I L.O.V.E. hot chocolate and during our Melbourne trip in May I discovered a complete new level of chocolate drinks. We went all in for hot and cold chocolates. So nerdy! So yummy! And so so lovely! Melbourne is known for its cafes and is considered one of the best coffee cities in the world at least according to CNN (April 2017) and BBC (April 2014). However you might not anticipate them on being great at teas and hot chocolates as well. But as a matter of fact they are and as a true hot chocolate purist I couldn’t do more than love this city.
In all honesty going out for a hot chocolate in Sweden is kind of boring since there’s nothing to choose from and the few available options are lacking in flavor, are far too watery, far too sweet and overpriced. You better make your own chocolate; simply because it tastes thousand times better. Unless you’re living in Melbourne, because in this town they truly know their hot chocolates. I was amazed over their chocolate drinks and there were two places in particular that caught my attention – Mörk and Koko Black. Even coffee shops and cafes have really nice hot chocolate in this southern Australian town. The Hardware Societe is one such example; they served their hot chocolate with a generous knob of ganach which made it very rich and flavorful.
But let’s focus on my two favorite spots; Mörk and Koko Black. I would give Koko Black four out of five stars and Mörk will get six out of five, because that place were truly exceptional.
At Mörk they serve things made out of dark chocolate. The drinks are definitely their specialty and what they’re most known for but you can also choose from a carefully selected range of chocolate bakes and truffles.
Mörk got that thing; the thing that just makes them stand out from the rest of the crowd. The thing that makes your visit oh so special and memorable. They’ve created an ambiance which is hard to put your finger on but leaves you with such a nice feeling. Personally I think it’s the consideration about every single little detail that makes it so unique. Everything from the menu, the interior and the friendly staff… it’s perfection. The staff possesses lots of knowledge, they devote time and love to every single guest and they thoroughly present all the items on the menu with such passion.
There are about 15 drinks to choose from, some of them are set and others will change over the seasons. In other words more hot drinks in the winter and chilled ones in the summer. There are also some water based- and dairy free drinks like Cocoa Soda and hot chocolate made out of coconut- and almond milk. You won’t even find a drink without chocolate! No coffee, no tea, no juice and no soft drinks. That’s my cup of tea or maybe I should say chocolate 🙂
We actually went here twice on our journey to Australia just because we wanted to experience as many items from the menu as possible. Yep… we are in sincere love with Mörk! All in all we tried six different chocolates and every one of them had it’s own unique character. Their signature Campfire Hot Chocolate, was magnificent and the drink that I liked the most. It contained house made torched marshmallow, smoke that was trapped underneath a glass (I cant remember what kind of chip they used but of course they had put a lot of thought into creating the perfect smoke), some smoked salt and their signature hot chocolate. Talk about spot on flavors! The sweetness from the marshmallow the earthy and bitter notes from the chocolate, the salty vibes and the smoke that just sat there in the background giving the drink a nice body! The way it was displayed just makes it even better; it was a show and the hot chocolate was the star.
We also tried Dark Milk and River Salt, one of their classic hot chocolates; no frills, no show just a cup of really nice chocolate wit a hint of salt. Another one was their Breakfast Chocolate made with oat- and coconut milk (one of the dairy free options). If I should be perky this one was a bit too bitter and could have benefited by just a tiny pinch of sugar. But on the other side the coconut milk and the addition of cardamom gave it a mellow taste and a warm feeling. So all in all a good chocolate.
The Malt & Vanilla Chilled Chocolate was a innovative way of serving chocolate. The sweet tones from vanilla and caramel were perfectly matched with bitter and earthy tones from malt and chocolate. It was nice having the crunchy texture from the malt meringue paired with the other components; it became like a pleasant mix between a chocolate drink and a dessert.
I fancy creamy chocolates but when we saw their water based Chocolate Soda we couldn’t say no. So innovative! Who knew you could make a sparkling drink out of coca beans? Since both I and Stefan are embracing new flavors and experiences we just had to try this one out. It tasted cocoa but in a liquid, bubbling kind of way. The bitter notes and the earthy cocoa flavor gave it so much body. I bet it would go well with a rustic stew. It wasn’t the best drink I’ve had but maybe that’s just because it was completely different from every drink I ever tried before. But I would definitely give it a go once again if I got the chance because I think it has the potential to grow on you.
