Today is the first time since I was a teenager that I’ve visited Toronto. Really it is my first time in Toronto since last time I arrived at the train station, went up the CN tower, came back down, got back into a train and kept going. This time I arrived with two days to spend in Toronto, with cool fall weather, a list of hot chocolates to try and a big smile on my face; Lets go! We landed, checked in and hopped on a tram straight to THE Toronto hot chocolate, Soma Chocolate. It seems that whoever you ask in Toronto will direct you to the same spot. This is where you get your hot chocolate in Toronto.
Not surprisingly, I fell in love with Soma too. Where do I start. The location in the Distillery District of Toronto is perfect. The brick building with high ceilings houses both their chocolate store as well as their mini factory. Their chocolates are made in small batches directly from cacao beans right on site and once you walk inside you can watch the machines grinding and the chocolate masters creating. Their website talks of a secret cacao bean lab where they are taking out all their vintage chocolate making machines to start refurbishing them into working condition. Luckily for us the secret lab doesn’t seem to be so secret. Behind large glass windows you can see some of these machines in action surrounded by plastic containers filled with cocoa beans and nibs, mostly fairtrade, organic chocolate of Criollo and Trinitario and Nacional varieties, Forasteros from Kuapa Kakoo coop in Ghana as well as crops from Papua New Guinea and the Dominican Republic.
It was raining when we arrived, well, not just raining, but pouring. We were cold and soaked and tired and couldn’t have been more ready for a hot chocolate, any hot chocolate. Luckily the options here are easy. I wanted their Mayan Hot Chocolate, rich melted dark chocolate made with chili peppers, cinnamon, ginger, Madagascar vanilla, orange peel and secret spices which can be served with milk or water or as a shot. We ordered it with milk
At first, I’ll admit, we were a little disappointed with the Soma hot chocolate. The complexity promised was not quite there. It was more subtle than I thought it would be. So we easily finished up our mugs of hot chocolate (it was still delicious) and decided to try again since it was still cold and raining outside. We went up and ordered another round of their Spicy Mayan hot chocolate but this time in shot form, without the milk. These were perfect. With every sip you could feel the different spices dancing around on the roof of your mouth (it was a Friday night after all). We were so fascinated by it we even started drawing out what it tasted like. Basically the first sip was sweet with citrus notes, then it would build up slowly but steadily and you would get the moderate kick of chili. That kick would linger a little, bringing out the ginger. Then as quickly as it started, it would slowly start to dissipate at which point another sip was required to start the roller coaster ride all over again. We both loved every sip of our little shot and have the diagrams to prove it.
What we didn’t try, but probably should have, was their gelato. Despite the wet and cold weather outside there were more people coming in to try their obviously incredible home made gelato using local ingredients sourced by nearby farms than for their delicious hot chocolate. I guess it was technically still summer in Toronto, which the locals need to enjoy while it lasts!
Thank you to all of you who insisted that I visit Soma while in Toronto. You weren’t wrong. Fantastic spot.
Verdict: All of their hot chocolates are also available in powdered mix to bring home (including a few extra flavours not on the board). They also have a new location on King Street in downtown Toronto. Soma, 32 Tank House Lane, Toronto, Ontario, Canada