The festival is an initiative that Meals on Wheels, a non-profit organization that targets the issue of poverty and hunger, organizes to raise funds to subsidize its client meal fees.
Meals on Wheels hopes to raise $15,000 this year.
To help reach this goal, participating cafés, restaurants and chocolatiers create a special, signature hot chocolate for this contest in hopes of earning the titles of Calgary’s Best Hot Chocolate and Calgary’s Best Spirited Hot Chocolate.
SAIT’s Odyssey Coffeehouse is participating for a second time, and this year it is competing with a Maple Bacon Hot Chocolate.
“We’re hoping to get a good response and get far in the competition,” said Alexandra Zarnowski, assistant operations manager at SAITSA.
In order to attract more students to buy the Odyssey’s drink, its staff is planning to use social media and in-house marketing as strategies.
The competition also recognizes the vendor with the Most Funds Raised Award to acknowledge its contribution.
“We participate for a great cause,” said Sarah Moss, a barista at Higher Ground Café on Kensington Road N.W., just west of 10A Street.
“Last year we won, and it was huge deal for us.”
In 2016, Higher Ground raised $1,263 with its signature Black Forest Hot Chocolate.
In February, the vendor is presenting a new hot treat, but details on the beverage are yet to be decided.
“All staff members will come up with ideas to decide what to do this year,” said Moss.
Once all the staff members agree on what they’re creating, Higher Ground will know if they’re competing in the regular hot chocolate category or in the spirited category.
Participating vendors agreed to donate $1 for every regular hot chocolate sold and $2 for every spirited hot chocolate sold.
Customers decide who wins in each category by rating the beverages online.
Last February, the competition lasted 29 days and 33 participants made 37 custom hot chocolates, selling more than 12, 500 cups combined.
Calgarians cast 2,400 votes and Meals on Wheels was able to subsidize 5,800 meals for its clients because of the $16, 104 raised for funds.
Euphoria Café, at 5403 Crowchild Trail N.W. in Dalhousie, is another vendor that is ready for this year’s competition.
In 2016, it got an honourable mention for raising $1,038 with its Bluebeary Hot Chocolate.
“More people know about it [the YYC Hot Chocolate Fest], so it’s more fun to be part of the competition,” said Matthew Osman, general manager at Euphoria Café.
“It’s important for us to support the community and give back to people.”
Euphoria Café has been participating in the festival for four years now.
This year, the coffee shop is preparing “something nice” for the competition.
At the moment, its new signature drink remains a secret until the competition begins.
The Calgary Stampeders played host to the official “inaugural sip” on Jan. 28 in the food court area of the Calgary Farmers Market.
This event included free hot chocolate samples from participating businesses.
For more information on the festival, visit yychotchocolate.com