Portland is a city known for many things - coffee, craft beer, books, bridges, food, art, the list could go on and on. But one thing that is under the radar is Portland's hot chocolate scene. With close to ten different chocolatiers in Portland, it’s hard to imagine why this hasn’t become more of a thing. Perhaps the coffee scene eclipses it? In any case, if you come to Portland and don’t check out one of these hot chocolates, you’re missing out.
Check out four of my favorite hot chocolate stops for a delicious cup. Or, if you’re with friends or out of town guests, take them on the best tasting tour - a hot chocolate tour!
First Up, Coffeehouse NW. A hidden gem, Coffeehouse NW has been around for a while. Located on the corner of NW Burnside and 19th, walking into the shop is akin to entering a museum. The ambiance immediately eliminates the hustle and bustle of Burnside, and welcomes you in. The menu here is classic and all you have to say is that you’re there for the hot chocolate. The barista will give you a genuine nod, and share a fun fact or two about the drink. One thing to note - the hot chocolate here is best when made with classic milk. If you can tolerate dairy, in any capacity, you should order it. Share a cup! Have a taste. It’s worth it. I promise.
Grab a seat at the large community table or one by windows as you take in the art displayed by local artists. Once your drink arrives, settle in. Enjoy the people watching through the floor to ceiling windows, take in the beautiful brick wall and take your first sip. You’ll want to be sitting for this one.
Next, Cacao. Not cocoa. Cacao. This little establishment is one of my all-time favorites. It is a small boutique craft chocolate shop that offers some of best drinking chocolate you can imagine. Now let me clarify - drinking chocolate is different than hot chocolate. So, if doing a hot chocolate tour, it’s worth going to both Coffeehouse NW and Cacao to experience the full spectrum of chocolate in drinkable forms.
You’ll want to order the flight of drinking chocolates - a classic French style, a lighter spiced Venezuelan milk chocolate and a dark chocolate variety that is to die for. While the cups may seem small, the depth and intensity of the chocolate will blow your mind. Take a friend or your mom or your significant other. There's no better way to enjoy a cup of drinking chocolate at Cacao than by enjoying it with someone else.
Have you heard of Courier Coffee Roasters? Another coffee shop, I know, but the hot chocolate at this establishment is another gem. I’d use the word eccentric to best describe Courier Coffee Roasters, and it’s a great choice to make a pit stop on a cold blustery day. When you order your hot chocolate, you will see just how seriously they take their art. Each cup is the perfect balance of the ideal temperature, perfectly frothed milk and Grand Cru Felchlin chocolate. It’s easy to see why Courier is known for focusing on quality and experience, rather than convenience.
If you work downtown and need something to make your day a little bit brighter, I’d suggest you head over there ASAP.
And last but certainly not least, Moonstruck Chocolate is a must. Having opened back in 1993, Moonstruck was one of the few chocolatiers to take make their mark. With a number of locations, Moonstruck’s downtown shop is easy to miss, right on the corner of SW 6th and Alder. It’s more of a lobby if you will, but fear not! This 250 square foot shop offers all the bells and whistles, including handmade truffles and a full barista menu of delectable drinks.
With 5 different varieties, my go to is the Dark Mayan Hot Chocolate, with cinnamon and vanilla. I find it to be the perfect companion while out and about. And the shop is only two blocks away from Pioneer Courthouse Square, so grab a hot chocolate to go and stay warm! You won't regret it.
Heads up - Currently, Moonstruck’s NW 23rd location is under remodel. I’d give one of the many locations a call to see if they’ve reopened. That location was one of my favs!
What’s your favorite hot chocolate spot in downtown Portland? If you have a suggestion to add to the list, drop a comment below!