Cuppa Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, California
Part cafe, bookstore, and community work space, Cuppa Tahoe is the perfect place to savor an afternoon with the latest Anthony Doerr novel and a frothy cup of hot choc. Owner Sandra Santané is originally from the Netherlands and insists on using real European chocolate—in this case, dairy-free Valrhona cocoa, produced in the French village of Tain L’Hermitage—for this sought-out beverage. Not only does European chocolate boast a higher cocoa content than its American counterpart, but it’s also made with creamier and richer European butter. With a drizzle of caramel and/or shot of peppermint syrup, you can really make the drink your own.
Taste, Provo, Utah
Whether it’s sampling chocolates from around the globe or sharing chocolate fondue with friends, at Taste, cocoa is front and center. This curated marketplace is hailed for its hot chocolate, whipped together in a lush combination of artisan chocolate, French cocoa powder, and whole milk. There’s also a selection of seasonal hot cocoa flavors, such as chai, candied orange, and pumpkin pie. Thick sipping chocolates, iced chocolate drinks, and cacao tea round out the drink menu.
Ranger Chocolate Co., Portland, Oregon
Shop for bags of dark chocolate cherries and chocolate brittle wafer bars in Ranger’s Central Eastside factory, then mosey on over to their cafe counter for one of the best hot cocoas in town. Although Ranger’s regular hot chocolate is a treat in itself, especially when flavored with a hint of honey lavender or rose, it’s the cafe’s Oregon hot chocolate—a mix of Ranger chocolate sauce paired with their in-house doug-fir and hazelnut syrups—that’s an absolute must.
*Editor’s note: In addition to cow’s milk, dairy alternatives such as oat, almond, soy, and coconut are available at most of the included establishments.