Crazy for Cocoa

Hot cocoa is a quintessential cold-weather beverage and a good alternative to coffee and tea. I always make sure to have a box of Swiss Miss in my pantry in case of emergency. However, most (if not all) coffee shops also offer hot chocolate, and many of them provide their own take on the popular drink. Below are a number of local options if you’re looking to step out of your hot cocoa box.

Northside Social

Northside Social is unique in that it serves a tahini hot chocolate. What is tahini, you ask? It’s a creamy, oily ground sesame seed paste (similar to peanut butter) often used in Middle Eastern cuisine. This is the ideal drink for someone eager to try new things!

The Royal

I was first drawn to this hot chocolate after seeing multiple posts on Instagram. The Royal adds jalapeño to their cocoa for a bit of a kick, and it is all topped off with brûléed marshmallows, making it almost too beautiful to drink (keyword: almost).

A Baked Joint

A Baked Joint is known for their breads and breakfast spreads, but don’t underestimate what they can do with their drinks! They serve their hot cocoa in a tall glass and top it with homemade marshmallows (which are soooo much better than store-bought).

Little Red Fox

We love Harper Macaw, and Little Red Fox uses their product when making their mochas and hot chocolate. The chocolate flavor is more subtle and a tad bittersweet, so you know it’s authenticity that you’re getting and not some syrupy concoction.



Artifact Coffee in Baltimore offers several variations to your typical hot cocoa, one being s’mores and another that incorporates Malbec (talk about getting chocolate wasted!). I don’t know how you could choose between the two, but I do know I need to make it out to Charm City soon!

Stomping Ground

Stomping Ground in Alexandria serves up a Mexican hot chocolate that looks to die for. It is composed of Valrhona cocoa powder, cayenne, orange zest, and chilis and is certain to zap you back to life after being out in the cold!


Ok, so Italian sipping chocolate isn’t cocoa how we typically perceive it, but it is literally hot chocolate. Pitango offers this intense, thick, divine alternative in the cooler months. Add a shot of espresso, and you’ll be in heaven! Add some steamed milk, and you’ll have what they call an American-style hot chocolate!

Open City

Who doesn’t love sprinkles? And I’m kind of obsessed with lavender which you don’t see much of in the winter. So the lavender hot chocolate at Open City is perfect for me! You also get a couple animal crackers on the side which round off the presentation.


Have you tried any of these unique takes on hot chocolate? What’s your favorite place to grab a cup of cocoa?

Keep caffeinated,



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