Lower Hutt’s beloved Sweet As Hot Chocolate Challenge features an entirely sustainable creation this year, complete with an edible, compostable cup.
The challenge returns for its seventh year, with 15 cafes from the Lower Hutt city centre participating.
Fellow Café owner Laurissa Russ has participated in every challenge since the beginning in 2015, but this year, she’s bringing something special to the table.
The ‘Twiice As Nice’ beverage is an oat milk hot chocolate topped with a dairy-free whipp, marshmallow, oreo, biscoff crumb and drizzle, all in a plant-based edible cup.
Russ said her café has a lot of customers that want to use their own cups or containers, which they encourage by not offering takeaway cups.
Described as akin to a fortune cookie, the cup will break down if customers choose not to eat it – and it comes in compostable packaging.
Hutt City Council city centre lead Cyndi Christensen created the hot drink challenge in 2015 to liven up the CBD and get people out of their homes during winter.
Christensen said she simply googled ‘things to do in winter’ and came across hot chocolate festivals in Canada and thought ‘we can do that’.
Hot chocolates are an easily accessible product, and she discovered there is huge interest in the beverage.
Over the past six years, more than 65 unique hot chocolates have been created by around 34 cafes in Lower Hutt, drawing in visitors to the region.
People can’t wait for it, said Christensen. People even take days off work so they can spend the day sippin’ hot chocolates.
Christensen said she didn’t anticipate the social activity the challenge would stir up. Instead of people ordering takeaway, they come in and sit, which livens up the space and the streets.
Among the contenders are a Russian Fudge Fix, Candied Unicorn, Macadamia Treasure Chest, and Christensen’s particular favourite, the Whoopie Pie Gingerbread.
Customers can vote for their favourite hot chocolate’s through the new paperless system – one point for ‘yeah, nah’, two for ‘sweet’, and three for ‘sweet as.’