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Hot? Cold? Grab both drinks at Monsoon Chocolate's Café + Market in Midtown

Chocolate & treat makers are celebrating 1 year of connecting with neighbors at café on Fort Lowell and Dodge; company extended café hours to be ready for customers starting their day at 7 a.m.
Posted at 8:09 AM, May 28, 2024

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) -- — For this visit in the series, the Good Morning Tucson crew tried two drinks at Monsoon Chocolate's Café + Market in Midtown.

The company has had a successful first year at the location on Fort Lowell and Dodge, connecting with neighbors either looking for a new unique snack or discovering their beautiful bonbons.
Monsoon's main factory, further south in town, is also celebrating six years of being in business.

However, we came to try Monsoon's liquid confections. The café staff whipped up a cup of their spicy, Sonoran hot chocolate and a new drink that, for some, will turns the conventional concept of chocolate on its head.

Let's warm up first with the spicier twist on a classic comfort drink. Café manager Brett Turner said their Sonoran hot chocolate will have you wanting more without breaking a sweat. "You're going to feel it, and it's different than a chipotle spice," Turner said. "It's going to have a lot of smoky flavor — a chiltepin is going to be a little bit more of like a back-of-the-throat, very neutral spice."

Turner said if you miss having a mug of this as a kid on a cold winter morning, you can appreciate this more adult recipe that incorporates Monsoon's proprietary Gila blend of chocolate.

"Tabasco, Mexico dark chocolate, as well as Esmeralda, Ecuador dark chocolate. We'll get a nice few scoops in there." But Turner said another ingredient is the true magic touch: Monsoon's Sonoran syrup, infused with cinnamon, anise and the chiltepin spice.

Give the mug a good froth (with an espresso machine, if you have one), whisk it again then add oat milk.

This wasn't the only surprise this day. Turner, and Monsoon Chocolate director of community Prabjit Virdee, revealed that they're premiering a new, refreshing summer drink.

The cacao fruit spritz gets its name from the signature ingredient; a cool creation using fruit pulp from Ecuador that is harvested from the pod where farmers take the beans used to make the chocolate we know.

"The best way to communicate the flavor," Turner said, "is something similar to like a pineapple or apple. It's almost like a tropical applesauce." It's not a complicated recipe, either: 50 grams of the pulp, acid phosphate, carbonated water and some orange bitters with a Tucson connection.

"The oranges were actually grown in mission garden down over by A Mountain," Turner said. "In a sea of very sweet indulgent offerings, we really wanted to come through with something to really counterbalance all of that."

Virdee and his team want every neighbor to feel like they can come in to the café and discover new things without feeling intimidated. "Lots of families also come by after school, on the weekends to just have a sweet treat," he said.

Virdee also said, in order to build even stronger roots in this part of Midtown and greater Tucson, the café added more hours. They're now open from 7 a.m. — 6 p.m. every day, so neighbors can pop in to have a drink and start their day.

"There could be those cyclists and other folks getting out early, whether it's with the dogs or in the garden that might be finishing up something at 7, 8 a.m.," Virdee said.
"(They) need something refreshing, so we'll be there for them."

At last check, Monsoon Chocolate's café will also offer customers 50% off their drip or iced coffee if they come in before 9 a.m.

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José Zozaya is an anchor and reporter for KGUN 9. Before arriving in southern Arizona, José worked in Omaha, Nebraska where he covered issues ranging from local, state and federal elections, to toxic chemical spills, and community programs impacting immigrant families. Share your story ideas and important issues with José by emailing jose.zozaya@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.