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What's the best hot chocolate on campus to cozy up with? The definitive ranking

Days are shorter, nights are colder, break is almost here and the smell of peppermint makes everyone tremble with the spirit of the holidays. There’s no better season for curling up with a warm drink as you cram for finals. For some that might be coffee, for others it’s tea, but for many, it’s a good cup of hot chocolate. 

A cup of hot chocolate can be a great means of relaxation. Take in the flavor and you can often feel at ease, relaxed with the comfort of cacao’s liquid embrace and imparted with a sense of warmth within your soul. There are many places to get it on campus, but do you know which one is best? The Chronicle took a look into various vendors that serve the beverage to help make your cocoa conundrums a bit easier to resolve.

The Chronicle selected seven places where a student is most likely to grab a cup: Au Bon Pain, Bella Union, Beyu Blue, Café, The Nasher Museum Café, Trinity Café and Saladelia in Von der Heyden Pavilion. We rated them from 1 to 5 (1 being the worst, 5 being the best) based on five factors.

CHOCOLATINESS looked at the flavor and power of chocolate within each drink, discerning how noticeable its presence was and the impact it had on us.

COMFORT FACTOR refers to the personal sense of comfort we felt while we were drinking it—think of it as a warm, chocolate embrace that results from each sip.

MILKINESS refers to the presence of a milky flavor in the cup.

BOLDNESS refers to how strong the combined flavors were.

“HITS RIGHT” refers to the loving punch that you feel within your soul as you take each sip.

From here, we rated them individually and averaged our ratings from each category into one, and averaged all categories to come up with an overall score. Here’s what we thought:

Last place: Au Bon Pain

Chocolatiness - 1.3

Comfort Factor - 1.3

Milkiness - 2

Boldness - 1.3

Hits Right - 2

Overall - 1.6

We found that this cup was a bit too artificial. You could smell the sweetness within, which was basically all that it was. The chocolate flavor was lacking and it was generally watery. It didn’t impress us.


Alex Leo-Guerra


Sixth place: Beyu Blue

Chocolatiness - 1.8

Comfort Factor - 2.5

Milkiness - 3.3

Boldness - 1

Hits Right - 2.5

Overall - 2.2

Sufficiently foamy and marshmallowy, Beyu Blue’s offering is a relatively average hot chocolate experience. A whiff of the drink indulges the senses with fruity undertones but the flavor itself was lacking in depth. 


Alex Leo-Guerra


Fifth place: Café

Chocolatiness - 3.8

Comfort Factor - 2.8

Milkiness - 3.5

Boldness - 2

Hits Right - 2.5

Overall - 2.9

Café’s hot chocolate has a more make-at-home flavor and composition: each sip is more watery than the last. The foam on top might’ve been the best part of the entire thing, as it imparts a feeling of nostalgia upon the consumer as you drink it to good ol’ pop-in-the-microwave satisfaction.


Alex Leo-Guerra


Fourth place: Bella Union

Chocolatiness - 2.8

Comfort Factor - 3.8

Milkiness - 3

Boldness - 2.5

Hits Right - 3.3

Overall - 3.1

If anything, Bella was the true neutral of hot chocolate. We found that it had a relatively normal flavor and appeal and considered it an average cup of hot chocolate. Neither terrible nor incredible, this cup was something that you could consistently feel good about. 


Alex Leo-Guerra


Third place: Vondy

Chocolatiness - 3

Comfort Factor - 3.8

Milkiness - 3.8

Boldness - 2.5

Hits Right -  3

Overall - 3.2

Vondy’s hot chocolate provides a cozy experience, making you want to cuddle up with a good book by the fireplace. With a slightly fruity flavor and a sufficient amount of foam atop, it gets the job done without making you fall in love with it. It’s reliable and will be there for you through your 10-page papers and problem sets. 


Alex Leo-Guerra


First runner-up: Trinity Café

Chocolatiness - 4

Comfort Factor - 3.3

Milkiness - 4.5

Boldness - 3

Hits Right - 2.8

Overall - 3.5

Trinity Café’s Ghirardelli Hot Chocolate is just two pumps of pure chocolate with hot milk stirred in. The drink’s simplicity allowed itself to shine as one of the best cups on campus. The aroma was deeply chocolatey, the foam was present as both a textural element and a flavor enhancer, and the overall experience was sublime. 


Alex Leo-Guerra


And the winner is: Nasher Café

Chocolatiness - 4.3

Comfort Factor - 3.8

Milkiness - 4

Boldness - 3.5

Hits Right - 3

Overall - 3.7

Coming in at the top is the most expensive hot chocolate on campus, though worth all $4.50. We were particularly impressed by its smoky flavor profile and its overall comforting feel, and believe it's worthy of the crown of hot cocoa royalty.


Alex Leo-Guerra


A hot chocolate song (to the tune of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer)

Nasher Café hot chocolate / had a very tasty flavor / and if you ever sipped it / you would find lots to savor / all of the other cocoas / used to be good and tasty / but the Nasher hot chocolate / made the other drinks seem lazy.

Then one chilly finals week / Dukies came to slay / students with your notes so right / you’ll give those exams a fight.

They made it through with chocolate / hot and toasty for their brains / Dukies who study all night / Nasher cocoa relieves the pain.

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