Ever since I went to Spain last year, I’ve started to enjoy the occasional cup of coffee. Turns out the reason I didn’t like coffee before going to Spain was that I had only had bitter, instant-style American coffee. Freshly roasted and ground beans taste entirely different — mellow, almost sweet, and needing only a dash of good-quality cream to bring out their flavor. Overroasting doesn’t do the beans any favors; nor does pre-grinding them and letting them sit around for an undefined amount of time. Spanish-style coffee made me think of hot chocolate.
Lately, thinking about that combination of chocolate and coffee prompted me to make my own version of mocha. Most coffee shops use chocolate-flavored syrup to lend a cup of mocha a chocolate flavor, but I think you’re better off with the real deal: an actual square of good-quality dark chocolate. I used 85% in mine, but you could go as low as 70% if you’d like a sweeter beverage. I also added a teaspoon of maple sugar, a drizzle of vanilla, and of course a nice dollop of cream. The only warning? Once you’ve had mocha made with actual chocolate, you won’t want the syrup-tinged variety ever again. But that’s just yet another reason to make sure you always travel with a square or two of good chocolate!
To make 1/2 cup mocha, steep 1 tablespoon freshly ground coffee beans in 1/2 cup very hot water for 5 minutes. I like to make my coffee in a French press — it’s historical, takes up hardly any counter space, is energy-efficient, and is regarded by coffee purists as a good way to prepare coffee. It’s also the only kind of coffee maker I have.
While the coffee steeps, place a square of dark chocolate (between 70% to 85%) in your favorite coffee mug. Add 1 teaspoon maple sugar or maple syrup. Pour the steeped coffee into the mug and stir gently to melt the chocolate. When the chocolate is fully melted, stir in a dollop of cream and about 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. Savor immediately — don’t plan on reheating it. Reheating could scorch the chocolate and ruin the mocha. But see what I mean about how much better mocha tastes when made with actual chocolate?