I can't call myself much of a drink connoisseur, but I really do like hot chocolate, and something that I've definitely realized in this process is that different hot chocolates can taste very different. Often a person doesn't drink more than one type of hot chocolate in short succession, so the distinctions may be lost. Going to three different places in the course of two weeks, however, I very much noted the differences.
So, if you're a Hoya who loves hot cocoa like me - or just someone coincidentally interested in reading this - here goes my review:
- Starbucks has become the embodiment of the corporate cafe. When I went to the Starbucks inside the Georgetown Safeway (see this article about the grocery store) I had come on the day of an amazing deal - buy one get one free! The whipped cream was of medium weight and pretty tasty, and the drink was boldly chocolatey. It tasted as if the ensemble was made of fresh, brand-name ingredients, assembled according to sterile, time-tested processes. Indeed, one would have to say that's exactly what it was. Getting two for one was quite lucky, and it took me several hours until I had finished both.
Price: $3.74 for a large. Quality: Consistent.
Distance from GU: 5-min. shuttle or 15-min. walk to Safeway, but there's also one in the Leavey Center.
- Saxbys seems to be a pretty small cafe franchise, with locations scattered in various areas around the country like Nevada, Texas, Pennsylvania and DC. The location near Georgetown is very nice, with good music and atmosphere and a TV with Jeopardy! on (while I was there). The whipped cream on my cocoa was quite good, as the body of the drink was very distinct. I'd say the taste was very jazzy and enlivening, a less typical sort of chocolate than Starbucks, a drink combining the best of barista skill and creativity.
Price: $3.49 for a large. Quality: Tasty!
Distance from GU: 2 min. from the front gates, two blocks straight down O Street.
- Students of Georgetown, Inc. is "the world's largest completely student owned and operated business and 501(c)(3) non-profit organization." The Corp runs three coffee places, and for my hot chocolate I went to Midnight Mug, which is on the second floor of the library. Unfortunately, the cocoa was disappointing, although perhaps this wasn't the Corp's fault as much as the barista's or my own bad luck and timing. The foam was pitiable compared to the whipped cream of the other two places, and the cocoa was light and pleasant enough, but not as strong or as chocolatey as the others, which is what I would have preferred.
Price: $3.25 for a large. Quality: Chancy.
Distance from GU: None! Three locations on campus - library, Leavey Center, ICC.
So to sum up on the basics, the Corp was the cheapest, Starbucks the most expensive, and Saxbys was the best tasting overall. In terms of location and ambiance, all three are within easy reach and can be pretty good places to study, depending on your mood.
I think how you feel about your hot chocolate on any given day could very well determine which place you choose to go. As I said, different types of cocoa can taste very different, but that doesn't mean there's only one that's best. I also have a can of peanut butter hot chocolate mix in my apartment, and it is absolutely delicious! Maybe I'll talk about that another time, and until then, I will seek out further hot chocolate adventures.
(Now see my addendum, which reviews a fourth hot chocolate distributor on campus.)