Problem: South Dakota is cold.
The Sampson House solution: A mini-mission to find our favorite mug of hot chocolate in the downtown area.
The whole team took an afternoon to sample and evaluate the hot chocolate from five locations using our our handy-dandy tasting rubrics. (Thanks, Kerry!) At each stop, we ordered standard house cups of hot chocolate--no extra flavors, no special stipulations, just classic cocoa. Observe the findings from our research:
1. Phillips Avenue Diner
Our beverages came in big, classic diner mugs topped with whipped cream, marshmallows, and chocolate drizzle. Never underestimate the power of toppings. Overall, we were glad to start with the Diner since their cocoa was lighter than the others.
"More milky than chocolatey." -Kerry
"Lovely presentation with toppings." -Maddie
Average score: 2.3/5
Standing in sharp contrast to our first stop, our Coffea cocoa was rich. Coffee shops generally knows a thing or two about perfectly steamed milk, and that definitely showed at Coffea. Also, they got the memo that we heart toppings because we got whipped cream again! (Cue confetti cannons!)
"Rich flavor and cute cups." -Angie
"Chocolatey, thick, + frothy." -Milana
Average score: 4.6/5
3. M.B. Haskett Delicatessen
Our third stop had perhaps the most unique hot chocolate of anywhere we visited. (No toppings, but we survived.) M.B. Haskett's light-colored cocoa had a far creamier texture than most hot chocolates. It was so frothy, Val wrote "frothy" down twice.
"Rustic. Thick + smooth. Frothy. Frothy. Yum." -Val
"Simple, almost milky or malty." Milana
Average score: 3.4/5
[We interrupt this blog post for a Great Hot Chocolate Tour of Sioux Falls 2K16 Pro Tip: Despite the massive amounts of sugar you've consumed, energy hits a low point around the fourth stop. Your tummies will be very warm and full of chocolate. We recommend a nap break, but for the sake of time, we had to soldier on.]
4. Queen City Bakery
Queen City found the middle ground of sweetness in the hot chocolate world--not too sweet, not not sweet. Again, we missed toppings just a little, but the malted flavor the Bakery's cocoa is known for added a little something extra.
"It tastes 'homey.'" -Maddie
"Consistency was good." -Val
Average score: 3.4/5
Starbucks's research and development department must be doing something right because the corporate cocoa knocked our socks off.
"Sugary + delicious." -Angie
"Great temperature + good chocolate taste." -Kerry
Average score: 4.8/5 (Winner)