Leite’s Loves…Taza Chocolate

Taza Chocolate

Back in my college days, I began every morning with a hot chocolate ritual. Eyes still half shut, I’d stumble down the hallway to the water fountain in my red-and-white striped pajama bottoms and faded grey T-shirt, fill my electric teakettle, then find my way back to my dorm room. There, I’d turn on the kettle and measure two heaping tablespoons of Swiss Miss Milk Chocolate (the kind without the faux marshmallows) from my economy-size tub into my favorite van Gogh mug, and watch for the first puffs of water vapor. Using a teaspoon that I’d “forgotten” to return to the dining hall, I’d stir the watery brew until the powder dissolved. Then I’d just sit for a moment, breathing in the early morning quiet along with the rising steam that called to mind the sweet, manufactured scent of plastic dolls. It didn’t matter that I’d occasionally be yanked from my early morning contemplation as I choked on a clump of dissolved powder. At the time, I thought it heavenly.

It’s been many years since then, and while I still have a soft spot for Swiss Miss, I’m happy to report that the cloyingly sweet, barely-tastes-like-chocolate experience no longer satisfies my cravings. Today, rather than quickly stirring powder into water, I slowly melt a disc of Taza Mexican-style chocolate in milk on the stovetop. After the rich, thick mixture perfumes the kitchen and turns a deep mahogany hue, I pour it into the very same van Gogh mug and sip slowly, allowing the sweet, spicy, nutty, bewitching elixir to Mexican-hat-dance its way down the hatch.

Taza Chocolate is a Boston-based company that sources raw, organic cacao beans from a cooperative in the Dominican Republic. Its line of simply packaged, all-natural products include not just the Mexicano discs that have become my fix, but chocolate bars, chocolate-covered nuts, even cacao nibs. Taza stone-grinds its beans, a technique founder Alex Whitmore learned under the tutelage of a miller in Oaxaca, Mexico. As such, the chocolate retains an authentically gritty texture that I don’t particularly care for when nibbled straight, but melted into smooth oblivion? That’s another story.

Taza Chocolate isn’t the kind of beverage that I rely on every day—it’s a bit rich not just for my early morning palate, but my pocketbook as well. Yet it’s become my go-to for a late afternoon pick-me-up or a cozy post-prandial sip. I’ve never been to Mexico, so I can’t vouch for Taza’s genuineness, but even if it’s vastly different, it’s more than good enough for me.

Taza Chocolate Mexicano Discs ($4.50 per 2.7-ounce disc) are available in Salted Almond (my favorite), Coffee, Cinnamon, Vanilla, Guajillo Chili, Salt and Pepper, and Cacao Puro, at specialty grocery stores, including most Whole Foods Market locations, and by mail-order through its website.

About Jenna Rose Levy

Saving room for dessert since birth, has always had an abnormal appreciation for food. After she worked at a Connecticut farm and for bakeries on the East Coast and West, there was no turning back. Jenna earned her Master's degree in Food Studies from New York University, and she brings all her knowledge to work each day at Leite's Culinaria and, on the side, to her food blog, Sweet Hearth. On the rare occasion that she isn't doing something food-related, she can be found perfecting her Bananagrams game, planning her next globe-trotting adventure, or exploring the back roads of Boston as she trains for her first marathon.

Comments
Comments
  1. Jill says:

    I first tried Taza chocolate a couple of years ago, ordered from the La Tienda catalogue. Had it with churros for breakfast a few times. The stuff’s amazing!

    • Jenna Levy says:

      Ooh – now you’ve got me salivating over a chocolate and churros pairing, Jill… I’ll have to do that next time!

  2. Julia says:

    Taza is the real deal. They are bean-to-bar producers doing everything the right way–from bicycle deliveries to direct trade with the cacao farmers. I discovered the company after moving to Boston in October, and I visited their factory store before they even had their official opening. I’ve spent time in Oaxaca drooling over the chocolate shops where they grind everything to order, and I can attest that Taza’s chocolate is quite authentic. My favorite flavor (the same as yours!), the salted almond, might not be the most authentic flavor of the bunch, but it’s ridiculously delicious. The guajillo chili and the coffee flavors are also perfect. You’re right that the chocolate is not cheap, but this is a company I feel 100% good about supporting. I’m picky about how I vote with my dollar, but I do open my pocketbook for Taza!

    P.S. Their chocolate-covered cashews are other-worldly and absolutely worth buying and not sharing!

    • Jenna Levy says:

      Isn’t it great? I toured the factory as well, and it was so interesting to see the whole process and chat with the people who bring this stuff to life. I haven’t tried the chili or coffee flavors yet, though I’m sure they’re awesome – it’s just that every time I go out to buy more discs, I can’t help but pick out my usual! I guess it’s not the worst food rut to fall into :) I’m also a huge fan of the chocolate-covered almonds…

  3. Mary says:

    The Taza chocolate sounds wonderful, but it was the thought of you sleepily enjoying your hot chocolate and then hitting a chunk of the powder that made me laugh out loud. I have a favourite coffee mug, but I also have a special hot chocolate one I brought back from Mexico.

    • Jenna Levy says:

      There’s something so comforting about using the same mug for the same beverages -they end up representing so many lovely memories, in addition to housing the delicious liquids. Thanks, Mary!

  4. joant says:

    There’s just one problem with Taza chocolate and making Mexican Hot Chocolate: Try as I might, I always finished the discs before I got to make the drink. I’ve banned myself from buying it. It really IS good, isn’t it! :) (And..I have to admit…I STILL use Swiss Miss…and experience the occasional chocking from the occasional wift of power mixed with chemicals part.) LOL. Jenna

    • Jenna Levy says:

      Oh, I’ve had that same problem! Luckily there are two discs… (And I must say that I still sometimes use Swiss Miss, too!)

      • joan teitelman says:

        Just when you think you’re the only one doing some crazy thing…you find out you’re not alone. Thanks, Jenna. Unfortunately, all this Taza talk has me thinking that I must buy some this weekend. You can get it at that fab little cheese/speciality shop – Essex St. Market on the LES, NY. (And why is it that that awful powder of SwissMiss so damn appealing sometimes? Beats me.)

  5. Lan says:

    I am now craving a hot chocolate. My Mexican friends love the Ibarra brand. Is this better?

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Lan, I haven’t tried Ibarra, but I’m inclined to say not better, not worse, just … different. Any other hot chocolate indulgers out there tried both Ibarra and Taza?

  6. Jamie says:

    Hello. I just saw this product (the discs) for the first time at my local co-op. I’ve done a bunch of searches, but none say how many cups of hot chocolate you can make from one disc.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Jamie, we go by this recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate, which calls for an entire disc per mug of hot chocolate. It’s rich and decidedly decadent and worth every calorie and cent. Incidentally, th mirrors what Taza recommends on their website. Although of course you can start by using less than an entire disk, take a sip, and then add more chocolate to taste. We look forward to hearing what you think!

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