6 Local Calgary Coffee Shops Try During YYC's Annual Hot Chocolate Festival 2020

by Cameron Eng on February 07, 2020

YYC Hot Chocolate Fest

Calling all hot chocolate lovers!!! February is an exciting time of the year for hot chocolate connoisseurs in Calgary. For the entire month starting February 1st to February 29th, Calgary is having its 9th annual YYC Hot Chocolate Festival. The purpose of this festival is for local cafes and coffee shops to have a friendly competition where the community can try and vote for the city’s best spirited and non-spirited hot chocolates. $1 from each non-spirited and $2 for each spirited hot chocolates gets donated to Meals on Wheels, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing nutritious meals to any Calgarian in need. There will also be an award, Cup That Runneth Over determined by the amount of cups sold and amount donated.

So if you're wondering what to do in Calgary - whether you are looking for some family fun including your kids, fun date ideas, or just a little taste of Calgary, this guide will help you satisfy your sweet tooth.

 

There’s An App For That

It’s not very well advertised but there’s a handy app dedicated to the YYC Hot Chocolate Festival 2020. Smartphone users can download the app for either Apple or Android. With just a couple taps, you have instant access to information on hot chocolates available in YYC for the festival. You’ll likely even find a new cafe or coffee shop you’ve never visited before!

Within the app, you’ll find a list of all vendors participating in the contest along with a photo and description of the hot chocolate they have entered. From here you can even vote for your favorite drink right in the app itself, or you can vote online. There is also a map to show all participating locations (not all cafe/restaurant locations are participating - even if there are multiple locations throughout the city) so you can see what’s closest to you and get directions. One thing we found that would have been much more helpful is the hours of operation for all of the cafes and restaurants. Many smaller shops close late afternoon or early evening, and it would have been great to have that information more easily available rather than having to reference back to Google. It would also be great if the app had a search feature to search for either the name of the hot chocolate or the name of the cafe. There is a filter function, but it is only limited to filtering between spirited and non-spirited drinks.

 

We Tried 6 Amazing Hot Chocolates

With so many vendors to choose from, it can become a difficult task to pick which places to go to in order to sip and satisfy your sweet tooth. We wanted to go out and try some of these delicious drinks to review to give you a bit of an idea of what Calgary’s finest has to offer. With guest blogger, Chloe Chapdelaine (@chloe.chapdelaine on Instagram), we grabbed some of our mugs and set out to discover some tasty Calgarian hot chocolates!

 

Bring Your Own Cup

A great way to reduce waste and save money is to bring your own reusable cup or mug. Almost any coffee shop or cafe will allow you to bring in your own cup to use and can make your hot chocolate (or coffee/tea) in. Some of them even offer a small discount for playing your part in reducing use of paper cups. Naturally, we chose to bring our favorite Hudson mugs and Peyto tumblers while trying coffee shop hopping to reduce waste and keep our drinks hot.

 

Waves Coffee House 

Waves Coffee House has 5 locations participating in the festival making it one of the easiest places for you to get your hands on a (cherry) bomb dark hot chocolate. We found this to be a very sweet drink, rich with a subtle taste of cherry. The temperature of the drink itself was not overly hot. In fact, it was very drinkable right away and the added sweet and spice from the cherry and cayenne pepper syrup made it an interesting sipping experience. The heat from the spice is generally quite mild, leaving a slightly warm tingle in your throat after drinking. Overall, we thought this was a nice, unique hot chocolate without going over the top in any way. They also offer a vegan friendly option with the choice of almond, oat, soy or coconut milk.

Locations:

8 Street SW
731 8 St SW
Calgary, AB T2P 2A8
Hours:
Monday - Thursday 7am - 8pm
Friday  6:30am - 6pm

Saturday 8am - 4pm
Sunday Closed

36 Street NE
2685 36 St NE
Calgary, AB T1Y 5S3
Hours:
Monday - Friday 7am - 7pm
Saturday 9am - 6pm

Sunday Closed

10 Ave SE
140 10 Ave SE Suite 110
Calgary, AB T2G 2R1
Hours:
Monday - Friday 7am - 6pm
Saturday - Sunday Closed

Springborough Blvd SW
30 Springborough Blvd SW #160
Calgary, AB T3H 0N9
Hours:
Monday - Friday 6am - 10pm
Saturday - Sunday 7am - 10pm

17 Ave SW
102-1019 17 Ave SW
Calgary, AB T2T 0A7
Hours:
Open 7am - 12am Weekly

 

Good Earth Coffeehouse (Foothills Hospital)

With 3 total locations throughout the city participating in the event, Good Earth Coffeehouse is another great option for anyone anywhere in Calgary. It differs from other coffee shops with multiple participating locations since each Good Earth location offers a different drink option for the festival. For us, the Foothills Hospital location was the closest at the time so off we went to try their caramel mocha hot chocolate (we’ll list the other two locations and its respective drink offering below). 

On first sip, we immediately discovered the richness of the chocolate. To compare it to the Cherry Bomb from Waves, we found this to be less sweet, but much richer and thicker. The temperature was slightly hotter, but still easily drinkable right away. We’d rate the temperature 7/10 with 10 being absolutely piping hot. The flavor is fantastic - it has a darker chocolate flavor and found the caramel to be quite mild, but the coffee adds to it. Generally, we’d say this is a fairly simple drink. It would likely be something you could order regularly rather than being a special drink option. Due to its simplicity, it’s definitely a safe drink choice if you aren’t feeling terribly adventurous.

