HoChos 20, 21

Saying good-bye is difficult, and I am an emotional person.

This festival has been a great deal of photographic and palatable fun! It is always a pleasure to connect and re-connect with people through hot chocolate adventures during the festival weeks, and I love having the project of visiting the *locations each year.

* I should note that I decided not to visit two locations due to the drinks offered, as they did not align with my diet or morals very obviously (crickets on hocho?!).

Leading up to one of my favourite days of the year – Valentine’s Day – I wrapped up my festival journey with two more delectable stops.

HoCho #20: Brownie Delight, Chez Christophe (~$8.70)

I had been waiting quite some time for the opportunity to sample this hot chocolate, named after one of the most chocolaty treats one can hope to enjoy – the brownie! With almond milk in the mix, my drink was blended to delicious, smooth, chocolaty perfection – a rather dark chocolaty perfection, I might add.

The time of day, good company with AE, and two beautifully-crafted drinks inspired a great deal of photography taking place at Chez Christophe…

 AE enjoyed a milkier Christella Decadence with a sphere of Chez Christophe’s hazelnut cream – imagine a Ferrero Rocher going into your hot chocolate, if you will…

HoCho #21: Adults Only, Diva at the Met (~ $8.25)

Here we are… The final stop.

At the end of my hot chocolate festival journey, I found myself sitting in a classy establishment known as Diva at the Met, located in the Metropolitan Hotel. Seated in the lounge, my company and I ordered both festival options: Adults Only, and Sizzling Spice.

To meet high demand, and to achieve the envisioned taste of the specialty chef that created the drinks throughout the festival, the drinks were prepared in advance with dairy milk. However, I could not turn back in my journey – so I took on one quarter of the beverage with another quarter taken on by my partner-in-chocolate.

Adults Only was an incredibly smooth hot chocolate served with a matcha green tea cake (cute-sized), with a chocolate disc placed atop the beverage – in the middle of this disc was a chocolate sphere containing Bailey’s (hence, adults only). As the steam from the hot chocolate rose and warmed the disc…


After the Bailey’s addition, the drink reached a new level of smooth drinking (and later, stomach aches) – it was delicious! We could not stop saying “WOW!” throughout our small chocolaty excursion at this festival stop.

It has been a wonderful hot chocolate season as I wrap up
my third round of festival going and my second round of
truly dedicated festival reviewing and exploration.
Hopefully, at next year’s festival, I will have an opportunity
to win one of the festival prizes for their photography contests!

Further, and perhaps most significantly,
it is my pleasure to have contributed to the
projects and mission of East Van Roasters in supporting
women from the Rainier Hotel in Vancouver.

HoChos 17, 18, 19, 20

HoCho #17: Rainforest, Bel Café (~ $8.00)

I enjoyed this beverage in good company on a very, very rainy Vancouver evening. With the clock reminding us that only 20 minutes remained to complete our drink, we dove in – me with my whipped-creamless concoction, and my comrades with their colour-topped artistries, so-called the Rainforest by Bel Cafe.

The whipped cream featured on my friend’s drink in the main photograph was mango-flavoured, and described as tasting like mango ice cream or gelato. Beneath that was a warm, dark cocoa with the slightest hints of tropical fruit (I ordered mine with almond milk, and I believe this covered some of the fruity flavours that would have otherwise been more detectable). 

A florentine flavoured with nuts and dry mango came with the drink, and was deliciously chewy and crunchy, and served as a nice pause in the sipping experience of this festival stop.

HoCho #18: Miss Scarlet’s Pecan Pie, Gem Chocolates (~ $6.25)

Gem Chocolates offered a pecan pie-flavoured hot chocolate for the third week of the hot chocolate festival, and the pecan flavour came through with strength!

There were notable particles of pecan throughout the hot chocolate, particularly near the bottom, and it was a milky chocolate ganache (a bit too much for my stomach, in the end). Caramel added to the smooth drinking, and was also featured in the the special festival topping along with pecan praline. 

A simply delectable treat for the lactose tolerant.

HoCho #19: PO-TAY-TO PO-TAH-TO, Soirette Macaron & Tea (~ $7.23)

I must say – this was delicious.

Speaking as someone whose nickname (by some) has potato in it, I was eager to try this purple potato hot chocolate – because it sounds crazy! Seated in the pristine whiteness of Soirette Macaron & Tea, he and I ordered a raspberry macaroon cake and the festival special.

It had a light chocolate flavour, with a surprisingly pleasant potato undertone on the front of the tongue! Cinnamon was also detected at the back of the tongue, and added to the interesting (but successful) mixture of flavours.

Lining the mug was a sweet purple sugar that added to each sip, and that I shamelessly licked off entirely at the end of the drink. A toasted yam marshmallow was served with the beverage – I indulged in the inner yam filling while my company enjoyed the toasted marshmallow. 

This savoury hot chocolate set-up won my heart, for sure!

