Bittersweet Cafe 4/9/2011 Sunny Saturday
I heard about Bittersweet Cafe often, and planned to visit it long time ago. I finally did today.
Bittersweet cafe's Rockridge location is on 5427 College Ave., North Oakland. I took the College Ave exit from Highway 24. It's very easy to find. It is a small café, about 500-600 sq feet, and famous for their drinking chocolates. On a Saturday afternoon around 4:15pm, the store was crowded with people lining up for their drinks. Against the wall on one side, a row of shelves displays chocolates or chocolate-related goods from Vosges, Askinosie, Frans, Theo and Bittersweet pre-packaged chocolates and colorful Easter eggs. There are 4 tables by the front window that were all occupied at that time. A glass cabinet displaying their handmade chocolate truffles and pastries is in the back. Staffs make drinks to order behind this cabinet.
There were people reading and playing with their kids. Two girls were absorbed in their crafts. Every inches of space in the store is fully used. Drinking chocolates powder is available for purchase. Four flavors are available bittersweet, mocha, classic and milk chocolate. A 10oz packet sells for a little over $12 ($1 dollar cheaper than their online price.) Their handmade chocolate truffles are 1.95 each. If you are really serious about chocolates, you can purchase their tasting kit for about $25, which includes 3 packs of chocolates and a tasting guide. The guide recommends tasting the darkest chocolates first. I thought chocolate tasting is similar to wine tasting - taste the lightest first. I guess I am wrong.
It was time to pick my treats. I usually like 58% or higher dark chocolates. Unfortunately Bittersweet Café chocolates do not state the % of cocoa content for their handmade chocolates so I asked. The staff looked for the information but returned to say that he did not know and the owner was not around. Forget about the %, I got three of their handmade truffles: one piece of bittersweet (their signature), one piece of orange, and one piece of espresso. I also bought a pack of bittersweet of 78% Organic Venezuela dark chocolate. And, to complete my mission here, I ordered a cup of Bittersweet hot chocolate.
Sharing a table with the two girls who were doing crafts, I sat quietly for couple of seconds admiring the rich dark brown frothy drink in a creamy white china cup. The nice strong aroma of the bittersweet hot chocolate filled me up. I took a sip. Thick and rich chocolate flavor was the first sensation, sweet, bitter, and a little acidic, then follows by a sticky coating in my mouth. It was a little disappointing.
What disappointed me was that it had too much cocoa butter, or the cocoa butter and cacao mass are not perfectly bonded. That made the aftertaste waxy. I felt a layer of fat on my palate and it undercut the smoothness the way hot chocolate is supposed to be. After I finished my drink, the empty cup was covered with an oily layer of a brownish residue. My stomach started to feel bloated.
I did not want to dislike bittersweet hot chocolate. I was looking forward to it for a long time, and I heard people raved about it. Besides, bitter sweet dark chocolate is my all times favorite. I thought I would like any form of dark chocolate. Well, they has a wide variety of hot chocolates, I will try their spicy hot chocolate next time.
The next day, I tried the handmade truffles. The shell of the dark chocolate ganache truffle encased with cocoa powder was crisp with soft and smooth filling. The truffle orange garnished with a couple of small orange nuggets on the top has nice orange flavor with real orange bits. The 78% Organic Venezuela dark chocolate has beautiful prints of flowers and leafs on the surface. It was crisp and the bitterness and sweetness was just right.