I have something to confess. I’m an avid hot chocolate fan. I go through hot chocolate phases that I’m not entirely proud of, but when I can use my love as an excuse for research, it makes my hot chocolate excursions that much sweeter. So when my friend from back home came to visit me to stay in London for a bit, we went on a scavenger hunt for the best hot chocolate in the UK. We created our own measuring scale to rate for the best hot chocolate, including measures of viscosity, chocolaty richness, temperature, toppings etc. Unfortunately, she has our official scores, but I can give you the low down on my most notable hot chocolate experiences. (In case this is a concern to anyone, most, if not all, of these places have dairy-free options.)
Chin Chin Labs
Chin Chin Labs is located in a tiny location in Camden Market, usually leading to a line out the door. I first saw their hot chocolate in a youtube video and I’m not gonna lie, it was love at first sight. I became obsessed with it and have since brought many-a-friends to this place when visiting London. This is not your typical hot chocolate, this is a dessert for the serious sweet-tooths of the world and dedicated chocolate lovers. It’s not so much of a hot chocolate as it is drinking chocolate. They have a creamy milk chocolate and a more bitter dark chocolate version that I prefer. This decadent dessert drink is topped with a massive toasted dollop of marshmallow fluff. They have to serve the cup in a bowl because it gets that messy. Interestingly enough, they’re more known for their unique nitrogen ice cream flavors and toppings. Would highly recommend.
THIS HOT CHOCOLATE MAN. Chin Chin Labs was my favorite hot chocolate joint until my friend came to visit and we saw a video of this place. One of the best hot chocolates, or rather drinking chocolates, I’ve ever had, no question. It’s rich. It’s chocolaty. It’s everything you want in a hot chocolate. It’s made from chocolate shavings they shave in front of you. It’s perfect. Their regular hot chocolate is a combination of white, milk, and dark chocolate shavings with steamed milk that you mix yourself, though you can choose to get one flavor, like dark chocolate in my case. There are two locations in Shoreditch, both on Brick Lane and are filled with elaborate wood branched tables and shelving holding elegant chocolates. Would definitely recommend.
Located in Guildford up Tunsgate street, K.alm kitchen is the most adorable cafe Guildford has to offer with handmade baked goods and an adorably cozy atmosphere. They offer multiple types of hot chocolate, like salted caramel, peppermint, hazelnut, gingerbread and more. The hot chocolate here is no Dark Sugars, but it’s pretty darn tasty and a charming local place to hang out with friends or bring a book. Would absolutely recommend, but more as a cute cafe than just for the hot chocolate.
Though Cafe Nero is seemingly everywhere in the UK (with several locations in Guildford, I might add), they have a deliciously rich hot chocolate that can satisfy your chocolate craving without being too over the top. Plus it’s an easy place to chill and catch up on some school related reading. Would recommend.
Since I’m providing a short list of some of the best hot chocolates you can come by in the UK, I’m gonna have to leave you with hot chocolate to avoid. Like Cafe Nero, Costa coffee is everywhere in Guildford and the UK, but it’s not the place you want to get a hot chocolate. It’s usually way too hot when you first get it, and it’s basically like drinking hot milk with a hint of smokiness, not even a flavor I would consider as chocolaty. I don’t think they even use chocolate in their hot chocolates. Not worth a try if you’re a true chocolate fanatic, but if you like steamed milk, it’s a great choice! Would not recommend for hot chocolate, but might recommend for something else?