It’s a drink that evokes childhood memories—a steaming mug of cocoa warming hands chilled from sled-ding, the scent of sweet, decadent chocolate wafting up as you slowly take that first delicious sip.

“When I was about 3 my mom would drop me off at the neighbors’ house and they would take me to pre-school. And, every morning for breakfast when it was cold, we would have buttered toast and cocoa,” said BJ Davis of Bee Roasters.

“She’d use Baker’s chocolate and some sugar and a little salt and milk and cook it on the stove and we always dipped our toast in the cocoa. For me, it truly is a memory of childhood.”

These days however, Davis is serving up a different sort of hot chocolate at her two coffee shops—a Bon-fire Mocha guaranteed to “really warm you up.” Her secret: chipotle, for a bit of a kick.

“I like playing around with flavors and think chocolate and chilies go well together. We use a single-origin cocoa from Ghana called Omanhene that has more of a dark chocolate flavor, but is still quite sweet,” she said. “We mix it with our espresso and chipotle to give it a little bit of a smoky taste. We have some people who are hooked on it and the spicier the better.”

You’ll also find Bee Roasters coffee in Julie Bolejack’s Mayan Mocha. Bolejack, owner of Chocolate for the Spirit, concocted the creation in homage to the year she spent in Canada when she was just 18—her first experience living on her own.

“Money was tight and there was very little for discretionary spending. One of my treats was going to a local coffee house with open microphone night. During these nights out I’d order their special drink of coffee and cocoa,” Bolejack said. “On cold nights the steaming cup warmed me—to my very soul. I have always considered the combination a special treat and am happy to offer it to my customers.”

The Mayan Mocha combines Chocolate for the Spirit’s Mayan Cocoa Mix and Bee Roasters Coffee.

“Warming spices, chocolate and coffee—a trifecta for the tongue,” Bolejack said.

Stop by Delicia or La Mulita in South Broad Ripple at 52nd and College in Indianapolis and you might want to savor a cup of Chef Ricky Martinez’s traditional Mexican Hot Chocolate—with a grown-up flair.

“It’s pretty similar to the one that I grew up with, but I did some modifications to it—like half and half instead of milk, and I add whipped cream and shaved chocolate,” Martinez said. “It reminds me of home. My mom used to make this on cold or rainy days and we all sat on the balcony to watch the rain and drink chocolate.”

Martinez said what makes the drink unique is the brand of chocolate used—Chocolate Abuelita.

“Abuelita is the Spanish word for grandma. This chocolate has been in every Mexican home since 1939 and the image on the box shows an old lady with a cup of chocolate,” he said. “The chocolate comes in wheel-like tablets, and the chocolate has sugar already—it’s like granulated chocolate in a tablet.”

Martinez said he doesn’t drink it all the time—even if he has all the ingredients at home or at one of the restaurants.

“It has to be special—either with the family or friends,” he said. “Both of my kids—Ricky Jr., who is 8, and Maggie, who is 5—love this hot chocolate with marshmallows. She is addicted to it.”

And, whether she realizes it yet or not, Maggie is carrying on family tradition.

“For me when it comes to food and drinks it has to be like love at first sight,” Martinez said. “You have to

fall in love with what you see in order to enjoy it. But, it’s even better when it comes with memories.”

Click the links below to get the recipes for the hot chocolates described above.

Mayan Mocha Dry Mix

Bonfire Mocha

Chocolate Mexicano

Chris Bavender is a freelance writer in South Broad Ripple with more than 20 years’ experience as a print and broadcast journalist. Follow her on Twitter @crbavender and Instagram @chris_bavender.

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