Chocolate and coffee: the world's most beloved addictions. Put them together and you've got the wonderful blend that has come to be referred to as mocha coffee. It's an any-time-of day drink - it can get you started in the morning, keep you warm on a chilly afternoon, or enjoy it with a little whipped cream on top as a dessert. (Well, okay, it's an "any time of day except right before bed" drink, unless you use a decaf variety!)
Credit: Wikimedia CommonsMost people aren't aware that the association of the word "mocha" with chocolate is relatively recent. Mocha is the name of a port in Yemen from which beans from a specific type of small, round bean from a variety of Arabica bush harvested in Yemen and Ethiopia are shipped to the outside world. The beans from this port don't taste like chocolate, but they're usually referred to as "Mocha beans". This variety of coffee was widespread in the Arab world and one of the first to become popular in Europe.
The association of mocha with chocolate comes from the fact that this type of bean is often used to blend the strong Espresso-style drinks that are frequently loaded with milk or cream and flavored or topped with chocolate.
While you certainly can go the route of buying flavored syrups or creamers, or special beans - and I don't want to discourage folks from trying them, because their flavors can vary greatly from what you can make easily at home - mocha drinks are simple to make with ingredients you've probably already got lying around in a cupboard somewhere. Just grab some cocoa powder or a packet of hot chocolate mix! You can brew some coffee and mix the powder right in, or, as I like to do, mix it in with the coffee grinds in your brewer and infuse the flavor in your beverage without danger of those little floating un-mixed chunks!
Credit: Amazon.comFor those who don't want the added calories, ground flavored coffee beans are the way to go. The advantages of this method go beyond waistline-friendliness, though. They can be more convenient, especially for users of k-cup or other single-serving packages (though a refillable k-cup can get around some of the limitations of this kind of brewer for those who like to "customize" their coffee). There are also more exotic chocolatey tastes available this way - flavors like "mocha caramel", "white chocolate mocha", and "peppermint mocha".
Now I want some!
I finished writing this article just in time for dinner, but writing it has inspired a mocha craving. There's a small bag of white chocolate mocha beans purchased from a local farmer's market that's calling my name; dessert will be a steaming cup of that, topped with whipped heavy cream and sweetener - maybe with a light dusting of real chocolate on top! Care to join me?