“What does he get if he gets them all right?”
“An iced mocha.”
— two of my co-workers
And with that began the “Iced Mocha tour of Berkeley” in the office today.
Six of us went forth and each acquired an Iced Mochas from a local coffee
house. This endeaver was inspired by the fact that R., our resident Iced Mocha
expert, was leaving for Grad School at the end of the week.
Iced Mocha expert? Yeah, you see, R. averages about three Iced Mochas a day,
and even owns iced-mocha.net. When he travels, he always comes back with a report
about the availability of Iced Mochas. Really, R. and Iced Mocha are pretty much synonymous.
So the purpose of the Iced Mocha tour was actually two-fold. First, it was an attempt to spread around some of R.’s knowledge of local coffee shops in general, and Iced Mochas in particular. And Second, it was an opportunity to see how well
R. knows his Iced Mochas in a little blind taste test.
So we gathered our Iced Mochas, returned to the office, poured each Iced Mocha into an anonymous cup, and let R. try his mouth at the cups. R., unfortunately, only went 1/2 for 6. The Iced Mochas were:
A. International House
C. Coffee Source
D. Wall Berlin
E. Sufficient Grounds
G. Intermezzo (R. picked the first five, and this last one was chosen as a
“mystery mocha” to stump the expert)
It’s important to note that random anomalies frequently occur with coffee, and sometimes you just get a bad mocha. R. most frequently gets his Iced Mochas from Strada, Coffee Source, and Wall Berlin, and amazingly, our samples from both Strada and Coffee Source were sufficiently bad to throw off R.’s taste buds. (I drink Iced Mochas pretty regularly, and I agree that they were both … abnormal)
This, unfortunately, totally threw off R.’s ability to pidgeonhole which mocha was which, because he couldn’t identify the mochas he drinks most often. So in the end,
the only mocha he (half) identified was the Mystery Mocha, though he guessed that it was from Espresso Experience rather than Intermezzo. R.’s first, and pretty much only, comment on that Intermezzo Mocha before declaring it
“bad” was “Ilch!”
In the end, the assembled tasted ranked our Iced Mochas in the following order:
- Sufficient Grounds – This is one of my favorites even on a normal day, but today’s sample was unusually milky and sweet, which made for an especially pleasing experience for all the non-regular mocha drinkers in the office.
- Wall Berlin – They tend towards sweeter, but very strong, Mochas. Todays was actually a little less strong than usual, which I didn’t personally mind.
- International House – I’d never had an Iced Mocha from here, but it was pretty typical for what I expect from an Iced Mocha.
- Coffee Source/Strada – Once again, I note that these were both “bad blends,” and should not be discounted just based on this one bad experience.
- Intermezzo – Christo this one was bad. Ilch indeed. But Intermezzo is more of a salad/sandwich place than a coffee house, so I can’t complain too much.
For reference, my favorite three Mochas on a normal day are Sufficient Grounds, Coffee Source, and Wall Berlin. I don’t get up to Strada very often to drink there enough to develop a taste for it. From todays taste tests, though, I realized that I actually like my Iced Mochas slightly watered down (or less strong, if you prefer looking at it that way), but definitely Iced. Cold cold cold
is a must.
Lessons learned? If we do this again, we should get two samples from each coffee shop, remove the ice and add it back right before tasting (to keep them from getting watered down until the samples are poured), and mix vigourously before the taste tests begin.
The final verdict on the Iced Mocha Tour?
“I think drinking iced mochas like this is like drinking several different kinds of hard liquor.”
– R., on “that funny feeling in our stomachs”
Oh, and here are a couple pictures.