Hot chocolate masters: trying out the drink spots around Ames


Emma Stewart and Aaron Marner

With winter storms and below freezing temperatures looming for the next few months, the only logical and delicious way to stay warm is with a good ole’ cup of steaming hot chocolate. But how is one supposed to know where to go for the best hot chocolate in town? Fear not Ames High, for the WEB has the answer.

Our adventure started at Dunkin Donuts with low expectations. Chain restaurants shouldn’t be able to compete with the personal touch of a local operation. At first, we thought our initial suspicions were being confirmed; the beverage was scalding hot.  However, after the burning on our tongues subsided, we discovered the luscious taste hidden in the Dunkin Donuts hot chocolate. It tasted like melted brownies, and earned an 8 out of 10 on the Emma and Aaron hot chocolate scale.

After a quick, and honestly terrible, stop at Arcadia to test their bland and watery hot chocolate (earning a 2), we ventured on towards Starbucks. This proved to be a mistake. It took approximately three hours to navigate through hundreds of customers, many of whom seemed to be taking pictures of their beverages and uploading them to instagram, with captions like “I’m not #basic, I swear” and “Starbucks is life <3.” A journey that wasn’t worth the sub par hot chocolate delivered to us. We rated it a simple 5 out of 10.

Moving on to Main Street, we quickly stopped at Café Diem. The hot chocolate good, but not excellent. We gave it a 6.5 on the scale. Close by, it’s underground neighbor known as the Vinyl Café, which was invitingly lit up with festive lights. We realized the restaurant had closed two hours prior to our arrival, but we were graciously let in by the owner for a private “after hours” hot chocolate taste test. The drink was amazing. Not only was the service more than generous, but the hot chocolate we were served was perfectly warmed and had the right creamy mix of chocolate. Not to mention it was made fresh on the spot. We gave Vinyl a 9.75 out of 10 on the scale, the best hot chocolate yet.

We furthered our investigation, but found no other establishment with quite as heavenly cocoa as The Vinyl Café. Panera had a satisfying  creamy drink equipped with marshmallows, earning a 7 out of 10. Followed by The Café, that offered a selection of milks and whipped cream upon ordering.

Our favorite stop ended up being at the Vinyl Café in downtown Ames. The best things in the world are the following: Unicorns, Vinyl Café hot chocolate, The AFC North, and The Backstreet Boys. Obviously, if we’re ranking the Vinyl Café’s hot chocolate above the Backstreet Boys, it’s legitimate.