Foodie Top 5: hot chocolates

Images: Charlotte Griffiths

Charlotte Griffiths selects the best hot chocolate for miles around

One of the fastest, cheapest and most delicious ways to beat the winter blues is with a simple mug of steaming hot chocolate – so we've sought out some of the best warming drinks that our city has to offer. 

1. Jack's Gelato 

If you’ve been wondering what Jack would turn his hand to during the winter months, here’s the extremely exciting answer: thick, grown-up, decadently dark hot chocolate with bags of flavour and a hint of sea salt.

As you’d expect from this iconic ice-cream purveyor, the ingredients are of first-rate quality and the resulting flavours are – as Jack himself says – “deep and complex”.

The perfect way to round off a wintery weekend stroll through town, or skip the dessert course of your chosen late-night eats and pop into the stylish Bene’t Street outlet. 

2. Indigo coffee house 

Fed up with the daily grind? Want to feel like you’re six years old again? Turn down the side streets off Peas Hill, seek out Indigo’s, and order one of their hot chocolates topped with squirty cream and marshmallows.

Grab the overflowing mug carefully, ascend the rickety stairs and tuck yourself away in their bijou coffee lounge, alongside students hurriedly tapping out essays and tired shoppers seeking respite from the town centre. One sip of the creamy, chocolatey, marshmallow-ooze-smothered goodness and you’ll be transported to better times. 

3. Hotel Chocolat 

Instagram fans, look no further. Much to the delight of local chocoholics, the newest incarnation of the chocolatier’s Cambridge outpost – inside the Grand Arcade – features a super-chic cafe where soul-warming, cream-topped mugs of exquisitely fine chocolate can be indulged in whenever required.

Their short, cacao-inspired menu features a variety of different Hot Chocolat (sic), but it’s the Salted Caramel Chocolat which receives rave reviews.

Topped with an almost-architectural swirl of malty, rich, cocoa-whipped cream, this drink should be eaten with a spoon – and is perfectly designed to be placed against the cafe’s beautiful interiors and ’grammed for posterity.

4. Savino's

Waiting for the Park & Ride is no laughing matter – so duck out of the queue and instead, dive into a cup of Savino’s legendary thick hot chocolate. The drink is whipped up in front of you from a traditional Italian blend of chocolate thickened with a little cornflour, and the resulting mugful is nothing short of soul-warmingly spectacular.

Perch on a stool under the watchful eyes of Sofia Loren, who adorns the wall of this tiny but much-loved eatery, and watch the world go by as you spoon down the thick, unctuous chocolate. It’s the drinkable equivalent of a chocolate pot dessert, and is quite possibly the ideal way to cap off a visit to our city – bus-powered or not.

5. The Coffee Stop  

A vast number of people who call our city home also happen to spend most of their days on trains, shuttling back and forth from workplaces elsewhere in the country. A daily schlep of this nature is no mean feat, and commuters deserve regular treats to keep their spirits high in the face of the dark winter months ahead.

Luckily for them (and us) there’s CJ, owner of The Coffee Stop, a proudly independent hot-drink-maker who’s tucked around the corner from the main station square, barely a few seconds off the beaten track.

Her hot chocolate is the stuff of legend amongst tired travellers, and with good reason: she uses Ghirardelli chocolate, from one of America’s oldest chocolatiers, as a base for The Coffee Stop’s comforting creations.

Choose between milk, white or even orange chocolate, then watch as CJ tops your drink with whatever delights are available that day: marshmallows, chocolate flakes, sprinkles – all designed to either help the prospect of a horrid day melt away, or as a stupendous start of a trip to the big smoke.