It's not easy to find great hot chocolate, especially since it can end up tasting like scalding milk with only a vague hint of cacao, or worse: hot chocolate with lukewarm water. But if you know where to go, Portland has some inventive and delightful offerings. Here are some of the best places to get your hot chocolate fix this winter, many of which offer several different kinds of hot chocolate and drinking chocolate:
122 NE Broadway St, 530-477-8927, creochocolate.com
Not surprisingly, the best Portland hot chocolates come from places that make their own chocolate. Case in point: Creo, a chocolate factory that makes its chocolate from Heirloom cacao beans grown in Ecuador. Their hot chocolate is made from 73% dark chocolate and has a deliciously bitter edge that puts blander hot chocolates to shame.
Cup and Bar
118 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, 503-388-7701, cupandbar.com
Cup and Bar's hot chocolate is ostentatious in a good way—it's made from Ranger Chocolate, filled with chunks of chocolate and served with a tiny chocolate bar on the side. Made from a dark chocolate blend with a touch of espresso, its presentation may not be subtle, but the excess is irresistible.
712 SW Salmon St, 503-274-9510, cacaodrinkchocolate.com
Cacao's standard hot chocolate is terrific, but it's outshone by the tiny chocolate shop's cinnamon-infused drinking chocolate, a creamy concoction made from a blend of solid Felchlin dark and milk chocolate. It's so rich that it satisfies even when you drink it out of a tiny shot glass.
1323 SE 7th Ave, 971-279-4133, 140 NE 28th Ave, 503-517-0262, almachocolate.com
Alma doesn't mess around with the flavor-dulling menace that is whipped cream—they offer a simple and lovely concoction made from 68% Bolivian dark chocolate. While it's served in a humble cardboard cup, its woodsy flavor merits a flattering comparison to Creo.
Moonstruck Chocolate Café
608 SW Alder St, 503-241-0955, moonstruckchocolate.com
Don't overlook Moonstruck: It serves a hot chocolate made from the company's Mayan Dutch-process cocoa powder, which has an intense cinnamon flavor and is also imbued with hints of almond and vanilla. It's hot chocolate seasoned like hot apple cider, and it's delightfully bizarre.
Jim and Patty's
2246 NW Lovejoy St, 503-477-8363, 4951 NE Fremont St, 503-284-2121, jimandpattys.com
Possibly the foamiest hot chocolate in Portland, with a top layer of deliciously frothy milk that descends deep into the cup. Just make sure to give it a stir, since the cocoa mixture that gives the hot chocolate its flavor—a combination of water and Baker's Chocolate sweetened with sugar—sometimes settles at the bottom.
West End KURE Kitchen
408 SW 12th Ave, 855-777-5873 ext. 4, kurejuicebar.com
KURE's vegan hot chocolate doesn't contain any actual chocolate—it's an amalgamation that includes maple syrup, maca, mesquite and almond milk. The result is odd but tasty, with a richer texture than most traditional hot chocolates. It's also ultra-spicy, thanks to a dusting of cayenne on top.