Onward State’s Cocoa Crawl: 10 Years Later

In 2012, Onward State’s forefathers set out on a Cocoa Crawl downtown to taste-test and rank different hot chocolates in State College.

Ten years later, we thought it was time for a revamp. Is the hot chocolate still as good as it was back when Gangnam Style was released? Have any new places surpassed the competition? Well, don’t fret. We’ve got that covered.

Through this modern Cocoa Crawl, I tried nine different hot cocoas in State College — Sowers Harvest Cafe, Crust & Crumb, Irving’s, Vibe Coffee Co., Webster’s, Elixr, Saxbys, Dunkin’, and Starbucks. Unlike the last crawl, I decided to rate the drinks holistically, along with their price. Surprisingly, every single hot chocolate was under $4.00 (excluding larges)!

Without further ado, let’s get to it.

Irving’s Bagels ($3.25)

Pros: Steamed milk on top, good amount of thickness.
Cons: Tasted almost exactly like milk. I am not sure if I got a weird batch, but it was just hot milk.

This hot chocolate was honestly a little disappointing. I had high expectations, but it was just too milky for me. However, if you don’t really like chocolate but want a hot and comforting drink, this could work for you. The price is pretty average, but I will not spend money on it again.

Saxbys ($3.25)

Pros: Large size for a small, perfect amount of chocolate. Creamy, steamed milk on top.
Cons: Could be fancier, a little basic.

I am not going to lie: This was one of my favorites. It tasted like an upgraded Swiss Miss…but in the best way? It had just the right amount of chocolate, and I finished it a little too quickly. A good quick grab and definitely worth a try.

Sowers Harvest Cafe ($2.95)

Pros: Everything. Perfect amount of cream and chocolate. Cinnamon and whipped cream on top, plus a pretty design.
Cons: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Wow. 10/10. First off, the price was very good for a huge mug of cocoa. It was very creamy and rich but not overpoweringly sweet or heavy. The froth on top added a special something and gave the whole drink a nice texture. A guest hot chocolate-taster even called it “phenomenal!”

Crust & Crumb ($2.75)

Pros: Very thick. The hot chocolate itself is made from Ghirardelli chocolate and heated marshmallows. Sweet flavor, almost like a cookie.
Cons: Perhaps a little too sweet, and the steamed milk on top was extremely thick. Similar to buttercream frosting.

I have mixed feelings about this one. Crust & Crumb had its own take of hot chocolate. It was good, but not at all what I expected. It was extremely sweet, and I didn’t much like that, but if you want a sugary warm drink, this would be perfect for you.

Vibe Coffee Co. ($3.00)

Pros: Whipped cream with a chocolate drizzle on top. Tastes exactly like a dark chocolate bar.
Cons: Too fine and chocolatey, too strong of a flavor.

This was the most chocolatey drink I tried by far. The intense chocolate flavor was a bit overpowering, but it was still a good drink. If you like dark chocolate, try this one out.

Elixr ($3.75)

Pros: Such a pretty design! It had the amount of thickness with steamed milk on top.
Cons: A little expensive. Needs more milk, less powder.

This hot chocolate was very rich and powdery. It tasted like very fine chocolate, almost like an upgraded Starbucks. While pretty, this hot chocolate was too deep for me and the most expensive one.

Webster’s Cafe ($2.30)

Pros: Least expensive, chocolate drizzle on the sides of the cup and on top of the whipped cream. Creamy.
Cons: Tasted buttery?

I cannot explain it, but this hot chocolate tasted like butter. Not really in a bad way, though. I enjoyed this one, especially because it was light and creamy. The price was also great, which is always a plus!

Starbucks ($3.25)

Pros: Convenient, had whipped cream.
Cons: Way too deep and powdery.

The Starbucks hot chocolate was my least favorite. It was way too deep and powdery, especially for being relatively pricey compared to the others! However, there are Starbucks all over campus. If you are desperate, this is a very convenient option.

Dunkin‘ ($2.19)

Pros: Classic. Right amount of chocolate, very cheap.
Cons: A bit watery, smaller portion.

I’m not going to lie, I am a Dunkin’ hot chocolate stan. It is inexpensive and great for the price. There was no whipped cream, drizzle, or design, so it was basic but honestly pretty good. The cup was smaller than the others and it tasted alarmingly like Swiss Miss…

After consuming more hot chocolate than the average person ever should, I came up with my final rankings.

After consuming far more hot chocolate than the average person ever should, I came up with some final rankings:

  • 9th — Starbucks
  • 8th — Irving’s
  • 7th — Elixr
  • 6th — Crust & Crumb
  • 5th — Dunkin’
  • 4th — Webster’s Cafe
  • 3rd — Vibe Coffee Co.
  • 2nd — Saxbys
  • 1st — Sowers Harvest Cafe

Well, how did we do? Is your favorite State College hot chocolate ranked too high or too low? Let us know in the comments.

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About the Author

Alexandra Pepe

Alex is a senior from New Canaan, CT, pursuing the Master's of Accounting program and minoring in journalism. She spends most of her free time with friends, watching "Curb Your Enthusiasm", or trying to figure out the buses. Her favorite things are getting breakfast sandwiches on a Sunday morning, listening to new music, and... writing for OS, of course! She can be reached through her email [email protected].

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