Even though Grand Junction is known for its mild winters, when it comes to hot chocolate, locals love to sip on rich cocoa no matter what the temperature. From a unique recipe made from three kinds of melted chocolate to cocoa that is 100% dairy-free, GJ has so much variety, you’ll want to try them all. In celebration of National Hot Chocolate Day on January 31, the Visit Grand Junction team tried a cup of hot chocolate from 11 local coffee shops.
Michael, Visit GJ’s Data Analyst, ventured to Main Street Bagels and Bakery. Every winter, Main Street Bagels resurrects their one-of-a-kind specialty hot chocolate. The Polar Express story inspired this creamy chocolatey treat. The owners read the book to their children every year, and they would all fantasize about "hot chocolate as thick as melted chocolate bars." Eventually, it was time to stop imagining and create it. After much trial and error, Main Street Bagels created a combination of three different kinds of melted chocolate along with a secret blend of ingredients with homemade whipped cream piled high. Their Polar Express hot chocolate has become as much a part of winter in Grand Junction as skiing at Powderhorn Mountain Resort.
Enstrom Toffee and Confectionary has been a staple in Grand Junction since 1929 when it first opened as an ice cream shop. Since then, it has become world-famous for its rich, buttery and addictive almond toffee. Every year, thousands of pounds of Enstrom's candy are shipped all over the world. Kyle, Visit GJ’s Content Coordinator, stopped by the candy store at Enstrom's headquarters in Downtown Grand Junction. Their rich and creamy hot chocolate is made from the same cocoa powder they use to make their milk chocolate candies. While you wait for your beverage, watch chocolatiers work their magic in the candy factory or browse the hundreds of chocolates, toffees, and other sweets that line the shelves. Good luck leaving with just a cup of hot chocolate!
Be Sweet Café has quickly earned a reputation for its delightful sweets, like their famous cinnamon rolls. Everything on their menu is made from scratch every day using quality ingredients, many of which are sourced locally in the Grand Valley. Be Sweet lovingly makes everything to be as beautiful as it is delicious. Kim, Visit GJ’s Administrative & Financial Analyst, discovered they use the same care and passion when making their beverages. Kim’s hot chocolate was not only overflowing with flavor but was topped off with a photogenic mountain of whip cream and drizzled with chocolate syrup. For even more chocolate, this pairs perfectly with a fresh-baked chocolate croissant.
Copeka has long been a popular place for locals to hang out. On any given day, you will find college students studying, friends playing board games, and a crochet club working on their latest project together. Mason, Visit GJ’s CMU intern, spent some time at Copeka. While you can grab a cup to go, this rich and creamy hot chocolate is best enjoyed at the shop. Take your time and enjoy the unique handmade mugs and let the delicious flavors inspire you as you work on the community puzzle.
If you’re looking to stay close to a variety of restaurants and have easy access to all of Grand Junction’s legendary outdoor adventures, then you’re going to want to be on Horizon Drive. And if you're craving a cup of hot chocolate, then nearby Octopus Coffee is your go-to. Elizabeth, Visit GJ’s Director, stopped by and enjoyed a creamy almond milk hot cocoa. Elizabeth also discovered Octopus is known for their homemade chai tea spice and hearty made from scratch breakfast burritos that will fuel any adventure. And the staff at Octopus? Well, they are nothing short of amazing and super friendly!
Perfect for anyone who loves to read, the Novel Cup is a conveniently cute coffee hut right next to the Grand Junction Public Library. Whether you’re looking for a quiet place to study, or in search of your next novel, stop by the Novel Cup first and pick up a hot chocolate, bring it into the library, and stay warm and cozy while you get lost in literary heaven. Greg, Visit GJ’s Volunteer and literary aficionado, picked up a cup of hot chocolate on his way to the library. Not only was it piping hot and bursting with sweet chocolate goodness, but he took advantage of one of their daily specials and upsized his drink for free!
A local favorite known for its specialty drinks. The Coffee Trader loves to add their own flair to classics. Kerry, Visit GJ’s Visitor Center & Administrative Coordinator, went straight for the Mexican cocoa. This drink pays homage to traditional Mexican chocolate, which is made from cocoa beans as well as a mix of spices like jalapenos, habaneros, and Cheyenne peppers. The Coffee Trader uses spiced Mexican chocolate to create a rich, thick, and creamy beverage with a hint of spice. The flavor combination might sound odd but is deliciously complimentary and something you must try for yourself! While you're there, stock up on aromatic coffee beans and specialty teas as well!
Java Junction is one of the oldest coffee shops in Grand Junction, located in the heart of Downtown. A smaller shop, it's perfect for grabbing a steaming cup of hot chocolate while strolling through Downtown and taking in the over 100 sculptures, all part of the award-winning Art on the Corner program. Patty, a Visit GJ Volunteer, grabbed a hot chocolate and had a friendly chat with Sterling, the owner, before heading into A Robin’s Nest, located right next store. A Robin’s Nest is the largest antique mall between Denver and Salt Lake City. A nice hot cup of cocoa makes strolling the isles looking for the next amazing find even more enjoyable!
More than just your average coffee shop, Board Fox has become a community center for lovers of board games. In addition to a wide selection of games and puzzles, Board Fox hosts regular game nights. Everyone is welcome to join as they play different games throughout the week. As you play and make new friends, sipping on steamy hot chocolate, there's no better way to fight off the chill of a winter evening. Jack, a Visit GJ Volunteer, dropped by Board Fox Games and not only had an excellent hot chocolate but left with an addition for his own game night.
Looking to grab a hot chocolate with your study group while working on your next project? How about just hanging out with a group of friends to relax and catch up? Four Winds is a nonprofit coffee shop with plenty of tables and three meeting rooms. The friendly baristas expertly whip up drinks using locally sourced ingredients. Have any books you think others would enjoy? Add them to the book share at Four Winds and pick up something new to read for yourself. Nothing compliments a new story like a cup of homemade hot chocolate!
Located on Main Street between Dream Café and Goat & Clover Tavern, the baristas at Kiln Coffee Bar know how to whip up an enticing cup of hot chocolate. Ciara, Visit GJ’s CMU intern, loves to go to Kiln for their laid-back atmosphere, friendly people, and fresh ingredients. While many cocoa powders and sweeteners contain dairy, Kiln uses 100% cocoa powder and white sugar. So, if you get your drink with almond or soy milk, their hot chocolate is dairy-free! Top it off with an adorable piece of beverage art, and you've got a beautiful looking drink. The only way to make it any prettier? Put it in a reusable Kiln mug featuring artwork from local artists!
While Visit Grand Junction was able to tackle half of the Grand Junction coffee shops, there are still 10 more, so we need your help! Consider joining us as an official taste-tester and grab a hot chocolate from any Grand Junction coffee shop, share your photo using #ShareGJ and mention something you love about the place! We can’t wait to hear your favorites!
Check out the rest of Grand Junction’s coffee houses: Roasted Espresso & Subs, Jitterz Coffee Hut, Trailhead Coffee Bar & Café, Sweet Kiwi Bakery, Starbucks Coffee, Daylight Donuts, Artful Cup, Graff Diary, Home Style Bakery, and Mountain Grind Coffee.
Check out page 36 of the Grand Junction Adventure Guide for more seasonal events.