It’s no surprise that artisan hot chocolate café Jaz & Jul’s is busiest on Sundays. Coffee might be the pick-me-up of choice on weekday mornings, but when it comes to a lazy weekend afternoon, nothing beats hot creamy cocoa. Plus, Jaz & Jul’s warming treats are a little bit special.
Originally sold at food markets, the powder (made by the two friends) is vegan, organic and created from real chocolate, spices and essential oils. As served at the duo’s new hangout at the back end of Chapel Market, it comes thin, milky and Nesquik-brown, like a six-year-old’s nightcap.
The ‘Madagascar’ – a simple 61 percent cocoa drink – was warm and rich but not too sweet, and the ‘Orangeytang’ tasted like a dark Terry’s Chocolate Orange with a hint of cardamom and cinnamon. Priced at £2.80 and £3.30, they cost about the same as drinks in nearby Pret, so are great value for money. For an extra 50p, you can get both with mini marshmallows and cream. But we went for an all-out treat: a giant handmade cocoa and strawberry marshmallow topper, which was light but gooey and tasted a bit like Neapolitan ice cream.
The drinking chocolate is made on site in a backroom with a glass window so you can watch. It’s clearly the star of the show at the café, as Jaz & Juls’ cakes are tasty but not quite as delicious. Their Blondie was very sweet and very beige (in colour, texture and taste) – although the chunks of dark chocolate in it were vibrant. The dense banana bread was more of success, with a balance sweetness and saltiness as well as bitter cocoa nibs dotted through it. Both cost less than £3.
Apart from the food, the two-floored space has quite a students’ union vibe, with a mix of two-seater tables, sofas and booths. Oh, and don’t worry cocoa-phobes: they do Monmouth coffee too