When you eat, and drink, as much good chocolate as I am lucky enough to eat, and drink, you lose patience very quickly for bad chocolate. I drink many, many more hot chocolates than I review here. The sad truth is that most are really not great (and the café owners then seem surprised that no one ever orders them, and then they make no effort because no one orders them and you have a chicken and egg scenario….).
When a Guylian Belgian Chocolate Café opened up on St. Georges Terrace the chocolate snob in me kicked in and I rolled my eyes for two reasons. First I find so many places around the world love to show off when they use Belgian chocolate but asked to elaborate and they have no idea what kind of chocolate it is, other than that it is from Belgian. Just because it is Belgian it doesn’t mean it is superior to all other chocolate. There is a lot of chocolate coming out of Belgian, some good, some bad. Pair the word Belgian with a franchise such as Guylian with shops popping up all over the place and I really didn’t have any grand plans to visit.
But in a moment of desperation one morning I walked in. I needed a hot chocolate before an early morning meeting I had just a block away. I then returned the next morning and the morning after. The reason? The hot chocolate at Guylian is actually quite nice.
Guylian is a company that started in 1958 by two founders, Guy and Liliane. They combined their names to create Guylian. Their claim to fame is the chocolates they offer that are in seashell shapes. When you order a hot chocolate you get one included with your drink. I loved my little seashell chocolate filled with praline. It made me smile like a kid receiving a little treat. They use beans from West African countries to make their chocolate and 100% cocoa butter. Randomly, especially given all of the sustainability challenges currently faced in the cocoa supply chain, they are quite proud of a conservation project that they are doing for seahorses and the ocean habitats they live in. Very cute and actually a really interesting and worthwhile project, but again, given they source from West Africa, there are a lot of important projects that should be done there, in particular with farmers.
This brings me to the hot chocolate. You get a choice between 4 hot chocolates. There is a coconut hot chocolate, a banana and caramel hot chocolate. Those seem more like desserts than hot chocolates to me and I stay far away from these. The peppermint hot chocolate is a good classic. I recommend sticking to their Guylian Hot Chocolate and go for either dark or praline, both were nice and rich and offered a good chocolate kick to get me ready for my meetings. They use their chocolate to make the hot chocolates (as one might assume). No powders in sight, which is nice, and the cocoa butter gives it a nice smooth finish.
Go early in the morning as I did and you get the whole place to yourself. The whole café is coated in rich chocolate coloured accents, wooden tables and leather benches. A long display of impossibly perfect looing chocolate desserts tempt you before you reach the cash. I watch as one by one people slowed down their pace as soon as they reached the display, pulled in almost like a tide. Given that the whole place is still nice and shiny and new the location feels a lot more welcoming and decadent itself than other Guylian cafes across Australia which are a bit more worn and tourist filled.
Verdict: I’ve tried the hot chocolates at many of the different Belgian/Swiss/French chains around the world and Guylian is my favourite of the lot. Plus the three mornings I enjoyed their hot chocolates before meetings ended up being three really good days. Hot chocolates will cost you AUD $7.50 (but you get almost two cups full with that). Guylian Café, 101 St Georges Terrace, Perth, Australia