Aurora and I are dedicated to giving our readers accounts of all the cultural experiences in Lowell! With this in mind, we nobly took part in the 6th Annual Hot Chocolate competition, sampling hot chocolate from all five participating restaurants. We’re recreating and dramatizing our reactions here.
Rosie’s Cafe (10 Hurd Street)
“Mocha Madness” – Chocolate blended with rich coffee.
Chris: This is off the beaten path! I hope people make it this far out to taste this! It’s definitely as advertised–great tasting coffee with great chocolate. And Rosie’s really has a cute setup, with a nice dining area to the side of the cafe.
Aurora: Lots of whipped cream gets extra points from me. I think the mocha flavor is objectively good, but I’m not sure if the bitterness is my personal taste.
Chris: Well, your coffee is usually about half milk! Anyway, if the hot chocolate is this good at the rest of the places, it’ll be a fun afternoon.
Brew’d Awakening Coffeehaus (61 Market Street)
“Breakfast Hot Chocolate” – Maple syrup hot chocolate with maple whipped cream
Aurora: Man, it’s crazy busy in here.
Chris: Brew’d Awakening in usually busy. Not a surprise we practically had to wait out the door!
Aurora: Yay, tiny pancakes! This one is very pretty.
Chris: Wow, this is the most unique hot chocolate I’ve ever had. I can’t quite tell what the flavor is. Cinammon? Honey? [It was maple.]
Aurora: Yeah… it’s… interesting. I have to give them extra points for ambition, but I’m not sure it’s a success.
Chris: What? Well, perhaps this isn’t what I expect when I think of hot chocolate. But it’s so great! Sticky-sweet. Whereas Rosie’s was good, but predictable, I’ll remember this stuff forever!
Sweet Lydia’s (160 Merrimack Street)
“Peppermint Hot Chocolate with a Vanilla Marshmallow” – Homemade with both dark and white chocolates
Chris: Jeez, I thought the line at Brew’d was long! Very clever, she marches us past all the candy for sale.
Aurora: So, I hear Lydia is the reigning champion, so I’m expecting great things.
Chris: I have to admit, I hate peppermint, so she’s got an uphill battle with me.
Aurora: I, on the other hand, love mint with chocolate. I think this one is very tasty! But the marshmallow stuck to the bottom of the cup–I’m being denied the best part!
Chris: You’re right. It is pretty tasty, even for mint. It just goes to show you, amazing chocolate and marshmallow can overcome even horrible mint flavor!
Time Out Cafe (72 Merrimack Street)
“Time Out Hot Chocolate”
Aurora: If we’re scoring based on presentation, this would be the lowest score! No whipped cream or marshmallows?
Chris: And I can’t say it has a creative name, either. But you can’t judge a hot chocolate by its cover. I think that’s the saying.
Aurora: Dork. You’re right, though! It’s very tasty. Cinnamon, maybe?
Chris: I think you might be right. This is a nice, rich flavor.
Aurora: One of the best “chocolatey” tastes, I think.
Chris: As a side-note, does it feel as if we’ve drunk a gallon of hot chocolate, even though it’s really just been four tiny cups each?
Aurora: It’s an excellent value for a quarter. I definitely feel like I’m getting my money’s worth. But it’s probably fortunate we’re on our last stop!
Cafe Pastiche (11 Kearney Square)
“Brazilian Gourmet Hot Chocolate” – Made from a traditional Brazilian recipe
Chris: Cafe Pastiche? Where’s that?
Aurora: It’s the restaurant with a poster that advertises “Orange Juice all day!”
Chris: Of course! I’ve been by there a hundred times and always wanted to go in.
Aurora: This place looks like it could be dangerous. Everything looks delicious.
Chris: And the hot cocoa presentation is one of the best. A wafer candy (hazelnut?) in a cloud of whipped cream.
Aurora: I don’t even know how to describe this. It is so good.
Chris: This chocolate is so rich. Deep, dark, but not bitter.
Aurora: Not just rich, but creamy. Wait, are you letting your candy melt in the cocoa?
Chris: Of course! I wouldn’t be sad if this was the only dessert I could have for the rest of my life.
And the winner is…
Aurora: So, what do you think was the winner?
Chris: I don’t know! It’s like picking between one’s own children!
Aurora: Honestly, they were all delicious. But if you force me to choose, hands down, Cafe Pastiche is the winner.
Chris: I agree, definitely. With Brew’d Awakening getting second!
Aurora: No way! It was interesting, but interesting isn’t what I’m looking for. Sweet Lydia’s is second for me.
Chris: I should give her credit for making a good-tasting mint chocolate. Really, the people of Lowell are winners for having such great cafes!
Aurora: You’re still a dork.
Aurora: What?! Cafe Pastiche didn’t even place? Clearly the vote was fixed!
Chris: There’s no accounting for taste. Maybe next year!