Coffee and chocolate go together very well because they share many of the same flavors – from notes of nuts and berries at first taste to a citrusy or smoky lingering finish. The two are often combined in sweetened coffee drinks, but it is rare to see them together when no sweetening elements are involved. Trader Joe’s Coffee á Cocoa is an exception that immediately caught my interest (and my eye, since I love the packaging). It’s a new product from TJ’s and is made with a blend of arabica coffee and unsweetened cocoa. It is not sweetened in any way and it is definitely not a mocha or hot chocolate type of product. The idea behind the product is to infuse some of the richer notes from the chocolate into the coffee, creating a coffee with a unique flavor profile – not an alternative to a perfectly made mocha latte.
The coffee is preground, so it is easy to measure out to make drip coffee or a french press. I used a french press to make my first pot, but the flavors come through quite well with a regular drip (and a pourover is a great option, too). The coffee has a very appealing nutty aroma that reminded me strongly of a chocolate covered peanut butter cup, if you could find one filled with freshly roasted peanuts. When you take a sip, you definitely taste both the medium bodied coffee and the cocoa, which combine for a fairly mellow, smooth cup of coffee with notes of bittersweet cocoa and, again, roasted nuts. It’s not particularly complex, but it is very enjoyable and easy to drink. The place where you will most notice the cocoa is in the finish, which is long and leaves you with a rich hint of chocolate.
This isn’t going to be my new go-to cup of coffee, but it’s very interesting and great for a change of pace. It takes milk and sugar very well – they bring out the cocoa notes a bit more – and you could easily use it for the base of any mocha drink just to further highlight the bittersweet notes of any other chocolate you add.