Stefan’s favorite chocolate and the last one we could stand before being too gorged was a The Layered Chocolate with a cold chocolate drink base topped with a warm orange custard. A true delicacy and a divining end to our visit at Mörk. I love the fact that the drink sort of was mad in diversion from what you would expect; a chilled drink and warm topping. The slightly bitter, rich chocolate paired with sweet, spicy, fruity (orange) and fluffy custard was nothing else than pure perfection.
If you want something to thew on they also have a few but carefully selected pralines and other chocolate creations such as chocolate peanut balls to munch on. The fact that there isn’t too much to chose from might seem odd to some people but I see it as a quality sign. It means that they put a lot of love, care and thought into what they serve. I rather choose from a small selection of goods with high quality and excellent flavors rather than a big and mediocre one.
Koko Black has several stores in Melbourne. The one we went to are located on 167 Lygon Street in Carlton and is opened until 11 or 12 pm depending on the day of the week (you can’t complain about the opening hours)! It felt a bit naughty going there at dinner time and just indulge in chocolate instead of proper food. But that’s what we did!
The first thing you run into when entering the door is a long disk filled with assorted chocolates in different flavors, colors and shapes. To me it felt like being in a luxurious cafe in Paris. Honestly I only been to one French coffee chop so I don’t have much to compare with, but this is how I imagine it would look like – lots of dark wood, cozy lightning and a feeling of extravagance.
In comparison to Mörk, Koko Black has a less creative drink list but on the other hand they had a lot of pralines and desserts to choose from. They also serve coffee and other kind of non-chocolaty drinks for those who want their cafe latte, flat white, earl grey or what not. Concerning the chocolate drinks they had their own brew of regular hot chocolate, they also served flavored ones with for example chili, orange and cinnamon. It may seem as safe cards, but those flavor combinations are known for a reason. The option that caught my interest the most was the hazelnut hot chocolate. Stefan took a chilled chocolate with salted caramel and vanilla ice cream. We also shared a tasting chocolate platter which was meant for one but was so huge it could have served a whole company. One thing is for sure; you can’t complain about leaving this place hungry!
The hazelnut hot chocolate looked amazing with a nice spider web pattern on the top (hot chocolate art instead of coffee art – nice!). The chilled one was served with a straw in a glass with a big scope of ice cream and a drizzle of salted caramel. I loved mine – it was rich, with just the right amount of hazelnut flavor and a well balanced sweetness. Stefan’s was also good but it was a bit bland. The chocolate drink base was probably just about perfect when it was brewed and hot but things are happening when food and drinks are chilled. The flavors won’t appear in the same way and that’s most likely the reason for why we experienced it as if it was lacking a bit in richness. The feeling of when you sipped in a generous heaping of salted caramel was really nice though. It might sound like a lot of criticism but it’s just because I’m nerdy and consider every little attribute. It’s important though that the criticism is constructive, saying that something is bad/boring is not the right way to go. But all in all it was a nice drink.
The dessert degustation platter contained chocolate in many different shapes and flavors. The chocolate ice cream was gorgeous, it was smooth, rich and just mega perfect. There was also a slice of their seven layered chocolate cake, a velvety smooth chocolate mousse, those round things with caramelized nuts on top (they had a fancy name which I can’t come up with right now, but see the picture and you’ll know what I mean), and pralines – of course. And we were served sparkling water to cleanse our pallets between each component on the plate. All in all a nice dessert platter with some miner flaws.
At Queen Victorias Market we found some Koko Black chocolate bars with super innovative flavors. We simply couldn’t resist buying the one with salt and truffle. They were generous with both the sea salt and the truffle without masking the mellow flavor from the milk chocolate. Such an interesting combination but oh so nice!
Just as a reminder; both of these places changes their menu regular so the items that were served when we were there might have changed. Never the less it’s the quality of the things that they serve that matters the most and both Koko Black and Mörk know what they’re doing! They use the best produce and put thought, time and love into everything they do. In other words you’re guaranteed great flavors regardless of which of these places you decide to give a visit.