The Chocolate Tree had been in my mind for some time, although I didn’t give it much thought (not enough even to notice it on Bruntsfield Place during my daily travels) until I visited for the first time – and I didn’t even stay in for longer than three minutes which it had taken my companion to ask about their red espresso coffee, which that was the point of our visit. For all those intrigued by the name “red espresso” (I know I was), it is meant to be a red-coloured decaffeinated coffee. However, when I enquired personally, I was told that what they use for that is a Rooibos tea extract. Coffee or tea then? I’ll just stick to my mochas, shall I?.
And so I did return after that first visit as the place mesmerised me. I might have already given the impression that I love visiting themed cafes: venues where it is plain to see that a lot of thought, passion and work went into setting the place up and running it according to that set theme. It’s no mystery what the theme of The Chocolate Tree is, and although I am not a chocoholic, I was thrilled by the dozens of varieties of the peculiar flavours of bars they had on offer. I was ready to splash out on a selection for the whole family – but, thankfully, my companion rushed me to leave and my thin purse was saved for the day.
This second, planned visit was quite similar in that respect, but this time I was stood in front of the pasty case filled with luxurious petite chocolates, fighting a silent battle within. Eventually, the strong will prevailed and I limited myself to ordering my mocha. I strategically placed myself in the lovely nook at the back of house, which is probably often used by eco-students for an evening of singing and hand-holding whilst sipping organic hot chocolate; it’s a tiny room with a wooden table in the middle and wooden chairs around it, with a wee window looking out on an overgrown garden and a guitar on the wall, which surely isn’t there just for decoration. The whole place has pretty much the same feel: it’s like a dark forest, with only some light coming from the windows, and from the bright lit pastry and gelato cases. Enough said that the staff fit in the context like a leaf to a tree: very laid back and constantly smiling.
When I received my Luxury Mocha, I gasped. My bad that I hadn’t read the description of the beverage before ordering, as then I would have asked for no whipped cream; but never mind that. When I finally got through it (there’s the strong will out the window) I was hit by an intense, rich and creamy chocolate lava, as, indeed, it was a bit too hot to down at once. That forced me to cherish it in small sips, each one as enjoyable as the previous one but forcing me to convince myself more vigorously in my mind that I would burn it off in the course of the day. The 72per cent dark cocoa with 50 per cent milk cocoa mix was truly luxurious, however, a nagging thought sprung to my mind whilst savouring it, and it wouldn’t leave me – even until now. Was there any coffee in it?! The coffee description on the wall (which I eventually read on my way out) stated that espresso was used, and when a headache from the night before returned quickly after leaving the Tree I blamed the espresso in my beverage. Yet, I quickly remembered that cocoa also contains caffeine, and since this chocolate had such a strong cocoa in it…
Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that the drink was made badly or that it is too weak to be worthwhile – quite the opposite. At The Chocolate Tree they are certainly devoted to giving their name the right meaning; and although there is a bit too much cocoa content in there for my taste, I would certainly recommend a visit to anyone with a sweet tooth.
Luxury Mocha: £2.80
Verdict justification: Rises to the expectations set by the name; just a bit too hot to enjoy at a pace one would like