Volta welcomes Blanxart Chocolates
We have an amazing new chocolate line that we'd like to announce: Blanxart Chocolates. Blanxart has been producing extraordinary chocolates in their Barcelona workshop for almost sixty years. We discovered their wonderful bars at Murry's Cheese Shop, in NYC's west village, last winter. After a ten month search for a distributor, we've gone straight to the source to become a wholesale client of the importer. We're thrilled. Blanxart is a true bean-to-bar producer; sourcing top quality cocoa beans from around the world, Blanxart crushes, toasts, and extracts their own chocolate liquor, cocoa powder, and cocoa butter. Every step of the process is carried out by hand to ensure the right blend, aroma, texture, and taste. After roasting and refining, all natural ingredients (usually drawn from Spanish culture) are blended to create a deep and luscious chocolate.
The two centerpiece bars are now the two darkest bars that we offer: a single-origin 80% Ghana bar and a blended 85% bar with cocoa nibs. If you are a fan of straight dark chocolate, you will want to try these bars. Only the Escazu Esca bar comes close to offering the pure chocolate thrill of the Ghana bar. It manages to pull off exotic, spicy, sweet, fruity and still have the super-clean finish that you'd expect of an 80% bar. The nib bar combines the clean flavor of the Ghana bar with a touch more bite and the added crunch of the nibs. We're also carrying three of the smaller bars, the classic Spanish dark, a dark with almonds, and a white chocolate that is sophisticated and refined-- while avoiding the cloying sweetness often found in German and Swiss white chocolates.
The Volta Barcelona Hot Chocolate
Working with Blanxart's amazing Organic 73% dark chocolate, we've decided to add a new hot chocolate to the drink menu: the Volta Barcelona. While the Vosges hot chocolates are sophisticated blends of spices, herbs, flours, chocolate chunks and cocoa powders, the Barcelona reflects the sort of rustic sophistication that defines new Spanish cuisine: 73% organic chocolate, a splash of milk, organic sugar, and a touch a vanilla. We serve the Barcelona in a 5.5 oz. cappuccino cup. The drink is close to perfection as it stands, but you can guild the lilly by adding a pinch of ground chipotle and/or a splash of Volta's homemade cinnamon syrup. I highly recommend the authentic continental breakfast: a Barcelona hot chocolate and a croissant.
Just in time for the holiday season, Volta is now serving Loison's Panettone Classico. The Panettone comes direct from Italy, and we just received the first shipment into the US for the fall. It is my new perfect breakfast with a Black Cat cappuccino-- just dip a slice of the Panettone into the foam and the rest of the morning shines just a little brighter.
Special Event: TangoVolta
Wednesdays, 8-10pm, starting November 5
Join Volta for a night of Tango dancing and music. Come by to learn or just to watch-- or learn to tango with free lessons from 7:30-8pm. Hosted by the UF Argentine Tango Club and Volta Coffee.
Special Event, November 3@7:30pm
As I've written before, we take our water very seriously here at Volta. We can spend all the time and money sourcing coffee and tea, but without high quality water we'd be wasting our time. Coffee and Tea are, after all, 98% water. Before opening the shop, I was involved for ten years with Global Underwater Explorers and the Woodville Karst Plain Project, two local non-profit organizations dedicated to protecting the magnificent springs of North Florida. I'm pleased to be able to bring the leading hydrogeologist, Todd Kincaid, to Volta to talk about the threats to the Floridan aquifer.
Join Dr. Todd Kincaid as he outlines the perilous conditions developing within our global aquatic environments and the efforts of a local Gainesville non-profit (Global Underwater Explorers - GUE) in stemming the tide of environmental contamination in the Floridan Aquifer. This engaging discussion will highlight the contamination present within Northern Florida springs and the fascinating science that seeks to preserve these natural environments. These research efforts have evolved into an entirely novel approach to the study of groundwater that involves cave divers to get detailed maps of underwater caves and instrument the caves with scientific equipment. By harnessing an all volunteer team of GUE divers, Dr. Kincaid and his team at the Florida Geological Survey have been able to establish ground breaking models that promise to revolutionize our approach to ground water preservation. More broadly, he’ll discuss how we hope to apply a similar approach to solve a host of similar environmental problems related to our underwater realms.
We've been waiting for Intelligentsia's Yirgacheffe coffee since we opened our doors back in early summer. Of all of the countries of origin, we have received more requests for Ethiopian coffee than any other. I don't think that it is because more people want Ethiopian coffee. It's that Ethiopian coffees stand apart from the others with unique flavors, and those drawn to a good Yirg are much more vocal about what they like. You just don't get the same crazy mix of citrus and berry flavors from (most) Central American or Pacific coffees. Our direct trade Kurimi Yirgacheffe is a very elegant example of what to expect from an Ethiopian cup:
Charming the palate with its citrus fruit acidity, the Kurimi sparkles and shines as it brings forth flavors of orange, lime and lemongrass. Notes of jasmine and honeysuckle carry a delicate sweetness matching the pristine, juicy body that glides across the tongue. A subtle and clean finish leaves notes of sweet spice and cocoa.
A closer look at a few of Volta's chocolate bars
Coming into Volta you might not look to your left and notice our amazing wall of chocolates. There's a lot to distract you, but a short trip (and perhaps a sample or two) might change your perceptions of chocolate forever.
