A trail of creative hot drinks will be luring people into Lower Hutt’s central city this month, when the country’s only hot chocolate challenge kicks off in the Hutt Valley.
The “Sweet As” Hutt’s Hot Chocolate Challenge™, into it’s fifth year, will see 17 hospitality operators including cafes, restaurants, bars and a bakery in Lower Hutt create their own signature hot chocolate drinks for people to enjoy over three weeks. Customers will be the given the chance to vote for their favourite drink by ballot or on Sweet As Hutt’s Hot Chocolate Facebook page, with the winner declared at the end of the challenge which takes place between 4-28 July.
The challenge, founded by the Hutt City Council as a way to inspire local cafes to be creative as well as draw people out to the CBD during winter, has become bigger and better since it launched in 2015.
Hutt City Council CBD Development Manager Cyndi Christensen says “It’s a great opportunity for people to get out of the house over winter, try out new cafes as well as bring family and friends together socially over a delicious hot chocolate! It’s also great for business. Last year’s winner Fix Federation with their Salted Caramel Fix sold more than 1,000 hot chocolates during the challenge, averaging 80 hot chocolates a day! And many of the cafes continued to offer their signature drinks to customers because they were such a hit,”
For the first time this year there has been an increase in internationally themed drinks reflecting the diverse range of different cultures in Lower Hutt. Cuffs café has created ‘ohh lala’, a French inspired drink complete with raspberry and chocolate macaroons, Coffix café is offering a Mexican spicy white hot chocolate with a hint of fruit and floral; and for an Italian fix, Giuseppe’s is the place to be with Chocagatto! – a rich thick dark Italian chocolate with a chocolate dipped savoiardi biscuit.
“Every year I am astounded by the creativity and innovation of the cafes involved in the challenge. Colab Café, for example, has spent the past 6 months working tirelessly with their partner The Cookie Cup social enterprise to develop New Zealand’s first edible hot chocolate cup. This was no easy feat because the cup needs to hold its shape, hold a hot liquid and also be delicious but they did it!” says Christensen.
Several cafes have also used the challenge’s popularity to partner up with well known local brands including The Wellington Chocolate Factory, Ripe Coffee Roasters and Whittakers to create their one-off signature drinks. There is also something to suit any taste-buds or dietary requirements – from sweet chocolate drinks to healthy options such as Shine café’s ‘Beet the Blast’ with beetroot to boost immunity against the winter blast! Many of the cafes also cater to customers who are vegan, dairy free, gluten free and after child-size drinks.
The 2019 “Sweet As” Hutt’s Hot Chocolate Challenge™ booklet will highlight every hot chocolate in the challenge and include the map and drink descriptions. There is also a variety of prizes to be won with this year’s challenge.