Battle of the Baristas: Hot chocolate edition


As a somewhat self-professed hot chocolate connoisseur, I decided that I need to know who has the best hot chocolate in the area. For the sake of uniformity, I ordered a regular hot chocolate from each location I visited with no whip cream or mix-ins. My search to find the most delightful chocolate drink led me to find the holy grail of Brambleton/Ashburn hot chocolate. Read below to find out my favorite, in worst to best order. 

4. Starbucks

Starbucks is known for its spin on a classic hot chocolate by using dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate in their drink. Their tall size hot chocolate is 12 fluid ounces and priced at $2.75. 

The drink is initially sweet, but the bitterness at the end of the sip makes it hard to continue drinking. That pattern continues until the end, where the divide between water and chocolate becomes apparent. As my dad put it, “It tastes like someone dropped a piece of chocolate in hot water,” and, might I add, forgot to fully mix it. The drink tastes as if water was simply a vehicle for Starbucks to promote artisanal dark chocolate. 

Overall this drink ranked last because, simply put, it was hard to finish. I applaud Starbucks for trying to be original, but I will choose a classic milk chocolate hot chocolate over their drink any day. 

3. Peet’s Coffee

Peet’s Coffee has a hot chocolate that includes their signature chocolate sauce. The small size costs $3.25.

The drink bordered on lukewarm. It tasted like a slightly better version of the Starbucks dark chocolate drink because it wasn’t as bitter, but it didn’t taste great. This drink felt very forgettable. The signature chocolate sauce tasted like an afterthought because it tasted like nothing more than just plain old hot chocolate. 

 This hot chocolate placed third because it is slightly better than Starbucks due to it being more palatable, but it lacked an original taste. 

2. Dunkin’

Dunkin’, formerly known as Dunkin’ Donuts, promises a “creamy, and craveable hot chocolate,” on their online menu. A small hot chocolate at Dunkin’ is 10 fluid ounces and costs $1.85. 

Before even tasting the drink I noted that the cup was extremely hot. The drink tasted like when you are a little kid and you mix marshmallows into hot chocolate and it melts together, which made me enjoy each sip. It was very sweet, but not overpowering. Compared to the other drinks it felt much lighter and more watery, but overall had a very pleasant and consistent flavor. 

This drink ranked second because of its smooth consistency and nostalgic taste. 

1. Filling Co. Gas and Grub

The new food and drink spot in Brambleton, Filling Co. Gas and Grub, offers their hot chocolate for $2.45. 

I was initially skeptical of this hot chocolate because it came out of a machine, while all the others were made by a barista. It was also advertised as including Hershey’s chocolate, which made me worry it might taste very generic. Much to my surprise, the machine gave it a perfect mix and texture. The flavor was perfect, not too sweet and super consistent. I was very shocked, but got reassurance from my family that it was in fact their favorite too. 

In my opinion, Filling Co. Gas and Grub has the best hot chocolate. This is my new go to spot for my hot chocolate fix in the Brambleton area.