Hot campus cocoa

I scout out the elusive hot cocoa of my dreams on SFU campuses

Photo taken by Meera Eragoda

By: Meera Eragoda, Staff Writer

Lower Mainlanders, we were not made for the snow. The week I wrote this, getting to campus was an intimidating prospect. If not the ever-looming threat of being stranded on the mountain, there was also the uncertainty of whether or not to make the trek to campus — only to have your professor cancel class at the last minute because they also (fairly) don’t want to deal with the snow. We were like fragile drooping houseplants in non-ideal conditions. But what better way to perk us up during these trying times than with the warm hug of some hot cocoa? I’ve tried lots of hot cocoa from as many different places as I could so you can have your Goldilocks moment with hot cocoa — without having to face three bears.

Blenz Coffee:

Photo taken by Meera Eragoda

I had fairly low expectations for this one, but the Blenz hot chocolate actually made me feel like Archie (from the comics, not the TV show Riverdale) whenever he walks by a pretty girl. It spun my taste buds around and literal heart emojis may have emerged from my mouth. Hot chocolate could not have described a drink more clearly. It was rich, thick, warm, and very chocolatey. I chose dark chocolate, but milk chocolate would be a lighter option for those not as willing to drown their mouth in so much intensity. There is also a white chocolate option.

Price: $4.99 (including tax)

Available: Vancouver and Surrey campuses

Rating: 8/10, Willy Wonka chocolate rivers


Tree’s Organic Cafe:

Photo taken by Meera Eragoda

Tree’s hot cocoa is sweet — but not too sweet. It’s chocolatey, creamy, and has a nice little frothy layer on top. It’s maybe a little too overpriced for what it is, but if you’re feeling like treating yourself after a particularly exhausting day, or if you’re expecting to  need some chocolate courage to face your day, this might not be a bad place to do it at. Bonus: the cup tells you to “walk tall” and haven’t we all, at one point or another, needed our beverage to make us believe we’re ents?

Price: $4.10 (including tax)

Available: Vancouver campus

Rating: 7/10, cute, encouraging messages



Photo taken by Meera Eragoda

Can we be real for a moment and recognize that Starbucks drinks are literally just different flavours of syrup? No shade here, I love me a peppermint mocha in the winter, but their hot chocolate is just chocolate flavoured syrup. Perfect if you have a super sweet tooth, but you may want to get it half-sweetened, if not. The whipped cream and chocolate drizzle on top add a nice creaminess and real-chocolate taste to it; if you’re not lactose intolerant, I would highly recommend adding.

Price: $3.83 (for the tall size, including tax)

Available: Vancouver, Surrey, and Burnaby campuses

Rating: 5/10, syrups with a side of milk


Cartems Donuts:

Photo taken by Meera Eragoda

I don’t think it should come as a surprise that Cartems does hot chocolate well. This was my favourite because it’s not overly sweet, so the chocolate really does shine through. It was creamy, milky, and the dusting of cocoa on top adds a nice bit of bitterness to it that made it a more complex hot chocolate than the others. I recognize that this is going to be most appealing to people who tend to find drinks at all the other places on this list just a little too sweet. Luckily, if this is not you, there are opportunities to satisfy your sweet tooth with one of their delicious donuts after (the Earl Grey is a classic).

Price: $4.45 (including tax)

Available: Vancouver campus

Rating: 9/10 cocoa dustings


Renaissance Coffee

Photo taken by Meera Eragda

If you’re on the Burnaby campus, this one’s for you — especially if you don’t feel like waiting in line at Tim Hortons. This is the second cheapest option on that campus, and, like everything else at Renaissance, it’s decently solid. Honestly, Renaissance is like the dependable, reliable friend that everyone always takes for granted. The hot cocoa is more chocolatey-sweet than syrupy-sweet (I’m looking at you Starbucks), and the whipped cream on top is nice and light, which works for it. The drizzle they add makes the drink taste kind of caramely which is a pleasant twist.

Price: $2.75 (including tax)

Available: Burnaby campus

Rating: 7.5/10, light, fluffy whipped cream clouds


Tim Hortons

Photo taken by Meera Eragoda

Ok, this may be controversial, but Tim Hortons has a good classic, hot cocoa. When I say classic, I mean like the stuff you would make for yourself at home with a store-bought mix. It’s got that nostalgic, no-fuss feel — and in a world where you never know if things are as they seem, isn’t it nice to have something that represents itself as purely as Tim Hortons hot cocoa? It’s not trying to be anything fancy, but that means it’s not trying to swindle you either. It’s the cheapest option on this list and I’m not mad about it. Are you?

Price: $1.88

Available: Vancouver, Surrey, and Burnaby campuses

Rating: 9/10, basic b’s