The Hutt City Council run challenge saw 17 hospitality operators including cafes, restaurants, bars and a bakery in Lower Hutt create with their own signature hot chocolate drinks for people to enjoy over three weeks in July. Customers were given the chance to vote for their favourite drink by ballot or on Sweet As Hutt’s Hot Chocolate Facebook page.
Colab cafe, which partnered with Auckland-based social enterprise The Cookie Project, devised the country’s first and only edible cookie cup , and had a 300 per cent increase in sales from last year.
The drink proved so popular they ran out of cookie cups after the first weekend of the competition, and had to arrange for Air New Zealand to fly hundreds more cups down from Auckland to meet demand from customers who were streaming through the door. Mike Dawes, the new CEO of I AM HOPE, and a mum and daughter from the local Deaf community also drove down from Auckland with the cookie cups.
“We were completely blown away with the cup’s popularity; we sold 787 in the first three days and had no idea we were going to sell out, especially in such a short-time frame! Our amazing partners, The Cookie Project, were working around the clock making hundreds of cookie cups for us.
“To be crowned the winner of this year’s challenge is really humbling. It’s been a long and hard ride with months of preparation and planning to create this New Zealand first cup, and it’s a real testament to my wonderful staff and The Cookie Project who have put in the hard yards. None of this would have been achieved without a team effort.” said Claire Matheson, owner of Colab Cafe.
Coming in second place was Tutaki Cafe with Whero Berry Pop selling 1772 drinks and third place went to the Buzz café for the Buzz Hot Chocolate Bar which proved a real hit, especially with children.
The challenge, founded by the Hutt City Council as a way to inspire local cafes to be creative as well as draw people out to the CBD during winter, has had a record year according to founder and CBD Development Manager Cyndi Christensen.
“The challenge has really established itself and become a real hit for the Hutt Valley hospitality scene. It really does get bigger and better every year. The number of hot chocolates sold during the first four years of the challenge was around 15,000. This year alone, we have achieved almost 15,000. Now that is what I call success.
“We have had people from all over the wider Wellington region including visitors from Christchurch, Auckland and Gisborne come in droves to sample the creative range of signature drinks. More than 8,000 votes were cast this year, in comparison with 1,100 in 2018. Cafe owners claimed record sales and there were lines out the door in several situations. It’s just amazing.” Says Christensen.
The challenge may have ended, but seven cafes are continuing their entries for a limited time, or until they are sold out.
- Small Batch – The Nutty Singles
*served the same until sold out
- Coffix Lower Hutt – Mexican Hot Chocolate
*selling for a limited time
- Hot Gossip Cafe – All Whites
*selling simplified version without shredded coconut and macaroon
- Giuseppe’s – Chocagatto!
*served simplified without savoriardi biscuit, available for two weeks
- Cuff’s Cafe – Ooh La La
*selling until sold out
- Gotham – Pennyworth’s Rose Hot Chocolate
*serving simplified without melting moment
- Beforetime Express – Orange Storm
*on offer until SUMMER!
- Colab Cafe – The Cookie Cup
*due to the overwhelming popularity of the cookie cup, they cafe will be bringing them back but they won’t be alone, there are a range of new flavours and can be served with coffee as well as hot chocolate.