There is a reason why Starbucks never took off in Australia (none at all in Western Australia). We don’t need them here. There are excellent coffee shops everywhere. You may have to get in your car to drive to the supermarket, the doctor or school, but everyone in Australia has the right to be within walking distance of at least one coffee shop. At least that is the impression I get (and I’m sticking with it). While these coffee shops are all tiny, collectively they had the power to fight off a giant.
This Australian right isn’t limited to city folks. Even smaller towns far, far away from the city will have an impressive selection of coffee shops. Sure, they aren’t always good (neither are the ones in the city), but there are options. Actually no, let me rephrase. There are really interesting and unique options that could make it into the pages of a travel/food magazine or go viral on an Instagram feed across this beautiful country.
When we first moved to Australia and went on road trips, Rich would usually bring his little Italian coffee maker with coffee from home and I my hot chocolate of choice. Now my hot chocolate sits alone in the bag because Rich (unlike me sadly) has many an option to satisfy his caffeine cravings (and he is as picky with his coffees as I am with my hot chocolate).
I must add an important point. While these beautiful local coffee shops often have good coffee, the vast majority of the time they don’t have good hot chocolate. So, I’m just not ordering it much anymore around these parts. I have a lot of work to do still in my attempts to change the way the world views hot chocolate (an important cause really). But this morning at Wild Heart Café in Pemberton I was tempted by the beetroot hot chocolate on the menu.
Up until today, this was my thought about beetroot in hot chocolate: plain silliness. It was added in for the sole purpose of making a hot chocolate, any hot chocolate, seem healthier (a bit like those that tell you that raw chocolate is healthier. There is no such thing its fermented…for another blog) . Nothing to do about flavour, just healthier and luckily for these plain silly folks, beetroot doesn’t actually add much in terms of flavour to a hot chocolate. It doesn’t have a strong “oh, this is strange, I’m drinking beetroot” flavour so it works. A mug of hot chocolate made with good quality chocolate will be healthier than a ridiculously over sweetened cheap chocolate drink with beetroot powder added in.
Any hoo, I ordered it and I enjoyed it. It was not sweet, but rich and creamy and light. There is a hint of beetroot flavour in it but if you didn’t know it was there, you might not realise it. What I enjoyed the most actually was the colour. The beetroot gives it this gorgeous red tinge as one would expect. It is a bit reminiscent of how the Mayan would prepare their drinking chocolate. They would add achiote seeds which would give the drink a vibrant red colour. It was then served in ceremonies to symbolize blood and sacrifice. This red is more of a unicorn pink than a savage red.
The café gas a few different spaces, each with its own unique feel. You can choose a table based on your mood. We went to the back to a table with a chaise longue (like the ones used in psychoanalysis, at least in the movies…). Figured it was a good space to contemplate my beetroot hot chocolate. Added bonus, there was a copy of one of Hetty McKinnon’s stunning cookbooks on the table. If it wasn’t for the whining children (mine), it would have really been quite a lovely moment. Quite lovely indeed.
Verdict: Start your day here (beetroot hot chocolate and breakfast made from local produce). Buy a few things in the shop in the café (all local) and then pop over to take the Diesel Tram that takes visitors on a 75 tour through beautiful Karri and Marri forests. Wild Heart Cafe, 52 Brockman St, Pemberton, WA, Australia