Calgary woman sampling dozens of hot cocoas in YYC Hot Chocolate Fest in memory of late mother
Hot chocolate spiked with prosecco. Tiramisu-flavoured sips. Spicy hot beverages served with golden cookies.
Katie Klingvall has tried them all. Or at least, she's trying to, as the YYC Hot Chocolate Fest continues in Calgary.
It's something she and her mother, Gillian Klingvall, started doing about five years ago, getting lost as they searched for the city's best cup of cocoa. This year though, she's traveling around with just her mother's photo, continuing the tradition without her.
"She passed away in January, and this was our thing…. We would always share one," she said in an interview with The Homestretch Wednesday.
"I wanted to honour her in a way, and so it was great motivation and also, to a degree, distraction, of doing these many and taking her again on another adventure."
Klingvall has sampled 48 hot chocolates so far this year. She brings a framed picture of her mother to each location, snapping a new photo of her with each cup.
"It's nice because I take a moment to reflect on her and think about what she would have thought about it," she said.
The YYC Hot Chocolate Fest has run every February since 2011, bringing together more than 100 cafes throughout the city — and beyond — as they whip up their best chocolatey creations.
This year, there are more than 170 different drinks available, and customers can vote on their favourites.
LISTEN | Katie Klingvall describes the best hot chocolates she's sampled so far:
A few dollars from each purchase supports Calgary Meals On Wheels, which aims to supply nutritious, affordable meals to anyone who needs them.
Part of the reason why Klingvall and her mother enjoyed their tradition is because they supported the cause.
Klingvall says the most hot chocolates she's ever tried in a day is eight. Her mother drew the line at four.
"I mean, probably the amount that I've done, she'd say, like, good heavens, which I don't blame her … I will say I don't finish them all," she laughed.
"But it is going for a good cause with Calgary Meals on Wheels, [and] she was a very, very charitable person. She loved working with her community… she also loved doing this with me because she knew it went to charity."
Konnor Weed, event coordinator with Calgary Meals on Wheels, said he's heard of people travelling down from Edmonton to sample the frothy creations during the festival, or businesses taking a field trip during their lunch hour, but Klingvall might be their biggest fan.
"I'm very happy to hear that our festival can bring joy to somebody in a kind of rough patch in their life," he said. "Every little bit really does help us."
The organization is hoping to raise $100,000 by the end of the festival.
Klingvall is doing her part, but she said she doesn't think she'll be able to logistically, or physically, test every hot chocolate available.
It's neat though to see all of the different places and unique drinks, a part of the adventure she and her mother loved.
"There's so many smaller independent shops that are part of this," she said. "They're fantastic, and they give their heart and soul into creating these beautiful hot chocolates."
By the end of the month, Klingvall said she's usually ready to not see another cup of hot cocoa for the rest of the year.
Still, she's enjoying the journey.
"I would like to keep going because it was something we did together."