Locations:
Foothills Hospital (Caramel Mocha “Caramel, Chocolate...and Coffee. What more could you want in a hot chocolate? Topped with caramel drizzle.”)
1403 29 St NW
Calgary, AB T2N 4W4
Hours:
24/7

Sheldon Chumir (Tumeric Hot Chocolate “Good Earth’s famous hot chocolate with a tasty twist and health benefits! Topped with steamed milk.”)
1213 4 St SW
Calgary, AB T2R 0X7
Hours:
Monday - Friday 6:30am - 7pm
Saturday - Sunday 8am - 5pm

South Health Campus (Orange Hot Chocolate “This Good Earth hot chocolate delicacy combines orange and dark chocolate... topped with whipped cream, shaved dark chocolate and orange zest.”)
4448 Front St SE
Calgary, AB T3M 1M4
Hours:
6:30am - 10pm Weekly


Black Sheep

Holy Smokes! This was quite a unique experience for a hot chocolate. We’d definitely say this is the most unique hot chocolate we tried and for good reason. It’s got a smokey BBQ flavor which we found to be true to its description. The whipped cream was made fresh and was topped with bacon bits and as an option (if you like hot) you can ask for a candied jalapeno slice on top as well. We tried it with and without.

The hot chocolate experience was quite rich, smooth and an interesting sweet, yet salty flavor from the mixture of chocolate, BBQ and bacon. The temperature was warm - drinkable but far from piping hot. We also decided to try the candied jalapeno to get the full experience of this drink, and whoowee. Semi-sweet at first, but quite the hot kick. If you’re into spicy, definitely request this from the barista to complete the concoction. 

Location:
140-815 17 Ave SW
Calgary, AB T2T 0A1
Hours:
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday - 7am - 6:30pm
Tuesday - Closed

Friday - 7am - 7:30pm
Saturday - 9am - 7:30pm
Sunday - 9am - 5:30pm

 

The Block

The Coconut Ripple Bliss from The Block Kitchen and Lounge was a delightful drink to enjoy. It was a very light hot chocolate, made with steamed coconut milk, butterscotch chocolate chips, toasted coconut flakes, torched/toasted marshmallows and drizzle with chocolate syrup. It came in as one of the hotter drinks we tried and would be enjoyed quite well on a cold winter day. Since it was so light, the best way to enjoy this one was to stir up all the contents to get a little more flavor from the chocolate chips and chocolate syrup drizzle. We wouldn’t recommend this to anyone who isn’t a fan of certain textures in their food/drink as the toasted coconut flakes do add quite a bit of that coconut texture. All in all, this was very enjoyable and we’d suggest trying this one out if you like coconut or if you aren’t looking for an extremely thick and rich hot chocolate.

Location:
2411 4 St NW
Calgary, AB T2M 2Z8
Hours:
Monday - Thursday 9:30am - 11pm
Friday - Saturday 8:30am - 12am

Sunday 8:30am - 10pm

 

Hexagon Cafe

I’m sure many of us grew up eating PB+J (peanut butter & jam) sandwiches for school lunches or on family picnics in the park. Hexagon Board Game Cafe came in clutch with their PB+J hot chocolate for this year’s festival. For this one, we requested it without pretzels and graham cracker rim to make it gluten free. Experiencing this drink was a delight and a kick back in time, immediately giving us the nostalgic taste and feeling of being a child. It was the perfect balance of sweet and salty with the peanut butter without being too thick or rich to drink. We’d definitely say this hot chocolate fits perfectly with the environment of the cafe where you can play board games, drink a PB+J hot chocolate and feel like a kid again! It's one to be enjoyed by both adults and kids. Being a board game cafe, it also makes a great date idea.

Location:
1140 Kensington Rd NW #200
Calgary, AB T2N 3P3
Hours:
Monday - Thursday 8am - 11pm
Friday 8am - 1am

Saturday 9am - 1am
Sunday 9am - 11pm

 

Lina’s Italian Market

At first we were only going to try 5 locations for the YYC Hot Chocolate Fest. However, it was extremely difficult not to want to try another! We used the app to locate another spot close to us to indulge in another sweet beverage. In doing so, we came across Lina’s Italian Market for their Sapori di Sicilia. This is an incredible hot chocolate and we’re glad we stopped by. It features a thick, smooth 70% Madagascar dark chocolate (which takes them 45 minutes to melt down and make), and topped with a thick homemade whipped cream and bits of Bronte Pistachio. Lina’s did an incredible job crafting this hot chocolate that would appeal to a wide variety of people. Without a doubt way better than a standard hot chocolate, didn’t go over the top with anything, and wasn’t trying to be anything its not. It’s just a great job of making a quality beverage simple as it should be.

Location:
2202 Centre St NE
Calgary, AB T2E 2T5
Hours:
Monday - Saturday 8am - 7pm
Sunday 8am - 6pm


Summary

We hardly managed to scratch the surface by only sampling a portion of the contestants' hot chocolates this year. So far, we have been impressed by what Calgary has to offer and it's even better that a portion of each cup sold is donated to a good cause. We hope this review/guide helps you chose a place to taste a unique hot chocolate this month, or inspire you to discover somewhere new! Take your family, kids, date or your best friends and let us know what you think of the hot chocolates you try! We'd love to hear your opinions. Be sure to check out Chloe's blog on her experience with us while trying these 6 hot chocolates!
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