Coffee and chocolate are a great flavor-pairing. Some might even call it a true beverage love story.
To today’s coffee drinker, their marriage may seem like it was always meant to be. But growing up half a world apart, simply meeting took centuries.
Like a classic movie, for coffee and chocolate to truly connect they’d first need to make a memorable trip to Europe.
Though they originated far from each other, coffee and chocolate both come from the tropics.
Chocolate was born Central America, where it was appreciated as a beverage by Mayan and Aztecs millennia ago. Hernan Cortez was one of the first Europeans to truly encounter this, famously watching Montezuma consume 50 cups of chocolate in 1519. In it’s single days, this drinking chocolate was spicy and not sweet – a far cry from what modern consumers might expect. It was only once it traveled to Spain that it began mellowing and looking to settle down.
Coffee hails from Ethiopia, with a history well-known to most coffee drinkers. Though it’s single days were notably less raucous (it never hung out with spicy chiles) it did cause such a stir upon its arrival in Venice in the early 17th century that Pope Clement VIII was asked to step in and smooth things over.
Meet me in Italy
One well-documented early meeting of coffee and chocolate was in Italian city of Turin (Piedmont). As early as 1678, residents there began combining sweet, rich drinking chocolate and brewed coffee with cream in a drink called the bavareisa. With this, we finally find coffee, chocolate, sugar, and cream being sipped from the same glass. The rest, as they say, is history.
There are two other notable Italian drinks which famously combine coffee and chocolate. A later refinement of the bavareisa separated out the ingredients into layers, becoming the more well-known bicerin.
Then, with the advent of the espresso machine came the marocchino: espresso and frothy steamed milk with a heavy dusting of cocoa powder, though some variations used thick hot chocolate or even nutella. This brought us even closer to the current form of this beverage romance…
The Caffe Mocha
In the modern American café, if you want a hot drink with espresso, milk, and chocolate, you’ll likely order a Caffe Mocha. This espresso cafe menu staple can be viewed as either a caffe latte with the addition of chocolate sauce OR as hot chocolate with a shot of espresso.
Why the name mocha? While it’s not clear who was the first to refer to coffee and steamed chocolate milk by this name, the name mocha has been synonymous with coffee since it’s earliest days. The first arabica coffees to be exported outside of their native soils shipped through the Yemeni port of Mocha. Perhaps the name was meant to evoke the sometimes-chocolatey characteristics of Yemeni coffee?
There are many ways to create a Caffe Mocha.
The most common method begins with a portion of chocolate sauce or ganache in the bottom of a mug or cup. The desired portion of espresso is then pulled or poured directly on top.
Since it’s a variation on a caffe latte, microfoam steamed milk is tasty and appropriate. Unlike espresso and thinner flavoring syrups, however, thick chocolate sauces require a little coaxing to mix with the rest of the drink. A quick stir with whisk or barspoon should be sufficient.
If being served in an open-topped vessel, we recommend stirring the sauce and brewed espresso before adding steamed milk. This allows the barista to pour latte art before serving. If whipped cream will be added or the drink will be taken to-go, the barista may choose to pour the milk before stirring.
Other approaches involve steaming milk and chocolate together and then pouring this hot chocolate directly onto brewed espresso. This method is ideal when the chocolate being used is either tiny chocolate chips or a powder mix. As long as proper steamwand hygiene is observed there’s little risk to the espresso machine. The presence of additional sugars and chocolate particles will interfere with the milk’s foaming capabilities.
With so many choices of drinking chocolates, there are a few considerations when choosing a chocolate for use in a caffe mocha. Like most coffee drinks, a well-made mocha should represent a harmonious balance of flavors and textures with all drink components playing their part. The flavors of the coffee and chocolate should compliment each other with both being present in the finished drink. Sweetness should be sufficient to balance the bitterness of chocolate and coffee without being cloying. We recommend trying caffe mochas made with several different chocolates and coffees to find your preferred pairing.
Want to learn more about which chocolates might help you find true beverage love? Call us at 866 849 1682 and ask to speak to the coffee and chocolate experts at Dilworth Coffee. We’d love to help!