In my quest for the most fabulous cup hot chocolate in the Bay Area, I've tried a bunch of places: Bittersweet, Lulu Rae, Cafe Madeleine, Coupa, etc. But I got the best *two* cups so far this weekend at CocoaBella, on Union Street near Webster.
Being a fan of the Chuao Spicy Maya chocolate, I ordered a cup of the "dark and spicy" chocolate from Cherie, the woman who runs the hot drinks counter at the back of the store. Instead of pulling out a premade mix, which is what you get at Lulu Rae and Coupa, she blended me a single serving from some very good-looking raw ingredients right there while I watched. She scooped out some dark chocolate, added dashes of hot pepper (I think), cinnamon, nutmeg, honey, and then steamed a blend of cream and milk. It was a wonderful balance of flavors, spicy and sweet but not too sweet. Turns out that Cherie is a graduate of the Culinary Institute and justifiably proud of her original recipes, all of which she developed for the store.
My friend was so impressed that he insisted we also try the "Chocolate Lava." I was skeptical that any hot chocolate could justify a $6 price tag for a 5-oz cup, but this stuff was pretty intense -- sort of like a liquid ganache.
CocoaBella in general runs a bit steep compared with some other local chocolatiers, but the hot chocolate is absolutely worth the price. If you're anywhere near Cow Hollow, stop in and see Cherie.
Here's a link to the store for hours and such: