Fattoush Cafe//פטוש: Best Coffee in Haifa

This post was originally published on May 21, 2015 and updated on July 1, 2020.

Fattoush Cafe is the best answer for a delicious meal and unique cup of coffee in Haifa, Israel.

The cafe sits on a row of restaurants where beautiful Israeli hostesses tempt you with menus and deals. But Fattoush Cafe doesn’t need a beautiful hostess; the restaurant’s design is stunning all on its own. Only a small wooden stool with a stack of menus greets you, along with the smell of delicious dishes.

Time Cupsoul feels attracted to secluded outdoor patios — “magic gardens” at cafe’s, if you will. A lover of nature, drinking coffee surrounded by trees and flowers adds to the feeling of inner peace. It’s the feeling that creates a time cupsoul, a coffee experience of inspiration and calm. Fattoush Cafe’s garden patio is visible from the street, with the patio tables protected by vines and olive trees. Yes, this looked more than suitable.

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Óbolo’s Merkén Smoked Chili Chocolate Bar Scores with Special Spice

Things are a bit crazy lately. Let’s just leave it at that. But Óbolo Chocolate Makers’ 65% Dark Chocolate Merkén Smoked Chili bar with “authentic, smoked chili pepper from Chile’s indigenous Mapuche culture,” has rocked our world. This bar is spicy and alive! We can’t wait to share more thoughts with you.

If you didn’t already know, unsweetened cocoa has both methylxanthine (which is also found in caffeine and therefore, coffee), and theobromine (a bitter alkaloid), that may provide numerous human health benefits. In chocolate specifically, theobromine is higher than caffeine. Scientific research (linked) shows that cocoa (unsweetened – the more cocoa the better) can reduce asthma, is anti-inflammatory, good for the gut flora, induces bronchial relaxation/can suppress a cough, and can improve circulation, among many other benefits. In the age of COVID-19, these physical benefits seem very positive. As always, this article is not a replacement for a medical physician and we are no way implying to self-diagnose or self-treat. But if chocolate provides physical and emotional comfort to you during this time, please do enjoy chocolate and check out this Óbolo bar!

Óbolo Merken Smoked Chili 65% Dark Chocolate Bar, illustrations (c) time cupsoul
Óbolo Merken Smoked Chili 65% Dark Chocolate Bar, illustrations (c) time cupsoul

We picked up this bar quite a while ago before quarantine (in-person) from our favorite local chocolate spot: Chocolate House DC.

This bar’s packaging is simple and bright. “Sabores de Chile Endémico” caught our eye! A Chilean chocolate maker! Inside the packaging, Óbolo labels themselves as the “premier bean to bar chocolate” makers in Chile, selecting “the finest organic cacao beans grown by a cooperative of farmers in the Amazon jungle.” The company also focuses on “sustainability, fairness and minimal environmental impact.” The chocolate bar is even wrapped in “compostable biofilm.”

We can’t recall why we chose to buy a smoked chili bar at the time — perhaps it is related to the idea of how and why indigenous cultures are understood to have consumed cacao: with spices such as cinnamon or as this research paper reveals: chili (though the paper still has many questions), and as a special, ceremonial or ritual act. The history of cacao and customs of that cacao are always of interest to us.

When we broke off a small piece of this bar for consumption, we enjoyed the medium-strength snap and the strong aroma of the bar — like earthy spicy chocolate fresh from the cocoa warehouse… No, even better. Even more lyrical!

The aroma of this 65% Óbolo bar transported us. We imagined the lid to a piece of classic pottery being slowly lifted, and the rich, comforting aromas of roasted cocoa beans and smoked chilies filling the air. Grounding, rich, heavy aromas. And the spectators staring, wide-eyed in awe.

It was us who turned wide-eyed when we took a bite of this chocolate bar. Spicy! Strong! This bar does not give a “slight nod” to the chili; it’s a full orchestra; chili dominates. The chili is potent. Merkén smoked chili pepper is (sometimes) combined with ground coriander and salt. The list of ingredients on this bar’s packaging did not reveal that combination, though. The smokiness of the chili, along with dark, bitter chocolate, continued to dance on the taste-buds.

This bar’s recipe teeters on the edge of too much spice, but is also deliciously playful.

Tasting: First the smoked chili dances with the bitter cacao, and quickly reveals that it will lead the choreography. The smoked chili holds the power and dominance. Another bite. The smoked chili, like smoke itself, permeates everywhere. You cannot escape it. It clouds the room. It’s in every morsel. If the smoked chili in this chocolate bar were personified, it delivers an unexpected knock at the door: “Wake up!” You were sleeping. Once awake, you’ve metaphorically opened a window, and the smoke can dissipate. The dark chocolate moves forward at the finish. Now the smoked chili has happily retreated and leaves you to your own creativity. There is something magical about this bar, that’s for certain.

We definitely consider this Óbolo bar a time cupsoul; the smoked chili adds something extremely special to this experience. The bar has the power to transport you to another world, and down to Chile, South America. We’ve never tasted a chocolate bar spiced quite like this and if you’re adventurous and open to “heat,” we cannot recommend this bar highly enough.

This post is not sponsored and the chocolate bar was purchased using personal funds.

[New Poster Series: “Origin Travel” During COVID-19] Monday Melt!

Monday Melt’s often include inspiring chocolate posters, but during theses strange times of physical distancing, we’ll be posting vintage posters every Monday for the next 8 weeks to help us “travel the world,” and remain hopeful that we will venture again. In this poster’s case, today we’re “traveling,” safely from our homes, to Brazil.

Which origin are you enjoying right now? Comment below and we’ll find a poster for next week. Take care.

For more coffee posters, peruse our pinterest:

Time Cupsoul: Weekend Reads [“The World Atlas of Coffee”]

Experiencing a time cupsoul is all about finding time that sparks inspiration, passion, illumination, serenity and escape. A visit to a coffee shop or chocolatier certainly may ignite this sense of creativity, but there is another avenue, via reading.

The World Atlas of Coffee” by James Hoffmann is a perfect example of a time cupsoul in a book. The design of “The World Atlas of Coffee” is stunning, filled with gorgeous pictures of coffee berries, coffee farms, latte art, and only the best high-definition images of the coffee world that a reader could hope for.

The book starts by explaining the current coffee scene, then discusses the tree (the fruit, the varieties, harvesting, processing, roasting, and of course, tasting…), and then, delves into topics related to consumption, all in beautiful detail, with paragraphs, pictures, drawings, and text boxes filled with tidbits and explanations.

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Time Cupsoul enjoys “The World Atlas of Coffee” with cafe au lait

One element of the text especially relevant for Time Cupsoul is the chapter regarding brewing and drinks. Illustrations of popular espresso drinks are accompanied with the history and origin of liquid recipes, including the macchiato, cappuccino and flat white. Hoffmann provides insightful background on the name, contents and the drinks’ traditions to better equip a coffee lover with ideas for what to try next.

The subsequent part of the book is devoted to “origins,” which is most akin to a traditional atlas. Major coffee-growing regions are explored in fine detail, with maps showcasing the areas of cultivation and their flavor profiles, history of cultivation and/or drinking in the specific country, and bean traceability. As a reader, one can turn to the region (Africa, Asia, and the Americas), and then sort by country, such as, Ecuador, Colombia, or Indonesia, and discover at least a two-page spread of knowledge for each nation. Again, superb information for exploring new beans and roasts.

This book is so visually attractive that coffee novices will be delighted with the layout and typography. For coffee aficionados, this book is a gold mine.

In summation, “The World Atlas of Coffee” is filled with a great wealth of wonderful coffee information and Hoffmann serves it with an innovative atlas mentality (thus far only shared with “The World Atlas of Wine”). The amount of succinctly developed commodity research residing in one book is what makes “The World Atlas of Coffee” a beautiful addition to the coffee table, yes, and a book with an encyclopedia level of high regard.

For further information, an article regarding the opus (from the author himself), is found here.

IKA Chocolate//איקה שוקולד: Best Chocolate in Israel

Please introduce yourself to the best chocolate in Israel: Ika Chocolate.

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Time Cupsoul had ample occasion to sample Israeli chocolate brands during her beloved travels: the famous Israeli Krembo (delicious), Strauss Group’s Elite chocolate bars (delicious), Max Brenner chocolate fondue desserts (delicious) and even the creations of many smaller Israeli chocolatiers at the Chocolate Festival in Tel Aviv (here, here). Israeli chocolate is unique and delightful and perhaps it will surprise you to learn: Israel is a great country to buy chocolate from. With all this said, Ika Chocolate proved itself as the best chocolate in all of Israel.

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CLOSED: Gerald//ג׳ראלד, Tel Aviv’s Most Decadent Pastisserie

The Swiss patisserie, Gerald, arrived in Tel Aviv in August and immediately set the standard for impeccable service, quality, flavor and decadence. Visible from Ibn Gabriol, a major street in the metropolis, Gerald’s large glass windows allow a preview inside of the shop.

Clean, exact, methodically placed pastries line up gently in a crystal clear display bar flanked by wooden shelves filled with coffee beans, white mugs and saucers, and, of course, a shiny silver espresso machine. The attention to detail at Gerald is geometric heaven. Placement and cleanliness reign supreme in a locale where sugar and chocolate could certainly escape and decorate the counters. Yet everything about Gerald remains pristine and correct. The display case begs to be photographed and admired.

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