Drink like a Mayan god at Avondale's Caravanserai | Food & Drink Feature | Chicago Reader

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Drink like a Mayan god at Avondale's Caravanserai

Dark Matter Coffee's newest cafe is a collaboration with Mexico City chocolatier La Rifa.


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Mayan Mocha with ghost - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • Mayan Mocha with ghost

You know who you are. This is your day.

That's what you're thinking as you gaze into the frothy, iridescent goblet of xocolatl your worshippers have presented you with. They've sacrificed cacao-colored dogs on your altar, burned incense in your honor, and offered you blue iguanas and bright feathers. But this your favorite part: fermented, dried, and roasted cacao beans, crushed into a paste and decanted to a lather with water and chilis. So bitter. So fruity. The food of the gods is just the best.

No, sorry. You aren't Ek'  Chuwah, the Mayan merchant god of cacao, but you might as well be if you're sitting in the window with your thoughts at Caravanserai in Avondale. That's the newest cafe from Dark Matter Coffee, a collaboration with the Mexico City chocolatier La Rifa, serving Mexican-style drinking chocolate, sorta like what a god might drink.
The bitter - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • The bitter
You can slurp the gamut of DMC coffee beverages—pourovers, drip, draft, espresso, etc.—but the focus is on two separate chocolate-based menus. Tortuga features three frothy expressions of La Rifa bean-to-bar chocolate, offered in decreasing levels of cacao and increasing levels of cane sugar. The "bitter," built from 70-percent four-day fermented cacao and 30 percent cane sugar, probably comes closest to what Ek'  Chuwah got down with. Its ridiculous fruitiness underscores the inherent and ideal juiciness of this beverage; hot, foamy forbidden juice of the gods.

The Jaguar menu feature three lattes, two of them made with La Rifa chocolate. These might hit the spot if you're missing the fatty mouthfeel of the milk-based chocolate of your youth. The Mayan Mocha summons a ghost of cinnamon and cayenne on its backend.

You can buy La Rifa chocolate bars at the cafe and an assortment of DMC coffee beans and swag. What these drinks really need to complete your own recreation of an immortal existence are some hot, sugar-frosted churros, but tamales from Estrella Negra will have to do.
Caravanserai - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • Caravanserai
Caravanserai, 2901 W. Belmont, 773 293-6425

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