Illustrations by Caroline Gaspich.

Sometimes a scarf and boots aren’t enough to fend off the cold, and what you need is a piping mug of hot, syrupy chocolate to hug your insides. But we recommend skipping packaged powder and dehydrated marshmallows that look a bit like teeth in favor of the array of hot chocolates served in Gainesville’s coffee and tea shops. From robust flavor to frothy sweetness, the perfect cup of comfort might be just around the corner. 

*Prices calculated after tax

CYM Coffee Co. – Small: $3.16 Large $3.69

Address: 5404 NW 8th Ave.

CYM’s hot chocolate arrives in a hefty mug practically spilling over with frothy goodness. Light, foamy and brimming with milk chocolate flavor, it’s a noteworthy contender for the best in town. No need to worry if cow’s milk isn’t your thing: CYM offers both soy and almond milk-based cocoa as well. Plus, it’s easy to relax among the snug bean bag chairs and cats that roam outside.

Harper’s Corner – $3.21

Address: 1236 NW 21 Ave.

Even without marshmallows or whipped cream, the hot cocoa at Harper’s Corner leaves a lasting impression. The drink’s strong, uniquely sweet flavor breaks the chocolate scale while still going down silky smooth. Complete with the quirky mustache mug it’s served in, this sugary warm drink is enough to tempt even the strong willed into an early dessert.

Pascal’s Coffeehouse – Small $2.76 Large $3.29

Address: 112 NW 16th St.

Located just a short jaunt from Library West, Pascal’s is no stranger to University of Florida students. Its hot cocoa is noticeably less chocolate-y, but the drink’s flawlessly frothy consistency makes up for what it lacks in intensity. Each cup is presented with a latte-style heart whirl that matches the shop’s trendy, hipster-style interior.

 

Volta  – $5.35

Address: 48 SW 2nd St.

Volta’s flight of distinctive hot chocolates are adventurous twists on an old favorite. The Xocolate Maya puts a spicy spin on the drink, blending chocolate with cinnamon, cardamom, chiles and cornmeal. Despite its name, dark chocolate lovers will enjoy the shop’s “perfect milk chocolate,” for its frothy, deep bitterness and lingering aftertaste. If you’re feeling experimental, the spiced white chocolate completes the trio with a mix of white chocolate, white pepper, cocoa butter, lemon peel and nutmeg.

43rd Street Deli  – Small: $2.13 Large $2.66

Address: 3483 SW Williston Rd

43rd Street Deli’s warm and sweet hot chocolate pairs perfectly with fluffy pancakes and greasy sausages to stave off a hangover during Sunday brunch. The drink sparks childhood memories of tearing open packets of Swiss Miss. Though the deli’s humbly presented cocoa won’t wow you with its appearance, it’s significantly more affordable than others.

Wyatt’s – $3.46

Address: 202 SE 2nd Ave.

Wyatt’s hot chocolate is beautiful enough to justify snapping a photo. Social media cynics be damned. The light and creamy cocoa gives off a subtle milk chocolate flavor and is topped with foam skillfully shaped into a heart surrounded by whirls. Reach the bottom of your cup, and you’ll be rewarded with a swig of chocolate syrup. If you want to spice up your Instagram with a wintry take on latte art, Wyatt’s is the place to go.

Sweetberries Eatery and Frozen Custard  –  $2.14

Address: 505 NW 13th Street.

Sweetberries offers a decadent hot cocoa on the cheap. Overflowing with a touch of cinnamon, the sandwich shop’s version of the drink makes you question why you’ve ever settled for store bought. For the intensity of the flavor and the amount you receive, Sweetberries’ hot cocoa is worth spoiling yourself on.

 

 

Karma Cream – Small: $3.39, Medium $3.92, Large $4.24

Address: 607 W University Ave.

Beloved for its vegan ice cream and savory sandwiches, Karma Cream also delivers on its hot chocolate. The drink’s rich flavor is nothing short of lavish; each cup tastes like it’s a packed stack of candy bars. Karma Cream’s cocoa is a treat for the eyes. You’ll want to keep your camera out for its professionally executed latte art. And between coconut milk whipped cream and a selection of dairy, oat, soy and almond milks to choose from, chances are that everyone in your friend group can enjoy a mug stress-free.

Maude’s Classic Cafe – $4.61

Address: 101 SE 2nd Pl.

The next time your sweet tooth is calling, you can easily answer it with Maude’s Classic Cafe’s sinfully indulgent hot chocolate. Maude’s heavy, sugary rendition of the drink is topped off with a heap of fluffy whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. You won’t have any trouble feeling satisfied after downing a mug at Maude’s, as its cocoa is both thick and generously served.

Coffee Culture – Small $2.83, Medium $3.48, Large $3.90

Address: 2020 NW 13th St.

For a hot cocoa that’s not only time-efficient but downright delicious, check out Coffee Culture. As the only local coffee shop with a drive-thru, it’s the place for when you’re on the go and need a quick pick-me-up. Tasting strongly of chocolate and finished with thick whipped cream, the cafe’s hot cocoa stands out among its fast food competitors. But if you’re in the mood for an authentic coffee shop experience, you can relax inside to enjoy the soothing sound of piano music as you sip.