Hot chocolate

The Quest for the Perfect Hot Chocolate

While a good cup of English breakfast tea is lovely, there’s not much else you can do with it. I see a good cup of tea as a necessity, so having one while out isn’t usually considered a treat.

I’m also really fussy about how I take my tea. Proper builders’ tea – strong, just a splash of milk. No sugar. The best cafes add hot water to a bag in a mug. Or even better, they provide a teapot, little jug of milk and pretty tea cups. Too many cafes pour the tea from an urn and add too much milk, making an insipid liquid that is like dirty dishwater. It tastes like tea-flavoured milk. Yuck.

A good cup of tea, from a teapot.

A good cup of tea, from a teapot.

I can’t stand coffee. Never have. I’ve tried all sorts of coffee – flavoured, with hot chocolate, with Baileys. Even the smell is repellent to me. It’s a shame, because coffee lovers have the choice of all sorts of multi-syllabled delights to choose from in a café.

So, for a special treat while out, I will usually opt for a hot chocolate. Finding a good one can be a minefield, though.

The perfect hot chocolate for me has a rich chocolate flavour, like dark chocolate. It is the chocolate hit I am after, not to cure a sweet craving – and there is a difference. I’ve tried a range of café hot chocolates that are too sweet, too sugary. Not satisfying.

Hot chocolate

This hot chocolate looks promising, with the yummy topping and the pretty saucer. It tasted disappointing though. There’s a lesson there about not judging by appearances.

Toppings such as cream and marshmallows are often appreciated. They are sweet, of course, and welcome when I am after a sugar hit. I like to find a satisfying dark hot chocolate beneath the sweet confection, but I am sometimes disappointed. There are a couple of independent cafes nearby that meet my exacting specifications: one even has a salted caramel hot chocolate, which is delicious. It’s good to spend money that benefits local businesses, so it’s a win-win for my palate and their takings.

The best hot chocolate I ever had was a very simple one. It was from a hospital Costa that Martin proudly brought me after I’d given birth to Hugo. During the days before Hugo’s birth I was on a very limited food and drink intake (it was because of my illness, and I was on an IV drip – I wasn’t being cruelly starved). That hot chocolate was delicious. A rich, tasty, delicious chocolate hit that also helped perk up my energy levels. Costa hot chocolate will always remind me of my time in hospital. There are happy and sad connotations related to those memories.

So, I know where to get a good hot chocolate that meets my exacting specifications. Like a true coinnoiseur, however, my quest for the perfect chocolatey beverage continues.

That was a good hot chocolate.

That was a good hot chocolate.

11 thoughts on “The Quest for the Perfect Hot Chocolate

  1. meghanoc says:

    I love your post- first I love a good hot chocolate too! and tea (green tea, back for me). but cant stomach coffee either 🙂

    and you also reminded me of my associations in pregnancy with hot chocolate. when I was hospitalized in my last weeks I had a coworker who was on that day ask if she could bring me anything. I asked her to bring me a hot chocolate from the cafe int he lobby- made with milk. I was mere 10 floors above it, but couldnt go down because I was hooked to the monitors. The hospital powder and water variety just didnt cut it. So she brought it up to me and it was delicious. then gave me a big stomach ache because I forgot to request skim milk (whole milk is too much for me). but it was such a nice gesture. thank you for reminding me of a happy memory.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leigh Kendall says:

      Thanks Meghan. It’s amazing how such simple things can give us happy memories. I’m not a fan of the powder and hot water variety either – sorry to hear yours gave you tummy ache because of the whole milk – but I’m glad you enjoyed it while you were drinking it xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Emma says:

    Costa hot chocolate NEVER disappoints me, it’s fantastic. The Black Forest seasonal one was probably the best thing about my Christmas this year…!


  3. Tara says:

    Agreed. Hot chocolate (with mint) is the only hot drink I have so it’s got to be good. I’ve tried LOTS but I’m afraid I’m Starbucks all the way, although I’d love to find an independent shop that makes one that tastes as nice.


  4. Casey Bottono says:

    Hi, Leigh.

    Great post. You’ve managed to clarify why the vast majority of hot chocolates don’t cut it for me, either. Did have a good one yesterday, though. Good, but not the absolute best. Still looking in that regard. The hot chocolate available at my uni has a peculiar similarity to drinking chocolate fudge cake. Although it provides a chocolate hit, it’s a little too intense. I hope you’ll keep us posted (or at least tweet me) with further results from this ongoing experiment.

    Thank you, and take care!



    • Leigh Kendall says:

      Thanks Casey, there is a fine balance between nicely chocolatey and too sweet with a hot chocolate. Pleased to hear you had a good one yesterday, but yes, I shall let you know when I find the holy grail of hot chocolates! Thanks for commenting xx


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