Image description: Two mugs of hot chocolate overflowing with whipped cream and marshmallows. Yum!
Turl street has become relevant again. People are queuing around the corner of Broad Street for a taste of an alarmingly expensive cup of 38%-single-origin-milk-hot-chocolate-with-oat-milk-and-a-dash-of-sea-salt. I say this with false irony – it’s my go-to order.
With the end of term approaching and the opening of Knoops, I now venture dangerously close to my overdraft. With that in mind, I thought it was appropriate to discuss some of the best (and worst) hot chocolates I’ve tried in Oxford, so you can curb your cravings without breaking the bank – or alternatively, to splash out on something that’s worth it.
This is my favourite cafe in Oxford. If you haven’t been, it can be hard to describe, since it fundamentally repels aesthetic stereotypes. With a vintage-looking sign and beautiful sandwiches and pastries in the window, you expect a quaint, Nosebag-esque cafe. Walk inside, you see cartoony smoothie menus, vending machines and metal shelving units reminiscent of your local village corner shop. The chairs and tables may have been taken from a school canteen, but the staff are super friendly and everything tastes great. The daily lunchtime queues are not without reason.
My verdict on their hot chocolate? This cafe has been given the position of honour because their hot chocolates are genuinely delicious. With a 20% student discount and whipped cream and marshmallows as optional extras, I guarantee that Café Creme on Broad Street can definitely satisfy your hot chocolate cravings without breaking the bank. This definitely earns first place in my hot chocolate ranking, and despite its proximity to Knoops, I very passionately feel it should not be overshadowed.
This hot chocolate shop is undoubtedly special, and I can’t say I’m disappointed that it’s 200m from my accommodation, although my bank account might be. This may be the only place in Oxford where you can order a white hot chocolate with matcha, and it’s one of the few cafés I’ve discovered which offers hazelnut milk, ie, the secret ingredient to a perfect mocha.
I’ve certainly enjoyed learning about knoopology – winning combinations include 34% with sea salt, 43% with orange zest, 54% with mint, and I’m ashamed to say I’ve been too scared to venture any darker… at least for now. If you’re looking for a way to spice up your hot chocolate, (in the most literal sense, because you can add chilli flakes!) then this is the place for you. But it certainly comes at a price.
My advice: stick with the smaller size (these hot chocolates are rich), remember to ask for a student discount, or simply avoid the lengthy queue and stroll round the corner to Cafe Creme!
Another favourite source of hot drinks for me. The horse box kids hot chocolate is budget friendly, tasty, and conveniently placed for a pleasant walk around uni parks. With marshmallows included in the bargain price of £2.30, this hot chocolate is a definite favourite for me. Any essay crisis can be eased by a stroll around uni parks with a Horsebox hot chocolate in hand — I feel my dissertation related confusion melt away along with the marshmallows. Cheap. Bliss.
Black Sheep Coffee:
To round off this oddly cathartic rendition of Oxford’s hot-chocolate-highlights, I felt obliged to include one of my least favourites so that if you find yourself strongly disagreeing with me you know to ignore the opinions above!
I didn’t love the vibes walking into Black Sheep Coffee – to me, it lacked character. However, I was impressed by the menu, even made a plan with my friend to return for one of their breakfast smoothie bowls whilst we queued. Ordered my hot chocolate, hoped the hot chocolate would be able to wash down the bitter taste in my mouth at paying the grand price of £4.50. It did no such thing. It was watery and a little bit bitter (?!). Not what I was hoping for. Will not be returning.
I make no apologies for any hot chocolate cravings this article may have caused. But either way, happy drinking and good luck with your own journey in finding the best hot chocolate in Oxford that works for you!