5427 College Avenue Oakland, CA 94618, 510-654-7159

Monday, March 30, 2009

Drinking History

No we are not joining AA, but we do have a history. Those of you who've spent any time talking to Bittersweet staffers you have probably been quoted the fact that chocolate was exclusively a drink up until 1849 or so, which is another way of saying that drinking chocolate is a pretty amazing way to tap directly into the many thousands of years of human experience with the mysterious and wonderful T. Cacao.

Wandering through the chocolate blogosphere, we came across this nice, brief summary of the history of drinking chocolate.

Read, sip and (always) enjoy! Did we mention that it's good for you? See below =)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Chocolate is the New Sports Drink!

(I stole this from the Danville Store's Blog and thought it was so interesting I would share it.)
-- Marienne)

Forget Gatorade, chocolate milk is the new sports drink. A recent study reveals that chocolate milk is way more effective than any "specially formulated" performance drink. And the reasons why are clear.

Alone, chocolate is an incredible source of energy. One single chocolate chip contains enough energy for an adult to walk 150 feet. An ounce of baking chocolate contains 10% the recommended daily iron intake, a mineral that binds to the center of the heme complex. This means that it increases performance by enabling the hemoglobin (the stuff in you blood that binds to oxygen) to more effectively carry oxygen to your muscles as well as by allowing cytochrome proteins to form which enable redox reactions (such a metabolism--the chemical reaction that gives the body energy). Additionally, chocolate contains a small amount of caffeine. The caffeine content is ideal because at about 5-10 mg of caffeine in an ounce of chocolate, it is enough to heighten alertness, but not enough to cause any noticeable "crash" effects. Finally, cocoa flavanols help to regulate blood pressure, which is especially important at a rapid heart rate.

But even more magic happens when the chocolate is combined with milk. Gatorade and the likes work by replacing carbohydrates, electrolytes and fluids lost in sweat. However, recent research indicates that coupling these ingredients with protein may make them even more effective. New sports drinks, like Endurox, attempted to cash in on this by adding protein to their formulas, but nothing seems to be as effective as good old-fashioned chocolate milk. In another study, cyclists biked to exhaustion, then rested for four hours and drank sports drinks and chocolate milk. They then biked to exhaustion again. The amazing thing is that those cyclists who drank chocolate milk biked 50% longer than those who drank Endurox. But why? Endurox has the same carb-protein ratio as chocolate milk. The reason is in the sugars. The chemical structure of the artificial sugars in Endurox causes them to be more difficult to absorb by the stomach lining than the lactose in milk.

Well there you have it. Chocolate milk is giving Gatorade a run for its money. And with athletes like Michael Phelps drinking it everyday, chocolate milk is sure to pick up a boastful reputation in the years to come.

A lot of people come to Bittersweet after a soccer game, but wouldn't it be a great idea to come before as well? You could fuel up on carbs, proteins, and fluids, all while getting the amazing health benefits of chocolate. And let's not forget how amazingly tasty it is.

Posted by: Stuart Camenson, Barista Extrordinaire, Danville

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Percentage Matters!

As many of you probably know, the percentage listed on a chocolate package indicates the amount (by mass) of that bar that came directly from the cacao seed--i.e. the real raw material of chocolate--which is often referred to as cocoa mass or cocoa liquor. What's the other stuff, then? Mostly sugar, usually with some amount of emulsifying fats (whether soy or cocoa butter) and trace amounts of vanilla.

Percentage isn't everything, but it's certainly more than just a sales tool or a marketing pitch, and it absolutely matters. We know, for instance, that higher percentage chocolates will naturally contain more bioflavinoids and antioxidants, so if you're interested in the health benefits of chocolate, then percentage is an important shopping tool. Being aware of the percentage also gives a general sort of awareness as to the flavor terrritory you may be entering, and can serve as a handy guidepost in your explorations and expansions of chocolate palate.

In the final analysis, of course it's flavor that matters most, and cocoa mass percentage can't offer you much information on that front. Exploring your personal chocolate preferences depends on the hard work of simply eating more and diverse chocolate :-) So go get started! But don't dismiss percentage, or be afraid to use it as a tool along the road.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The sidewalks are done!

If you have been around trying to visit us lately you may know that the city has been replacing the sidewalks in front of the cafe. All for good reason and now they will be much safer!

Well, they are now finally done! The sidewalks are open and so are we, so please stop in and check out the new flat surfaces out front.

Hope to see you soon.

Just a reminder that as the days get warmer we can do every drink iced.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Time for a Tasting?

We get a lot of requests for chocolate tastings, and while it is fun to come in to Bittersweet for one of our events, it can be just as fun and rewarding to sit down with some friends and work your way through some of our fabulous selection! To help you get started, here are links to Bittersweet's own tasting guide and flavor wheel:
Tasting Guide
Chocolate Flavor Wheel

Use them as you see fit, and above all--have fun!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

This Week's Special!

This week is an amazing deal! You can get a Mocha and a Mini Ginger Pear Muffin all for only $4.95.

This one is hard to resist. Stop in and get yours today, it is only available while supplies last Monday through Friday.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Our Newest Arrival!

No, nobody here had a baby; but I am proud to announce that we are now carrying the 70% "Sambirano" chocolate bar by Rogue Chocolatier!
These chocolate bars are hand made in small batches in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by Colin Gasko, who is fast becoming the "talk of the town" in the chocolate making industry. At only 23 years old, he sources and cleans, roasts, grinds, refines, conches, tempers, molds, and packages his chocolate by himself!

The "Sambirano" chocolate bar is single-origin, using a bean from the now famous Sambirano Valley in Madagascar. Citrus and raisin flavor notes abound in this chocolate, and has a complex yet very clean feel on the palate.

I am extremely happy to have this chocolate in our store and I encourage all of you to stop by and grab a bar to take home and enjoy!

(image source, Rogue Chocolatier)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate

What a catchy title. Brad Warner, the author of Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate, will be next door at Diesel Books Wednesday, March 18th, to discuss and sign his book. During a year that Warner spent giving talks and leading retreats across North America, his mother and grandmother died, he lost his dream job, and his marriage fell apart. In writing about how he applied the Buddha's teachings to his own real-life suffering, Warner shatters expectations, revealing that Buddhism isn't some esoteric pie-in-the-sky ultimate solution, but an exceptionally practical way to deal with whatever life dishes out.

Sounds good to me, we all need a little help and guidance now and then.

So, when you come by to see Brad Warner, be sure to stop by Bittersweet for your Chocolate Zen first. The signing begins at 7:00 PM, the time when Bittersweet is closing, so be sure to come early to satisfy your chocolate needs, then head next door to satisfy your karmic ones.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Weekly Breakfast Specials!

Beginning next week we are bundling a drink and a pastry for a Weekly Breakfast Special of $4.95. This special will change from week to week and will be Monday through Friday.

What a great way to try something new without damaging the pocketbook.

Next week, March 9-13, our weekly special includes a Bittersweet and a Croissant, all for only $4.95. What a deal!

So stop by your local Bittersweet for a chocolaty treat and enjoy a pastry while you are there.

While supplies last!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Amano Chocolate

Those of you who may have watched Food Network this recently may have caught the "Unwrapped" episode where the chocolate manufacturer "Amano" was featured. If you were curious about this wonderful, American-made chocolate, we carry their Ocumare and their Madagascar bars for you to take home and enjoy!

Just a little tidbit-- the Amano Ocumare bar was voted "Best bar in America" by NPR and the Madagascar bar was voted "Best" of the Chocolate Salon 2007 in San Francisco.