ultimate picture of winter comfort: snowflakes falling outside your window, flames of the fireplace flickering in front of you and a steaming mug of hot chocolate swaddled in your hands. The freshly whipped cream, the fluffy marshmallows – it's all there.

But are you holding a mug of hot chocolate or is it actually called hot cocoa?

Surprisingly the two are very different. Although the terms are used interchangeably these days, hot cocoa is much lighter, its main ingredients being cocoa powder, sugar and milk. Hot chocolate is a richer, thicker beverage because it's basically melted chocolate with milk or cream. This makes it a tad more bitter too.

I love hot chocolate, and in the spirit of the hot chocolate festival that's currently going on, I set out to find the perfectly decadent hot chocolate in Vancouver – not hot cocoa. After tasting the selection at multiple places, I came across a clear winner.

Mink Chocolates Cafe

Athena Huynh

Their 70% drinking chocolate is divine. Each sip is full of pure chocolatey goodness! You can even buy the mix with instructions to duplicate it at home, or order a mouth-watering chocolate fondue while you're there to dip pieces of waffles and fruits in.

An honourable mention goes out to Koko Monk Chocolates. While their original beverage was not as thick, it had layers of flavour that I really enjoyed. For the more adventurous they have multiple unexpected flavour combinations – like olive and chilli! Everything can also be made vegan.

Athena Huynh

The hot chocolate festival that's being celebrated right now – combined with this dreary Vancouver weather – means you should definitely add a hot chocolate tasting to your to-do list! (And preferably, at Mink).