The hot chocolate saga of St Andrews

Maiah tells you all about where to go (and where NOT to) for the best and worst hot chocolate.

As a wide-eyed, innocent fresher at the beginning of the school year, I arrived in St Andrews experiencing weather unlike anything I had ever experienced in my (mostly) sunny home of Virginia.  My remedy for always feeling cold here was one thing only: hot chocolate.  Because I loved the drink so much, I made it my mission to try hot chocolate from as many places I possibly could in St Andrews, and now that it’s my second year, I wanted to share all my hot chocolate secrets with all the new freshers in town who are feeling a little chilled or homesick.

I rated each hot chocolate based on flavour, (how chocolate-y was the hot chocolate?) consistency, service, serving size, and price.  I tried to be as fair as possible, ordering the same size at every place so I would be more consistent with my ratings.  Pleasantly surprised by some places, and a bit appalled by others, my hot chocolate palate certainly expanded last year, and now I can say that i’m a bit of a connoisseur.

Photo: Pxr Here

I rated each hot chocolate from a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the worst and 10 being the best score.

1.Rascals: 2 

You could not taste the chocolate, and the flavour was very bitter. Given that the place is more of a bar, I don’t think hot chocolate is their speciality.  The bartender also carded me for ordering hot chocolate which I thought was strange and rather annoying, so this place would not be my first choice for hot chocolate in town.


2.The Vic: 9.5

Amazingly foamy, rich chocolate flavor. They also gave me two Oreos on the side which was a pleasant surprise. Plus, the bartender/barista was super nice and a bit weirded out that I ordered hot chocolate at the Vic.  The hot chocolate itself was incredibly smooth and dark.  I would definitely order here again, and there are other seasonal flavours, such as chocolate orange, or honeycomb hot chocolate that I would be willing to try.


3.St. Andrews Brew Co: 7

I thought that this was pretty average hot chocolate but they really give you a lot. I’m pretty sure the hot chocolate was served in a soup cup.  The flavour is definitely more milky than chocolate, but Brew Co. gives you the most bang for your buck.


4.Hall Hot Chocolate: 7

For those of you that are staying in the catered halls in town, you are probably familiar with the touchscreen hot drinks machines in the dining hall that dispense mochas, hot chocolates, and other stuff.  There are two different chocolate drinks you can get: the chocolate vs. the hot chocolate.   I’m not going to lie, the chocolatte is better than the hot chocolate. I really cannot explain it, it just is.  The flavour is creamier and denser.  The difference is like drinking chocolate milk vs. hot chocolate.  Also, I could get it three times a day if I wanted to which is not a bad deal.

5.Pret A Manger: 5

This was pretty average and pretty expensive, and honestly, I was expecting better from Pret.  For such a large and popular chain restaurant, I thought their hot chocolate recipe would be solid.  Overall, thee chocolate flavour was good, it just wouldn’t be my first choice.

Photo: Pix Here

6.Old Union Coffee Shop: 9

Old Union has got their hot chocolate recipe down.  From great hot chocolate to nice service, plus a whopping serving, I would get this hot chocolate time after time. You can even get marshmallows and whipped cream if you order the “ deluxe” version, but you don’t even need it.  The regular is THAT good.  Also the location is incredibly convenient, and I can pick up a cup on my way back from classes on the Scores, or lectures at Buchanan.  I mean, this place knows what they’re doing – Old Union has been around since before our parents’ generation so they are hot chocolate pros.

7.Gorgeous: 6.5

I have only been to Gorgeous once, and that is because I was drawn to the front of the store: it’s absolutely adorable and looks like a flower shop.  However, the hot chocolate was kind of pricey and the recipe itself was okay.  But they give you a crap ton of whipped cream and marshmallows which I’m not going to complain about.  I wouldn’t buy this hot chocolate regularly, only to wash down something I ate from Dervish, which is right next door.

8.Starbucks: 6

This is not my first choice, and the hot chocolate is not too chocolatey. But, it’s okay for the price and very convenient if I happen to be studying there.  It’s better to go somewhere else, especially in a town where there are plenty of cute and local cafes.

9.Mitchells: 6.5

If I had to describe this hot chocolate in one word it would be “mehhh.” But, the flavour is alright, and the presentation of the hot chocolate is beautifully minimalistic.  It’s a very no-nonsense hot chocolate, meant only to warm you up and get the job done.  however, they don’t give you enough and it’s best to spend your money elsewhere.

10.Regs Hall Hot Chocolate: 8.5

Look, I know this hot chocolate is incredibly hard to come by if you don’t live in Regs, or know Sandra, the warden.  But holy crap, this hot chocolate was amazing.  In fact, Sandra is known among all the Regsians for her hot chocolate, so if you live in Regs or have the chance to taste this hot chocolate, don’t pass it up.  The hot chocolate was basically just melted dark chocolate with loads of whipped cream and marshmallows.  It was super rich and the perfect consistency – I would for sure have this again.

