Hot chocolate

I wonder how many hits this post is going to get because of adult-oriented Google searches?

Well, regardless, this is actually a post about the delicious steaming beverage.

I like hot chocolate.  Perhaps because I’m not much of a coffee drinker, I tend to drink hot chocolate at cafés and restaurants when others would probably be getting real coffee.

(Actually, most of the time I’m the guy who sits for hours in a café without spending a penny.  I’m kind of a jerk like that.  The trick, incidentally, is to grab a finished coffee off another  table and leave it on yours, so it appears that you’ve bought something and finished it.  Or, you could just not care what people think.  I usually do the latter.)

Anyway: hot chocolate.  When made correctly, it’s really delicious.  Good hot chocolate feels like you’re actually drinking a cup of melted, creamy chocolate.  It is possibly the most wonderful thing ever when you’ve just come inside on a cold or wet day.  If you’re drinking it beside a fireplace, you get bonus points.  Nothing can be wrong in the world if you’ve got a cup of tasty, steamy hot chocolate.  Amazing stuff, good hot chocolate.

Do you notice that every time I talk about how wonderful it is, I preface with words hot chocolate with an adjective, like good or tasty?  I do that because not all hot chocolate is wonderful.  Some is terrible.  A lot, actually, is terrible.  Interestingly, some of the most terrible hot chocolate comes from cafés, where people should really know how to make a decent hot drink.  I’m not exactly a hot chocolate connoisseur, so I don’t demand (or, probably, even properly appreciate) a perfect cup of hot chocolate, but I can certainly tell when it’s just tepid water with sugary brown stuff in it.

Linus: How do you like the chocolate I made for you?
Lucy: It’s terrible! It’s too weak! It tastes like some warm water that has had a brown crayon dipped in it!
Linus: (tastes it.) You’re right. I’ll go put in another crayon.

What’s funny is that there are plenty of decent store-bought Hot Chocolate mixes (I like the ones with the little marshmallows already in them), so why on earth can’t a café get it right?

I’m writing all of this because this morning I had tea at a friend’s place, and she made me a very, very nice hot chocolate, which tasted an awful lot like a cup of hot melted chocolate, and was all-around delicious.  She even had this little mini-whisk thingy to mix the chocolate with.  Very tasty.

Now, her hot chocolate was made with some expertly-chosen gourmet ingredients, and perhaps it’s not reasonable to expect every café to have imported chocolate lying around.  But, there’s no excuse for a quality gap quite this wide between what can be made at home and what a business based on delicious drinks should be able to produce.  And, now that I think about it, a café really could use nice imported chocolate — it’s safe to say that it gets pretty inexpensive when purchased in the quantities that a café would go through.  So, again, why can’t cafés pull this off?  It can’t be that hard.

If it wounds as though I’m feebly trying to justify rarely buying anything when I go to a café, then that’s partly true.  I certainly feel better about stiffing the establishment when I feel that they aren’t even trying to do a good job of the item I would like to order.  But, beyond that, it’s winterChristmas is coming.  It’s cold out.  Is a decent cup of hot chocolate really such an unreasonable thing to ask of a café?  I kinda don’t think so.

If I were the type of person to actually buy something when I go sit in a café all afternoon, this might really bother me.

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