With Valentine's Day just around the corner, it's the perfect time to let go of those New Year's resolutions--if you're like me, you've already let them go--and indulge in a little chocolate, whether to celebrate your happy relationship or your successful singledom. And while a box of chocolates is fine and good, everything is better with espresso.
Courtesy of Cupcake Royale's Facebook page.
A great mocha should be a special treat. I'm just going to put this out there: nonfat milk is an affront to good espresso. If you're going to splurge, both calorically and financially, on a mocha, go with the full-fat whole milk. Get the whipped cream. Enjoy yourself. Order one of these:Cupcake Royale's Deathcake Mocha
Cupcake Royale has really capitalized on the Deathcake branding: the annual Valentine's release of their chocolatiest cake--it's really more like a truffle--is commemorated with sweatshirts and bumper stickers bearing a cupcake and crossbones. This year, the cafe has added a Deathcake mocha to their seasonal repertoire. Like the cake itself, it's incredibly over the top (in a mostly good way), featuring twice the amount of Theo ganache as the regular mocha. The result is more hot chocolate with Stumptown espresso rather than latte with chocolate--good for anyone who doesn't care for coffee. Though if you don't care for coffee, you're likely not reading this, are you?
There are not one but seven mochas on Dilettante's menu, providing a sliding scale that ranges from the very bitter to the very sweet. On one end you've got the white mocha that uses pure cocoa butter and cream and vanilla--the sweetest of the bunch. On the other end is my personal favorite, the extra dark mocha, using 72-percent cacao chocolate from the Ivory Coast and Columbia, melted down into an elixir that is barely sweet but entirely addictive. If chocolate is an aphrodisiac, this is the mocha you want.
A place that specializes in sipping chocolate is a logical place to order a mocha, and it only helps that the espresso served is the award-winning Bonsai Blend from Velton's Coffee. The house-blended Venezuelan Black (using 65-percent dark chocolate) truly lets the thick, caramel-like espresso sing, though there's a sweeter, milkier version called the European Classic. If you prefer your mocha a little more subtle, ask them to go easy on the chocolate so it doesn't overwhelm the enjoyable essence of coffee in the drink.
For a twist on the classic, fans of Cuban coffee head to El Diablo, a colorful Queen Anne cafe where the cafe con mocha is made with spiced Ibarra chocolate. You'll see Ibarra as a Mexican mocha occasionally on menus, but El Diablo does it right--on its own, Ibarra is cloying and overly cinnamon-y, but the cafe uses just enough to create a delicate sweet-spicy balance when paired with milk and Tony's Coffee's espresso. When there, I prefer the cortadito, though the Latin-inspired mocha is a nice variation.
I wrote once before (and it still holds true) that Caffe Fiore's Sevilla is a masterful creation of espresso, milk, dark chocolate, and a simple curl of orange zest. A friend the other day told me she found such an orange mocha at another cafe--I insisted Fiore was doing it first. I don't generally gravitate towards mochas, but when the mood strikes, this is the first place I go. It's even great over ice. My only critique is that the zest curl almost always gets wedged in the little spout of my to-go cup, though I consider that a necessary inconvenience.
Owner Julie Kloss is something special--she's turned a tiny bike shop/cafe hybrid into a worthy destination for both roadies and caffeine junkies. It helps that everything here is made from scratch, from the muffins and cookies to the sauces that go in caramel lattes and chocolate mochas. At Dutch Bike Co., the drinks are made with Lighthouse beans--while the mocha is great on its own, it's particularly delicious (and indulgent) when paired with one of Julie's legendary salted chocolate chip cookies.
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