Cocoa Quest: Ho-ho-ho-hot-chocolate

This winter, I took a step in my Cocoa Life Journey to bring you the story of my quest for the best cocoa in town.

I’ve been around the hot cocoa block, my friends. I’ve drunk cocoa from a shop in Belgium which claimed to be “the world’s best cocoa”–and I’m pretty sure they were RIGHT. I spent two weeks in the Czech Republic at a coffeeshop whose cocoa was basically melted chocolate in a cup, pudding-like, nay, GOD-LIKE. I’m not a professional cocoa-er, of course, but I like to think I’ve tasted some dang fine cocoa in my 28 years. This winter, I took another step in my Cocoa Life Journey to bring you the story of my quest for the best cocoa in town.

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Capital Coffee & Desserts — $

You’ve got plenty of options here in terms of flavor thanks to a variety of syrups. I opted for a tiramisu cocoa, which was pretty good. This is your standard cocoa with a flavor. Think of it as the business major student of cocoas–it’s got too many important business things on its mind to bother with much flair.1 Overall, if you’re looking for a no-frills cocoa while you’re out and about shopping, then this is the cocoa for you.

Ellwood Thompson’s — $

Similar to Capital Coffee, but in this case we’ve got some steaming going on. That was nice. However, I’m going to be honest. It was all fine and good, but nothing to write home about. It didn’t take me on a cocoa Odyssey of the Mind. BUT…it’s cocoa from a grocery store. A fancypants local green grocery store that I’m pretty sure resets your chakras while you shop,2 but ultimately a grocery store. So, for what it really is, it’s just fine. Get some while you’re shopping and you’re sure to enjoy. You could go your whole life drinking this cocoa and not think of any complaints.


Let’s say you want a little more umph with your cocoa. A little more personality. A little more panache. I take you to…

Can Can Brasserie — $$

This is the cocoa I would sip with my petit bébé dressed in a little pompom beret sitting on my knee, and we would talk about Proust together, and her first word would be Mère. You can’t drink only-OK cocoa in this kind of setting, and Can Can delivers a rich drink with decadent whipped topping included. It was decently dark and smooth, and the atmosphere doesn’t hurt.

Lamplighter — $

Steamed cocoa served with a pretty design in the froth, yes please! Richmond’s coffeeshop darling does not disappoint here. Not too sweet, not too rich, and not at all expensive either, this is a satisfying cocoa that doesn’t taste like Swiss Miss. Personal tip: enjoy with a Katie bagel and a side of tattoos.

Godiva Chocolatier at Short Pump Town Center — $$$

Let me be clear: you’re paying for quality over quantity here. But let me transcribe for you my note about this cup of divine winter nectar: “Sweet Jesus in a cup” is what I wrote. This is “stick to your ribs” cocoa, and I don’t say that lightly because I’ve drunk literal pudding-cocoa in the past. Savor every sweet expensive drop. It’s wonderfully rich, both in flavor and price point. Reward yourself for battling Short Pump traffic with a cuppa.

“But wait!” you might be saying. “You haven’t declared a winner yet, and I’m cold and I need cocoa now!” Don’t fret my child, for we have come to the cocoa finale. Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.3 The best cocoa in Richmond can be found at…

Proper Pie — $$

This cocoa was billed to my receipt as “Hot Chocky” so right there, you should know it’s a winner with that Kiwi lingo. I took a sip of this hot chocolate, and let me tell you–if you aren’t standing in line at Proper Pie right now for some, there’s something wrong in your life. The best part of this drink is the very large fluffy homemade marshmallow that came on top, sprinkled with chocolate shavings, begging to be devoured. And devour it I did! It was perfection, floating there like a gooey white diamond and big enough to savor in multiple nibbles with sips.

And with my belly full of marshmallow and chocolate, I hurried off into the night, sated and warm, and feeling maybe…just a little bit….dare I say it…..jollier.

Photo by: massdistraction

  1. At the last VCU graduation I attended many moons ago, I swear the Business Department’s color was listed as “DRAB”. 
  2. Do chakras need resetting? That’s how off my chakras are, I don’t even know. Related: what is a chakra? 
  3. Unless they’re cold, in which case you can keep them. 
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Hayley DeRoche

Hayley DeRoche is a librarian with a penchant for cardigans and corduroys. Luckily, her professional life revolves more around technology & information than fashion.

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