5 Best Hot Chocolate Spots in Des Moines, Iowa

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5 Best Hot Chocolate Spots in Des Moines, Iowa

The beginning of fall and winter means it’s time to get cozy and relax with your favorite hot chocolate. Hot chocolate is easily a special treat and there are many places in Des Moines, Iowa where chocolate lovers can grab a warm cup of goodness. Many local restaurants or the local coffee shop can whip up this signature drink, but where is the best place?

My sons and I tried a variety of places that are popular around the metro, and these 5 spots made our list of best hot chocolate in Des Moines, Iowa.

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Best spot for a variety of flavors of hot chocolate: La Barista Coffee

Address: 1963 Grand Avenue West Des Moines, IA 50266

La Barista is a cozy coffee shop with a hometown feel. It reminds me of the coffee shop where I attended college in Lamoni, Iowa where everyone knew each other, and you were always greeted with a smile.

La Barista has a drive-thru but inside is bar seating and wooden tables and chairs. It’s the kind of place you can feel relaxed and when I visited a few ladies were playing dominoes in the corner.

They have a bigger selection of hot chocolate choices than I typically see including milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and Mexican hot chocolate all topped with whipped cream. You can also add flavors like a toasted marshmallow. While they don’t have a kid’s hot chocolate on the menu, you can request a lower temperature.

I ordered a Mexican hot chocolate and enjoyed the hints of cinnamon and almond. My 4-year-old ordered dark hot chocolate, which was rich hot chocolate and creamy. La Barista is also known for its homemade cinnamon rolls and breakfast burritos with Graziano sausage. Get there early to try the cinnamon rolls as they sell out fast.

Note: For those with balance/mobility issues, be careful going in/out of the building as the doorway is a few inches above the ground. My 1-year-old fell coming out.

Kid reviews:

4-year-old: “I love this hot chocolate! It’s so good!”

1-year-old: “More.”

Best spot for Mexican Hot Chocolate: Café con Leche

Address: 2905 Hubbell Avenue Des Moines, IA 50317

Café con Leche is a Mexican-inspired café serving breakfast and lunch. They are popular for their chilaquiles dish and numerous coffee drinks including a Horchata Latte. We enjoyed their breakfast and ordered the Chocolate Abuelita made with Mexican chocolate and cinnamon. It’s richer and more flavorful than regular hot chocolate due to the spices and has more of a creamy consistency. It’s the perfect drink to warm you up on a cool day and pairs great with their donuts and other pan dulce (sweet bread). There is not a kid-size, and it comes very full so make sure to let it cool down and drink a bit from the top before sharing it with kids.

Kid (and husband) reviews:

4-year-old: Hesitant to try it due to its cinnamon flavor. After he took a sip, he said “Yep! I love it!”

1-year-old: *Nods head yes. *

Husband: “It tastes like home!” (Like his Abuela made). Then he got another one to go!

Best spot for Classic Hot Chocolate: The Coffeesmith 

Address: 770 SE Alice’s Road Waukee, IA 50263

The Coffeesmith is a coffee shop aiming to provide more than just coffee but also to promote community by sharing warm drinks together. It is regularly referred to as one of the best coffee shops in the Des Moines area with the highest quality products. They also sell adorable wooden earrings and pastries. They are known for their Pablo Honey drink, which is espresso with cinnamon, a hint of honey, and milk. I enjoyed this drink and it’s the perfect beverage for fall without being too sweet.

The hot chocolate is made with chocolate and steamed milk topped with fluffy whipped cream. It’s a great classic hot chocolate and came topped with a frosted animal cracker. Ask for a kid’s temperature so it’s not too hot.

Kid reviews:

4-year-old: “So good! I like this!”

1-year-old: *Whipped cream mustache and ate the animal cookie while nodding his head. *

Best spot for hot chocolate with whipped cream: Zanzibar’s Coffee Adventure

Address: 2723 Ingersoll Avenue Des Moines, IA 50312

I grew up in Portland, Oregon, and when I stepped into Zanzibar’s it reminded me of home. The potted plants, bags of coffee beans from all over the world, and fresh air through the open doorways, look cool yet unpretentious and is the perfect place to gather. The woman that waited on me was so friendly and helpful and another barista even remembered a little girl’s order. My sons enjoyed watching the large coffee grinder while they made our drinks.

The Cafe Zanzíbar is one of their popular drinks consisting of a latte with steamed milk, whipped cream, cinnamon, chocolate, and nutmeg sprinkles. It was deliciously creamy with a great flavor and not too sweet. I’ve heard their steamed scrambled eggs are as fluffy as clouds and I plan to return to try their breakfast. Ask for a kid’s temperature hot chocolate and you can also get a smaller size which is nice, so your child doesn’t get on a total sugar high. My boys already have enough energy! The hot chocolate was topped with lots of fluffy whipped cream and chocolate on top. I can’t say a lot about the flavor because this time my 4-year-old didn’t want to share his delicious drink.

Kid reviews:

4-year-old: *No words because he was busy downing the whole cup. *

1-year-old: *Took a few sips but was happily distracted by the bags of coffee beans, plants, and wall art.*

Best spot for hot chocolate and breakfast: Cafe Diem

Address: 2005 S Ankeny Blvd Suite 800 Ankeny, IA 50023

Cafe Diem has two locations in Ankeny and two in Ames. We visited the Ankeny location across from the DMACC campus. It’s comfortable and inviting both for families and students/professionals to study and work. However, I felt nervous when my kids spoke too loudly as a few people were studying.

They have an entire list of hot chocolate flavors including French vanilla, caramel, hazelnut, milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate, lavender, salted caramel, and seasonal (spice and maple spice). My 4-year-old chose dark hot chocolate which was rich but not too sweet. You can add whipped cream and they served it at the perfect warm temperature for kids. I want to go back to try the other flavors!

Cafe Diem is known for their breakfast sandwiches, so I ordered a croissant sandwich which came with thick-cut crispy bacon, fresh eggs, and a delicious zesty aioli. My boys split their breakfast plate of eggs, sausage, thick-cut toast, and hash browns. We loved the hot chocolate and the breakfast equally and would return for both. My boys are both in the picky eating stage so the fact that they both enjoyed everything says a lot!

Kid reviews:

4-year-old: “I love this!” And he didn’t even order it with whipped cream this time, so you know the flavor was good.

1-year-old: “Too busy waving at another baby and eating all the hash browns to try the hot chocolate.”

While you watch the leaves turn color and the snowfall, keep warm with a warm mug of hot chocolate from one of these 5 spots for the best hot chocolate in Des Moines, Iowa.

Whitney Alaniz, MOT OTR/L

Whitney Alaniz, MOT OTR/L

Whitney Alaniz, MOT OTR/L is an occupational therapist turned (mostly) stay-at-home mom. She has worked with adults to young toddlers and has a special interest in early childhood development targeting fine motor skills, feeding, sensory processing, and coordination. She loves incorporating this knowledge with her own two little boys through play. When she’s not running after her little ones she enjoys traveling, cooking new recipes and eating chocolate from her secret stash.

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