Photo: Pixabay


11.Lochore Cafe: 3

This was not good hot chocolate.  Let me repeat, NOT GOOD.  It was more of a watered down milk drink with chocolate powder.  it really is best to get something else. But on a day when it’s freezing cold and you just need to feel warm it does the trick.  The place is also not accessible, unless you’re on the rowing or sailing team and practice there often.

12.Fisher & Donaldson: 1.5

Nope, just nope. This hot chocolate was so, so watery. I thought Fisher & Donaldson would have a great hot chocolate recipe since their other food products are amazing, but the hot chocolate came from a machine.  It was so not worth it – but the pastries are amazing. Go for the strawberry danish instead.

13.The Cottage Kitchen: 6.5

This drink was more on the milk chocolate side so if you don’t like dark chocolate go for this. It was okay in my opinion but they give loads of cream and marshmallows, so I was happy about that and not having to pay extra for toppings.

14.Nandos: 7

This hot chocolate was pretty average but hey it’s a good deal and pretty creamy. Plus it goes well with the Nata pastries, or the other desserts offered on the menu.  I guess I shouldn’t expect award-winning hot chocolate in a place that specialises in chicken.

15.Mozza: 8

I was surprised by this hot chocolate!  After going to Nandos for hot chocolate, I wasn’t expecting much from a place that specialises in pizza rather than hot chocolate.  But I really liked this hot chocolate! It paired rather well with the no. 5 pizza.  Although it was more on the milk chocolate side (I prefer dark), it was good nonetheless. It was foamy and creamy, and they give you a lot.

16.North Point: 7

This hot chocolate was pretty good, with a nice light chocolate flavour that did not overpower my meal.  Although it was not my absolute favourite, I would definitely buy it for the price, especially with a slice of their chocolate cake.  And of course, who wouldn’t want to go for hot chocolate in the cafe where Will and Kate met?


17.Costa: 6.5

This is what I would call a consistent hot chocolate. I went there three times in one week and it has tasted exactly the same, so it’s reliable.  For Americans, the flavour is a bit like the Swiss Miss packets we had growing up.  Costa also does seasonal hot chocolate, like peppermint or gingerbread, so the variety is a nice addition as well.

18.Forgans: 7

The hot chocolate here was average.  It tasted almost exactly like the one at North Point, which is why I gave it the same rating.  I wouldn’t come here on a daily basis, unless it was some sort of special occasion, as the food and drinks are pricey, and not worth the price or effort just for a hot chocolate.

19.Bibis: 6

I went to this hot chocolate place on my 19th birthday, and it was the 19th place in town that I got hot chocolate, so I’ll always remember Bibis for that.  However, I wouldn’t buy the hot chocolate here again, and maybe try something else on the menu.  Maybe it’s because I got the regular hot chocolate (there were other flavours) but there were other places, such as the Vic and Old Union, that were simply just better.

Photo: Pexels

20.Rector’s Cafe: 7.5

I was so surprised and blown away by this hot chocolate.  There were different flavours being served at Rector’s, and I opted for the orange hot chocolate. It was surprisingly nice, full of citrus and milk chocolate flavour, wonderfully creamy, and topped with cream and a chocolate orange slice.  I would for sure come back to Rector’s again, just for the hot chocolate.


I was lucky to find a place that served two of my favourite foods: gelato and hot chocolate.  But I’m warning you: don’t plan on eating anything else for the rest of the day if you order the hot chocolate here.  It’s like a full meal, and probably worth the calories of one.  That said, the flavour is incredibly rich and dark, with mounds of whipped cream, eraser-sized marshmallows, and chocolate shavings.  It’s more of a dessert than a drink, and should definitely be saved for special occasions because it’s a real treat.

22.The Doll’s House: 5.5

This hot chocolate was just okay, and I don’t think I would order it again unless I was going in for a long study session or for a sit-down meal.  However, I’ve heard the other hot drinks at the Doll’s House are quite nice, so I’m keeping my eye out for those.

23.Taste: 4

I really did not enjoy this hot chocolate.  I had a bit of free time, and it was a rainy day, so I decided to give Taste a try.  I waited in there for what seemed like forever, for mediocre, watered-down hot chocolate.  Although the ambience and decor of the place itself was very cosy, I will definitely pick a different place for hot chocolate.

So, there you have it.  I tackled 23 different places searching for the best hot chocolate, and the winners were the Old Union Cafe, and surprisingly, the Vic.  But in all honesty, I’m a bit obsessed with hot chocolate and will continue to search high and low around St Andrews for the best, and maybe even try some new places along the way.  I’ve got about three years left here, and that means a lot more hot chocolate.




15 thoughts on “The hot chocolate saga of St Andrews

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