Socola Chocolatier and Barista
Best known for its artisanal chocolate truffles, the award-winning Socola Chocolatier in San Francisco also knows how to whip up an amazing cuppa cocoa. (Plus, the café is decorated with tiny stuffed llamas, and it doesn’t get much more adorable than that.) The one served at this SoMa District shop is comprised of 72-percent dark chocolate ganache and steamed milk and is adorned with a house-made chocolate marshmallow. It’s warm, delicate, and decadent—and not laden with sugar—and becomes wonderfully creamy as the marshmallow melts.
Aside from this delectable libation, you also have numerous Asian-inspired chocolates to choose from; enjoy one with your hot cocoa or take a box to go. And if you really need an afternoon pick-me-up, go for the Soco latte, which combines the hot chocolate with a shot of espresso.
If you’d rather have your San Francisco hot chocolate at home, opt for the Chocolate Barista Kit—complete with liquid truffles and chocolate marshmallows—and have it shipped directly to your door.
Craftsman & Wolves
In addition to offering creative croissants, Instagram-worthy desserts, and beautiful loaves of bread, this contemporary patisserie in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood provides stellar hot cocoa, too. Crafted from French Valrhona chocolate, the satisfying beverage is so thick and intense that it’s been dubbed “sipping chocolate”—and you’ll definitely want to savor it slowly. Craftsman & Wolves serves each magical cup on a hefty wooden block with a pillowy, house-made seasonal marshmallow that’s perfect for dunking into the divine drink.
Incredible Hot Chocolate in the San Francisco Bay Area
Casa de Chocolates
Located on Berkeley’s bustling Ashby Avenue, this festive shop specializes in artisanal chocolates but is also famous for its steaming cups of Mexican hot cocoa. And for those feeling adventurous, there’s a spiced-up version of the familiar favorite: In addition to the traditional ingredients—such as Mexican cocoa nibs, milk, and canela (cinnamon)—the piquant version at Casa de Chocolates is spiked with chile de árbol.
The drink begins on a sweet note, offering the usual flavors of chocolate with cinnamon and sugar-infused milk. But soon after you savor your first sip, the strong bite of chile hits your palate, adding a pleasantly zesty kick that’s bound to warm you up in no time. Looking to cool down instead? Order the frozen hot chocolate to go and enjoy your favorite flavors with a twist as you soak in the California sunshine.
Leonidas Love + Chocolate Shop
It’s easy to walk by this cozy storefront in Walnut Creek, but it would be a shame if you did. Not only would you miss the chance to pick up a box of artisanal Belgian chocolates and seasonal delights, but also the opportunity to try the best hot cocoa in the East Bay. The concoction is made from the shop’s own chocolate, which is handcrafted in Brussels using only the purest ingredients—you won’t find any artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners here. The result is a rich, velvety hot chocolate that should be savored slowly.
The best part? Every cup of cocoa at Leonidas Love + Chocolate is accompanied by a Biscoff biscuit (which is also from Europe) and a small piece of chocolate. The sustainably made, Fair Trade treats are dotted with such delicacies as hazelnuts from Turkey, Morello cherries from France, and almonds from Italy. No matter which chocolate you get, you won’t be disappointed, especially if you enjoy your assortment of delicacies at one of the outdoor tables and soak in the charming downtown Walnut Creek scene.
To recreate the experience at home, order the European Hot Chocolate Kit—which comes with four Biscoff cookies and instructions for making your hot cocoa—along with a box of assorted chocolates. Enjoy these treats on your patio for the full ambience, and you’ll wonder how you ever got by without them.
If you’re looking for another excuse to turn up your cocoa intake today, here’s where to find the best chocolate in San Francisco.