Echo staffer reviews hot chocolates

Loco for Park cocoa

Maren Wilsey

No drink more perfect for a cold Minnesota winter than a hot chocolate. It’s a classic that those of all ages can enjoy, and it’s served almost anywhere you can get a hot drink. This winter I embarked on a search around Park for the perfect cup of cocoa. I was looking for a good chocolate flavor that wasn’t overly sweet but wasn’t too bitter. I was also looking for a good whipped cream or foam that complemented the chocolate without overpowering it — and, of course, I wanted a nice setting to enjoy my hot chocolate in.

Abby Keller

The Depot Coffee House: ★★★★★


The Depot is a student-run coffee shop in Hopkins, and right off the bat it was my favorite setting. The building is a renovated train depot full of locally-made art and lots of natural light. I was thrilled to have a hot chocolate that matched the stellar location. It came out with a thick layer of foam. My one complaint was that there was so much that the first few sips were almost all foam and no real hot chocolate. Once I got to the cocoa, I was greeted by a rich chocolate flavor that was perfectly sweet — just enough to not overwhelm. The flavor was almost like a chocolate fudge, something that made it stand out from the rest I tried. All in all, The Depot served up an essentially perfect hot chocolate.


Abby Keller

Rustica Bakery: ★★★★☆


Rustica served a relatively subtle hot chocolate. The flavor was less strong than others on this list, but I found I enjoyed it a lot. It had a light foam that contributed to the overall lightness of the drink. As a bakery, there are many pastries to enjoy alongside the drink at Rustica. I had mine with a croissant and appreciated the way the drink complemented the pastry. It was served in a large mug which made it feel more like a cozy drink at home. Rustica is notorious for how crowded it gets, which can be a big deduction for the location, but if you go earlier like I did, it is calm and welcoming. 

Abby Keller

Munkabeans: ★★★☆☆


The first thing I noticed about the Munkabeans hot chocolate was the latte art at the top, which read MB for Munkabeans. Definitely my favorite presentation of the ones I tried, the foam was thin enough to not overwhelm the hot chocolate. The drink lacked a strong chocolate flavor and was a bit milky. It wasn’t bad, just a little bland, especially compared to the rest. I loved the venue, which is located on Main Street in Hopkins. I grew up in Duluth, and the interior gave me a sense of nostalgia for small coffee shops in that area. There was a lot of  Minnesota wildlife and nature photography decorating the walls, and much of the furniture gave off a vintage vibe. The staff was very friendly and the ambiance was definitely one of my favorites. 

Abby Keller

Caribou Coffee: ★★☆☆☆


The Minnesota staple fell flat on their cocoa delivery. While a more enjoyable environment than its fellow corporate chain, Starbucks, it wasn’t enough to distract from the poor-quality drink. One thing it did have over its competition, was it offered a choice between dark and milk chocolate, of which I chose milk. The Caribou cocoa was topped with whipped cream and chocolate chips, which overwhelmed the taste buds for the first several sips. I couldn’t taste any hot chocolate through it at all. Once you get there though, you’re assaulted by an overly sweet chocolate flavor that leaves a bad aftertaste in your mouth. 

Abby Keller

Starbucks: ★☆☆☆☆


Coffee giant Starbucks is famous worldwide — in spite of their pitiful hot chocolate. Served with whipped cream and a chocolate syrup drizzle, once again, the whipped cream masked any cocoa in the first several sips. The presentation was lackluster, with no style or care put into it. The cocoa itself was the darkest chocolate flavor of the day. In fact, it even had a pretty bitter taste, which is unusual for milk chocolate. The result was pretty unappealing. Aside from the unpleasant taste and presentation of the drink, the ambiance left a lot to be desired. Unsurprisingly, it had a very corporate vibe and was very crowded, even at an early hour. Overall, Starbucks didn’t really have anything going for it at all.