The Search for the Best Mocha in South Bend

Coffee, a classic american beverage made from beans and water. Coffee is generally drunken warm and is typically caffeinated, supplying all of its drinkers with energy. However, coffee can be so much more than this. It can be brewed in different ways, put over ice, and it can even be made into espresso shots: highly caffeinated, concentrated coffee. Given the drink’s diversity, a group of John Adams students and I headed out on a quest to discover the best tasting coffee in South Bend using one of the most popular coffee drinks as our subject: the mocha.
A mocha is typically made with chocolate sauce, espresso shots, and steamed milk. The mocha was chosen because over the years it has been favored by people as the best latte flavor. Also, almost every coffee shop, from chains to locals, has a mocha on its menu.
The journey began at Dunkin’ Donuts, and being a super fan of their iced coffee, I had some pretty high hopes to say the least. The small mocha latte was ordered at 130 degrees, the perfect temperature for hot drinks allowing one to drink from it immediately without burning their tongue. Despite ordering a small, we received a medium mocha for a wapping $2.00 because they were having a sale. I could not have been more excited as I began to take my first sip. However, disappointment struck when I realized that it was honestly kind of bad. As mentioned previously, the experiment was not done alone, I brought Natalie Humphrey-Kauffman, Arianna Bordogna-Jurkowitz, and Holly Snyder along with me to get more than one opinion. Holly said that “It doesn’t really taste like mocha to me, it kind of just tastes like coffee, like just plain, boring coffee… I wouldn’t choose this.” Arianna agreed claiming, “it doesn’t taste like anything.” Natalie went as far as saying that “it has no flavor, it tastes like the rinse shots used to clean the espresso machines at Starbucks.”
Mentioning Starbucks, we made our way to the Seattle born coffee shop’s doors. “A tall mocha,” we ordered for $3.45 without tax. Upon the first sip, it was noticeable that the mocha sauce at Starbucks is made from dark chocolate rather than milk, and this will either make one love it or hate it. Personally, I hate it. It tasted too bitter in my opinion and it had too much of a powdery texture. The rest of my crowd seemed to agree with me and the general opinion was that it wasn’t great.
Next, we went to Biggby Coffee, a chain born right here in the Midwest. A tall Mocha Mocha is what we ordered and its price was $4.59 without tax. However, a small at Biggby Coffee is 16 fluid ounces where as a small everywhere else is 12 fluid ounces, so even though it seems more expensive you are getting more for the price. Biggby was also the first to put whipped cream on the mocha, so that is also a plus. With the last two coffees being flops, I was hesitant, but I allowed the coffee to grace my lips with its presence. I think that Biggby was the best we had thus far and it had the best tasting mocha at the time. “The chocolate definitely did not taste powdery, it tasted like more creamy, you could tell the it wasn’t like a powder. It tasted a lot sweeter and I think that definitely had to do with the whipped cream on top,” Arianna determined upon her first taste. “It was the best (so far). It was sweet, and you literally couldn’t taste the espresso too much. Which some people may not like, but I do.” Natalie expressed.
Finally we visited the South Bend Chocolate Cafe, and it was exactly what we hoped it to be. Their small mocha was only $3.25 without tax and it is made with their hot chocolate, one espresso shot, topped with whipped cream, and gifted with a chocolate spoon. The mocha was absolutely delicious, however it is not a latte like the others since it is made from hot chocolate, making it harder to compare it to the other contenders. It was creamy, sweet and rich, but it honestly didn’t really taste like coffee. Holly took a sip and said “mmmm” and took another, meaning that she is a fan. “I feel like it just tastes like hot chocolate, you cannot taste the coffee at all.” said Ari. Natalie made evident that she liked it and Holly stated that “these (the Biggby latte and the Starbucks latte) taste like the mocha is made from syrup and powder. The Chocolate Cafe latte tastes like the mocha is just melted chocolate.”
After trying all of the coffee we determined as a group that the best tasting mocha was from the Chocolate Cafe, however the best tasting espresso was from Biggby. Given that Biggby had some pretty tasty chocolate sauce and the best espresso, I would say that the best mocha latte in town can be bought from Biggby Coffee. However, if one is ever in the need for an energy boost, and one absolutely despises coffee then give the South Bend Chocolate Cafe’s Cafe Mocha a try.