Hot cocoa and hot chocolate are quintessential staples of the winter months – but you might be wondering just where to look for the best of the best in Lexington. Some might say that tossing your average Swiss Miss mix into the microwave will do the trick, and there’s no shame in that if you’re on team quick and convenient tastiness. Others might swear by a trip to the drive-through for Starbucks’ famed hot chocolate or various hot mochas, or insist upon making it from scratch. There may not be one right answer, but here are some options that should suit everyone’s tastes.

Chocolate Holler

Very few coffee and chocolate bars are as beloved as Lexington, Kentucky’s very own Chocolate Holler, and so it’s no surprise that their hot chocolate is held in high regard by the community. They also serve what is referred to as “sipping chocolate”, or chocolate bars dipped in hot milk to create a unique hot chocolate experience. Not only do they have various flavors to choose from, but you can get yourself an “iced chocolate” as well, bringing the frozen coffee craze to the next natural (and delicious) conclusion. The shop serves various milk alternatives for those who are lactose sensitive or dairy-free, as well.

Fair Trade Shops

Stores like Lucia’s World Emporium on North Ashland Avenue and the Good Foods Co-Op on Southland Drive don’t just have hot chocolate– these one-of-a-kind local shops that stock ethically-made, Fair Trade goods have hot chocolate you can feel good about while knowing that the exploitation that often occurs within cocoa farming isn’t in your Christmas Eve cup of hot cocoa. Equal Exchange’s top-notch hot chocolate and cocoa come in various flavors, with their hot chocolate even being vegan-friendly (just don’t forget the oat or almond milk) and their hot cocoa requiring only hot water to prepare.

Third Street Stuff

This eccentric coffee shop (no longer actually located on 3rd St but rather on the historic and gorgeous N Limestone stretch nearby Gratz Park and Transylvania University) also serves up delicious hot chocolate alongside other classics like chai lattes and iced coffee. You can spruce up your hot chocolate however you see fit, be it with extra flavors or with any of their five milks (dairy, soy, oat, almond, and coconut), all while taking in the cheerful and cozy atmosphere full of local art and unique gift shop items.

Common Grounds

Common Grounds Coffee House, a Lexington staple for nearly thirty years which features multiple locations throughout the city, has more than just its beloved coffee on the menu. Alongside their smoothies and berry refreshers, their non-coffee offerings include that of both classic and white hot chocolate.