Lots of coffee people eschew sweetness in hopes of chasing more complex tastes, but modern chocolatiers have been creating nuanced bars of chocolate that are quite different from a Hershey's, Cadbury, or Lindt treat. At Volta we've gathered together a diverse array of chocolates from all over the world, and flavor combinations that are sure to surprise and fascinate the most demanding palates.
Here are just a few...
L'Artigano: Sale et Dolce- the most exciting and immediately rewarding bar of milk chocolate I've ever tasted. It has a bit of olive oil in it which makes its texture immediately yielding and the flavor instantaneous. This is one trick that dark chocolate just cannot match. The chocolate is rich with notes of caramel and cream. The sea salt isn't too coarse, and compliments the gamine forwardness of this bar with just a modest crunch. A truly exceptional milk chocolate and a valid take on the new trend of combinations that stress the meeting of sweet and salty.
Maglio: Santo Domingo- This varietal bar comes from Santa Domingo and has a 70% cocoa content without being at all harsh. The chocolate has a slow approach as it melts in your mouth, and deep malty notes of toasted grains almost leaning towards hazelnut or biscuit. This makes it an excellent companion for rich dark coffees or red wines. The finish is balanced and clean with no lingering bitterness.
Askinosie: Soconusco- This dark bar uses Trinitario beans, a personal favorite of mine, from Mexico and like the Maglio bar focuses on the subtle nuances of flavor available in a single origin bar. The divisions of the bar make for excellent tasting squares and each one is just the right size for a mouth filled with rich chocolate complexity. The bar includes notes of cedar, dark berries, a pleasant tanginess, and a wonderfully balanced body.
These three bars all come from very different companies, each with a story that will only enhance your appreciation for the work, study, and love that goes into artisan chocolates. Visit us and our chocolate wall to learn and taste for yourself what we've been loving in chocolate bars here at Volta.
Summer is finally winding down. We love that it is finally cool enough that people are comfortable on the front patio all day long; the crisp mornings are made that much better with a big cup of Otoño blend. Still, we'll miss the summer watermelons that we've been turning into the most popular agua fresca on the menu: Agua Fresca de Sandia.
We found one last watermelon at the produce stand this morning. It's not a Newberry sweet or a North Carolina Crimson, but it will have to do until next spring. Actually, it's pretty darned good.
We made two gallons worth this morning, so if you want one last fix of your watermelon-lime agua fresca, you need to come by the shop before Wednesday...
Although the watermelons have run their course for the year, we just sourced enough dried hibiscus to last us through the start of 2009. Once this batch of watermelon-lime is gone we will have agua fresca de jamaica on the menu for the rest of the year.
Volta is pleased to announce that the shop will now be hosting the UF MFA poetry and fiction reading series. Stop by the shop to hear works read by up-and-coming authors and poets from UF's acclaimed writing program. Readings begin at 8pm and last about an hour.
9/11 Beau Golwitzer (fiction), Karin Lightstone (poetry)
9/18 Rachel Khong (fiction), James Davis (poetry)
10/9 Halvor Aakhus (fiction), Diya Chaudhuri (poetry)
10/23 Philip Pinch (fiction)
11/6 David Blanton (fiction), Jessica Hammack (poetry)
11/20 Sarah Sheldon (fiction), Laura Deily (poetry)
We're in a (welcome) lull between new crop offerings with our coffees. The pace of new releases this summer has been difficult to keep up with-- new favorite coffees appear for a few weeks in limited release, only to vanish just as we come to terms with the aromatic complexities. I know that I'll miss the Nicaragua Finca San Jose, and it seems like the Tres Santos from Huila was gone in a blink. We tried our hand at our first limited edition guest espresso, the wonderful Nordic blend from Copenhagen's Coffee Collection. It was a one-off chance to sample the espresso from one of Europe's up-and-coming roasters, and everyone who tried a shot raved about the rich, buttery, spicy tones. It was a nice contrast to the Black Cat. I'm using past-tense because we pulled the last shot for a customer yesterday afternoon. Here's to more limited and guest espresso offerings in the future...
While the Coffee Collective espresso might be gone, we do have two limted, reserve coffees on the board this week. The Nicaraguan Lemoncello has a few more days left. The Lemoncello won second place in this year's Nicaragua Cup of Excellence competition; only 14 bags were harvested, and that lot was split between four roasters at auction. The retail price of the Lemoncello is $70 per pound. You can enjoy a cup of this rare coffee, brewed on our Clover, for less than the price of Heineken at most bars in town. Here's how Intelligentsia describes the cup: "Stunning in its nuanced nature, Limoncillo is a dazzling representation of Nicaragua. The plush aromatics boast of coffee blossoms and butter cream. Lush, juicy lime-like acidity lifts notes of jasmine and perfectly ripened tropical fruit. The body is both delicate and creamy as the buttery aftertaste lingers pleasantly and deftly." Here's how we describe it: subtle lime sorbet that becomes sweeter and more floral as it cools.
The other micro-lot coffee on the menu is a carefully selected version of the Honduras La Tortuga called Galapagito. At least half of the baristas agree with me that it is among the top three coffees of the dozen or so that we've served this summer, if not the best. If you like the big chocolately body of the Tortuga, you'll love the added punch of caramel and pear of the Galapagito. Our batch was roasted on Monday and will be peaking for the rest of the weekend, so be sure to set time aside to enjoy a cup before our after the Gator game.