Black Mocha has caught my eye ever since it surfaced in place of Chocaffinitea on Gloucester Road. I’ve since found out that it is in fact the very same establishment having gone through a complete rebrand, and I have to say it 100% looks all the better for it. I never entered the place as Chocaffinitea as it never struck me as a place worth entering, which just goes to show: 1. how looks can be deceiving and 2. how important branding and signage is in our decision making. The signage previously looked cheap, and there was always too much going on in the window that created a cluttered image. Now, however, the signage instantly appears more sophisticated and inviting, so I decided today was the day to check it out.
Not just a coffee shop, Black Mocha also offers single origin chocolate, as well as a selection of different bars to buy from their retail shelf. I’d already had a bit of a sweet day, so didn’t try the hot chocolate, but have seen from many reviews and comments that it’s supposed to be pretty incredible.
Black Mocha advertises its use of Monmouth espresso on its window; a renowned coffee roaster with a small collection of independent stores in London, this gave a great impression to begin with, and also makes a change from the familiar local suppliers around Brighton (predominantly Small Batch of course).
I guess the problem with being familiar with the roastery, and having tasted their espresso from one of their own stores, is that it creates an expectation before you even receive your order. My flat white was way too hot to be served, probably over 80 degrees, which instantly dashes hopes of a great quality coffee as the milk loses its natural sweetness and can burn, diminishing the taste coming through from the espresso (I know, sciencey right?). It didn’t taste horrible, but sadly it wasn’t great, and no amount of good latte art can or should compensate for that.
Having already eaten lunch and it being fairly late in the afternoon, I decided this was just to be a coffee and cake visit. The savoury options that were left did look delicious though, with frittatas and savoury muffins on display that would usually have tempted me. Eyeing up the counter, I decided on a cacao, red berry and avocado mousse cake.
Wooow. This was light and smooth in texture, but decadently rich in taste, and complemented with the sharpness of the red berries on top. I love a chocolate and raspberry combination anyway and have also become quite a fan of raw and vegan cakes and desserts, mainly due to the creativity involved with flavour and such satisfying textures. Plus, knowing it’s slightly healthy or free from refined sugar / gluten / dairy / other can never be a bad thing when it tastes that good. So on this basis, Black Mocha definitely has my attention, and I’m intrigued to try more.
A Third Place?
Black Mocha takes a modern and functional approach to the interior. It’s simple but a little quirky; it looks good and, more importantly, suits it. I chose to sit upstairs and read for a while, melting into the atmosphere to get a feel for the place. I think the general warmth in the room, with relaxing music at a decent level and dotted greenery across the tables is what softens the basic appearance and just makes it work. I was here for a couple of hours and noticed that several people occupying other tables were too, showing its clear Third Place potential for some.
As I said, it was quite late in the day when I visited, thus affecting quantity/availability of food on display and how busy the place was overall, so I imagine coming again at a different time will reflect a completely different vibe.
So far for me, the jury is still kind of out. I’m keen to go back and try more of their food options, as well as indulging in the single origin chocolate on offer, but I was disappointed by the coffee I had here. Everyone’s idea of a Third Place is different, but I’m so often disappointed by independents that look like they should produce a great flat white and don’t (problems of over saturation of coffee in Brighton!), so it’s become an important factor for me when finding my place. So watch this space, and I will get back to you!
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