HoCho #20: This is Nuts, Thomas Haas (~ $6.50)

My second stop to Thomas Haas for this festival was done with urging from a friend: “The other hot chocolate from Thomas Haas? Would kill for.” I obviously had to give it a shot.

MS and I made our way back to Thomas Haas for the second time to battle the line-ups and grab a table inside before anyone could tell us otherwise. We requested “This Is Nuts” with almond milk, and awaited the calling of our names.
“This Is Nuts” is a milkier chocolate blended with almond butter and hazelnut (if you don’t already know, Nutella is a chocolate and hazelnut blend… so use your imagination there), so while I did not drink very much of it, the flavours were ah-mazing! It was smooth with a nutty tone throughout the entire drink, which gave it a “rougher” taste – does that make any sense….?

Alongside the drink, we received a “financier sandwich” that had “hasselnut” cream in it and little textured candies on top – it was soft and the little candies added a *crunch* that satisfied the tastebuds.

HoChos 13, 14, 15, and 16

I think that my eyes have become a deeper, more rich and decadent brown colour since mid-January.

Look into my eyes and its easy to see – one and one makes chocolate, and two and one makes chocolate, it was destinyyyy. (Tenacious D remix)

HoCho #13: Ed’s Favourite, Shokolade Artisan Chocolate ($5.25)

The trek out to East Vancouver is worth it for a second year of the festival! With four amigos in tow, I visited Shokolade Artisan Chocolate for my 14th cocoa. This year, the location offered four flavours, presumably named after employees that chose them as their favourites! Ed, Jane, Alex, and Judy’s “favourites” were available, and all but poor Alex were sampled by our crew.

I personally indulged in an almond-milk “Ed’s Favourite” which was a blend of 70% cocoa and raspberry puree. Upon first sip, the raspberry made its debut, introducing a tanginess that rose above the darkness and richness of the thick chocolatey milk.

On this particular trip, something happened that had not occurred this year during the festival: I became saturated with chocolate. An off day meant that I could not complete the entire drink – not because of any flavour complaints, but simply because I was full and the chocolate was rich enough that I did not guzzle it right up (as is often the norm…).

Jane’s Favourite: White chocolate with
coconut cream blended in.
Alongside the drink was a raspberry praline, which was superb! A dark chocolate shell with light raspberry cream in the middle (in the shape of a heart!) was a sweet little treat to go with the drink. 
I recommend this stop if you want variety, are with a few friends, or (specific to my drink) you like dark chocolate.

HoCho #14: The Dominican, Thierry ($10.24)

Thierry is nestled downtown and is the sort of establishment that lets you know what you will be walking into once you cross its threshold – clean, minimalistic, wooden, modern, and brown (like its chocolate!).

JS and I enjoyed this simple hot chocolate drink with a fancy chocolate treat on the side, called a “Tonka Bean cream Choux” (something I let the chocolate folks behind the counter pronounce on my behalf when ordering).

Truthfully, I do not have a huge review for the drink itself, as it was a fairly simplistic beverage. However, it was not overly sweet, and was light to drink. The serving size was ideal, and the milk foamed to perfection; I also enjoyed how the drink was served, particularly the glass it was served in (does anyone know where I can get one of these?!).

I think my favourite part of this was the cream Choux on the side – it was a perfect little morsel to chew on while telling stories and watching the rain fall with a warm drink at hand.

HoCho #15: Triple Ginger-Spiced Hot Chocolate, Last Crumb Bakery & Cafe (~$7.09)

Heading down to Main Street is always an enjoyable experience, and stopping by the Last Crumb Bakery & Cafe makes it way better.
Of the two options for this year’s festival, my company and I decided upon the triple-ginger spiced hot chocolate with soy milk. The ginger was strong throughout the drink, but did not overwhelm the taste buds, as it was blended smoothly with the chocolate and, I believe, absorbed into the creamy soy milk in a most-pleasant way.
Accompanying the chocolate concoction was an apricot “sconescotti.” Somewhere between a scone and biscotti, this little treat had chunks of apricot throughout and a chewy texture that made you savour it and take time to go “mmmmm.”

HoCho #16: Earl Grey Hot Chocolate, French Made Baking ($4.25)

As I made my way to French Made Baking on this day’s festival adventure, I was anticipating trying their “Only Thyme Will Tell” beverage: a hot chocolate infused with thyme and orange, served with a macaron. Unfortunately, due to the time required to infuse the thyme, the drink mixture is prepared in advance and is made with dairy milk – so I was unable to try the beverage that had me salivating before I even arrived at their doorstep!

To my pleasure, another drink was made for me (that appears to have been removed from their festival menu) that involved infusing early grey tea into a dark hot chocolate, which was made with soy milk especially for me! The tea made the drink light, as the standard earl grey flavours (a little bit of black tea magic, some flowery overtones…) lifted the weight off of the tongue while drinking it.

Why haven’t I been mixing tea and chocolate all the time?

