Kakawa is one of a kind … just like Santa Fe. Santa Fe is a gorgeous place to visit for so many reasons but I would come back again and again just to visit Kakawa. In the three days we were here we visited Kakawa three times. The day I left Santa Fe my taste buds went into shock wondering what happened to their daily Kakawa fix.
Kakawa is an Olmec word meaning cacao or chocolate. The focus in this little adobe building is on historic drinking chocolates including traditional Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican Mayan Astec drinking chocolates, 1600’s European drinking chocolates, Colonial American and Colonial Mexican drinking chocolates. Every day there is a slightly different selection of eight hot chocolates, all available in small clear containers on a long counter. The staff here were incredibly friendly, and provided tasting samples of as many different hot chocolates as you want to help you make the all important decision of which one to get.
I tasted them all and my head is still spinning in delight. The one that intrigued me the most was the Aztec hot chocolate. The Aztec is unsweetened, made with water and a mix of herbs, flowers, nuts, spices, chilli and Mexican vanilla. It was a powerful shot of liquid that felt like it could cure absolutely any ailment but that also knocked me off my feet and put me into a slight hot chocolate shock. It was so powerful it took my taste buds a full minute to recover and by then the chocolate had left a beautiful, spice filled aftertaste. At that point I’d take another sip, be completely overwhelmed again with the incredibly strong flavours, recover and do it all again until the cup was empty.
I can’t say it was a completely pleasant experience (but I do definitely recommend you try it once!), but what was a pleasant experience were the slightly sweetened European hot chocolates. The Havana Rum, 72% chocolate mixed with almond milk, citrus, spcies and Mexican vanilla, was stunning. Since the alcohol had been cooked off, the rum gave a flavour kick but without any other side effects. Another beautiful one was the Tonantzin, again 72% chocolate mixed with water, rose, damiana and Mexican vanilla. It was silky and smooth and I’m sure must be a best seller.
Once you finally decide which of the rich elixirs you’d like, they are presented to you in a beautiful blue and white cup. To accompany your hot chocolate they serve a tempting selection of incredibly rich brownies and truffles which of course we tried as well.
Although a little bit of a walk from the historic downtown, Kakawa is definitely worth the small detour and its elixirs will provide all the energy you need to make the walk back into town after. You can turn it into the middle stop of a walking loop which would start after breakfast at Tia Sophia’s (a must), a browse around the historic plaza admiring the jewellery and pottery sold by Native Americans outside the Palace of the Governors. Walk past the colourful abodes, stores and a few outdoor art markets and the Loretto Chapel up the Old Santa Fe Trail. After your drink walk over to Canyon Road to explore the numerous galleries and one of the cities better restaurants, El Farol or a visit to the Ten Thousand Waves Spa only a hop and a skip away (truly a magical place).
Verdict: One of my ultimate hot chocolate spots, with a fantastic mix of fascinating and delicious flavours. Luckily for us all of their blends are for sale online (even their cups!). The world needs more places like Kakawa…. Kakawa Chocolate House, 1050 E. Paseo de Peralta, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA