civilization1The end is coming and we can feel it. At the start of this tasting tour, Peggy and I were enthusiastic, even eager to sample some of the best hot chocolate drinks in Cleveland. Now, it seems we are just trudging along to the end and this was only evident in our most recent stop at Civilization in Tremont. Being our ninth stop, I am sure this is to be expected.

We met on a sunny afternoon. We approached the counter and asked for a hot chocolate. The non-enthusiastic guy behind the counter asked, “which kind?” We replied with a shocked, “you have different kinds!” Clearly, having been here countless times before we never ordered a hot chocolate. Wanting to try something new, I ordered the chocolate malt and Peggy got the white chocolate.

Here’s what we thought:

  1. Flavor. I barely tasted the chocolate malt flavor till the last sip. Peggy enjoyed the white chocolate although commented it was not warm enough.
  2. Topping. The whipped cream on mine seemed to instantly plunge to the bottom of my drink taking most of the liquid with it. Before the first sip, I was left with little more than a half a cup of hot chocolate.
  3. Size. Pretty standard.
  4. Atmosphere. I’ve always appreciated the old world charm here. It takes me to another place and time. But that’s as far as the warm feelings go. The staff and other patrons weren’t overly friendly and kept to themselves.

While we appreciated the wide selection of hot chocolate flavors here, it wasn’t enough to shake us out of our tasting doldrums. Perhaps the way that Peggy felt about Blackbird last month is how I am feeling too. The novelty has worn off and all the hot chocolates are tasting the same. The one thing that has stayed consistent is the company. The tour has been a pleasant way to take a break, maybe try a new place and enjoy a good conversation with a friend.


Blackbird Baking Company

blackbbird baking

I wasn’t sure after Sweet Moses that another hot chocolate could be that good. I think Blackbird Baking Company came pretty close to proving me wrong. Peggy had previously been wowed by the hot chocolate here, which started us on this journey in the first place. I was a new to it on our eighth tasting stop.

We had both been to Blackbird countless times together and separately. Walking in on a late afternoon, the bright walls and friendly staff brightened my mood on a grey day. Peggy was already there. We ordered our hot chocolate and requested a mug. They asked if we wanted our hot chocolate sweetened. I said, yes, after the barista explained they use a vanilla syrup to do so. In fact, she informed me, they can add any flavor of syrup to it which I made a note of for future visits.

Here’s what we thought:

  1. Flavor. A rich bittersweet taste is created by a piece of chocolate that warm milk is poured over. According to Peggy, it didn’t impress her as much as the first time she had it.
  2. Topping. Peggy lamented that they didn’t have a homemade marshmallow that she has now become accustomed after the delicious ones at previous stops. I sprinkled some cinnamon and cocoa on mine to liven it up.
  3. Size. They had the usual sizes. We chose a medium.
  4. Atmosphere. The bright and whimsical wall color and art provided a welcoming environment. It is usually busy and often can get too loud making it hard to hear the conversation at your own table. But otherwise, I’ve always had a pleasant time here.

Overall, Blackbird is one of my favorite places to work or meet up with people, because it is conveniently located. We will both come back.  Peggy normally drinks coffee while here and is likely to continue doing so. Although she realized that after that initial sip here, we’ve had a lot of amazing hot chocolate and her palette has been refined by that.