HoChos 9, 10, 11, and 12

Whooooooooa… We’re half-way there…
WhoooooOOOAA! Chocolate everywheere… 

February 1st! I do not know where the month of January went, but I recall glimpses of events and timetables and a lot of chocolate towards the end. As a student, I find this point in the Hot Chocolate Festival challenging: Professors are beginning to remind their classes about upcoming assignments while doling out assessments, and the hot cocoa locations are farther away as I cross more and more off of my list.

Who doesn’t like a bit of a challenge, though?

HoCho #9: Red Cadillac, Koko Monk Chocolates (~$6.50)

Located just before Burrard Street on 1st Ave, Koko Monk Chocolates prides themselves on flavours that come from the foods themselves – no artificial flavours or preservatives to make their chocolate confections, beverages, cookies, and macarons taste as delicious as they do. Last year, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed a curry hot chocolate from them.

This year, however, I enjoyed a salted almond hot chocolate with peppercorn, made with almond milk – and this time, the almond milk was included in the drink! I did not have to specify my non-dairy preference – I do appreciate intentionally vegan items in the festival.

The Red Cadillac was a rich, dark chocolate that sat heavily on the tongue. When stirring the drink, the hot chocolate dripped with a thick viscosity off of the spoon. Aligning with the values of Koko Monk, the salted-almond flavour came not only from the almond milk, but from crushed almonds added to the chocolate blend; they added a gritty texture that appeared every few sips.

If you like dark, less-sweet hot chocolate (with a little bit of peppercorn for *pop* at the end), you would probably enjoy this drink!

HoCho #10: Put da Lime in da Coconut, Chocolate Arts (~$6.00)

Tucked away in a less-visited industrial neighbourhood near Granville Island, Chocolate Arts is a minimalistic, clean, and modern-looking chocolate confectionery and cafe. The simple white tables with simple red chairs were familiar from last year, and the friendly service behind the counter offered a warm welcome.

Of the three unique options offered by Chocolate Arts this year, MM and I both vouched for Put da Lime in da Coconut – a dark chocolate to be poured over coconut ice cream with coconut macaroons served on the side.
My cocoa was made with soy milk, and I quite enjoyed how filling it was – I find that cocoa is most filling when the ingredients are more genuine and less artificial. This chocolate was highlighted by lime notes that offered an interesting flavour combination that was made particularly delicious when combined with the coconut ice cream!
Furthermore, who could pour chocolate over ice cream and not love to consume it? This festival flavour is great if you dig the taste of coconut and are looking to fill your belly!

HoCho #11: Pep Me Up, Thomas Haas (~$6.50)

Ah, Thomas Haas – if you follow them on Instagram, you know that they don’t just pride themselves on incredible confections, pastries, macarons, and hot chocolate – they also love the outdoors, biking, and the city they reside in!

This stop has been a favourite of mine in past festivals, and I was not to be disappointed this year. Of the two available cocoas, MS and I indulged in the Pep Me Up – a 70% cocoa drink with peppermint and some chartreuse:

French liqueur made by the Carthusian Monks since 1737 according to the instructions set out in the secret manuscript given to them by François Annibal d’Estrées in 1605. It is composed of distilled alcohol aged with 130 herbs, plants and flowers. The liqueur is named after the Monks’ Grande Chartreuse monastery, located in the Chartreuse Mountains in the general region of Grenoble in France. (Wikipedia article here.)

I enjoyed this drink made with almond milk, as I find the almond milk made the dark chocolate a little lighter on the palette, and it allowed the peppermint notes to become more prominent.

While the struggle is often all-too real to find a seat in this place, I highly recommend it if you appreciate artful chocolate drinks and you want a little something sweet on the side.

HoCho #12: Chartreuse Milkshake, Uva Wine Bar & Bittered Sling ($14.95)

It’s Friday night, and it’s 10:00PM – it’s too late to get a Hot Chocolate Festival drink! 

What? You mean there’s a location opened until 2:00 in the morning from which I may acquire a festival beverage? … And there are two alcoholic options?

Uva Wine Bar offers three festival options this year, one of which follows a more “hot chocolate” template, and two that are “hot chocolate inspired” cocktails. My company and I, late on Friday, went for the second of two cocktail options – the Chartreuse Milkshake.

This drink did not actually contain any dairy of which to speak, but it was shaken (not stirred), and had cacao bitters sprinkled atop its foamy surface. The flavours showcased in this drink were orange juice and lime juice with a hint of gin, making a sweet and tangy drink that was very easy to sip.

Italian doughnuts accompanied the beverage – two large, served-hot, cinnamon-sugar coated doughnuts with some sweet substance drizzled across them and their serving plate. They hit the spot after a long shift that left my blood sugar low!

Do you like orange juice? Does a sweet-sour combo sound appealing? Is alcohol something you’re into today? Try this stop on Seymour Street.

See you after a few more hot chocolates!