The snow emergencies may have ended, but it is still the season for hot chocolate. So after all the snowbound days this week, where are the hot chocolates worth leaving the house for? We checked St. Paul coffee shops Kopplin's and Espresso Royale for the answer.
Kopplin's Kopplin's has a whole mini-menu of hot chocolates ($3.25 - $5.50). We chose Kopplin's house dark hot chocolate, made by blending chopped dark chocolate (70% cocoa) with cocoa powder, then steaming it with milk from Castle Rock Organic Farms. The drink was smooth and intensely chocolaty, with a lingering finish. Milk chocolate lovers might detect just a hint of bitterness.
Espresso Royale We headed to 475 Fairview Avenue South, St. Paul, in search of Brewberry's recommended hot chocolate. But last spring Espresso Royale moved into the old Brewberry's spot. Undeterred, we gave Espresso Royale's hot chocolate a try ($1.80 - $2.80). Its hot chocolate was standard- a sweet reminder of the stuff we drank as children.
The winner: Kopplin's hot chocolate was the clear winner. The house dark hot chocolate was delicious, and that was only one of the six possible variations on cocoa intensity and flavoring. Admittedly, we staged a not-so-fair fight. Kopplin's is the sort of coffee shop where baristas carefully explain what goes into each drink and whose website details the downsides of decaf (they don't sell any). Espresso Royale's hot chocolate wasn't as careful a creation, although it's much more likely to trigger nostalgia, since most of us as children drank hot chocolate made from powdered mixes, not made from single-source chocolate bars.