Several years ago, I was introduced to the concept of brewing chocolate when I read about Cabaret Brewed Chocolate in a magazine. Seduced by the description of brewed, whole, raw cacao beans blended with evaporated cane juice to produce a thick liquid the consistency of maple syrup, I quickly purchased a jar online. The label recommended mixing two teaspoons of the syrup in one cup of hot water as an alternative to coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, adding milk, if desired. I prepared a cup and was…disappointed.
My favorite online review of the product listed one of the cons as, “Misleading expectation of decadence.” Many reviewers commented that the brew tasted like weak chocolate tea, instead of the rich cocoa flavor they were expecting. To my palate, it was surprisingly tangy with a slight chocolate overtone. I put it on a shelf and didn’t touch it for a couple of weeks, until one night when I was craving something sweet and made another cup, doubling the amount of syrup and adding a little milk. This time, I enjoyed it and ended up drinking it over the next few weeks until the jar was empty. A while later, I decided to place an order again when I found that the product had been discontinued. My adventures with brewed chocolate were over almost before they had begun.
Years later, my friend Ray—a fellow chocolate enthusiast—alerted me to a new brewed chocolate product he’d discovered called Choffy. Following a similar process as that for producing coffee, cacao beans are roasted, ground, and sealed in 12 oz. bags. The product looks and brews just like coffee. To prepare Choffy, the company recommends using a French press, but any method for making a cup or pot of coffee will get the job done.
Now, I know why they chose the name, obviously: Chocolate + Coffee = Choffee → Choffy. But that word. It’s a lot to take. However, nothing so trivial as word aversion will deter a true chocoholic searching for a new angle, so I ordered a bag. This time, with no false illusions about brewed chocolate, I liked it. That tangy quality is still there, but the chocolate flavor is much more pronounced. I also enjoy the flexibility of making a weak or strong brew and choosing my own sweetener. I have not yet developed an appreciation for “black” Choffy, so I usually add milk and always sweeten the pot (or cup).
Choffy comes in five varieties: Ivory Coast, IC Dark, La Española, Volta, and Volta Dark. Ivory Coast is the original and classic Choffy, while La Española is recommended for coffee lovers. I prefer the IC Dark for its bold flavor, although I usually purchase a variety set containing all three grinds. Volta and Volta Dark are Choffy’s newest flavors, and I haven’t had the opportunity to try them yet, but they are described as “exceptionally rich” and smooth. Whichever bag I grab, the first thing I do before making a cup is to stick my face in the opening and inhale. The heady aroma of roasted, ground cacao beans never fails to give me a lift.
I’m not gonna lie to you, though: brewed chocolate is an acquired taste. At least, it was for me. It doesn’t have the familiar flavor of hot chocolate, nor does it taste anything like coffee. So what makes it a Sip Worthy Of Our Notice? For one thing, it has an intriguing and unusual profile for those who desire something different. The theobromine in cacao is a gentler stimulant than caffeine, so it makes a nice alternative to coffee for people who want to reduce their intake. As a nightcap, the brew is lighter than hot cocoa and satisfies a chocolate craving without adding a lot of calories.
If you’re a chocolate lover, you’ll definitely want to add brewed chocolate to your repertoire. You may not switch to “Choffy” as your safe word, but if you want to make the switch from coffee, tea, or hot chocolate to a stimulating substitute, Choffy is a safe bet.
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