Monsoon Chocolate Café + Market may have just relocated to the Copenhagen Design Center in June, but from the looks of things, the new kid on the block is fitting right in on the corner of Fort Lowell Road and Dodge Boulevard.
The new space is large, airy, and inviting with outstanding views of the Catalinas. Several high-top tables for two line the floor-to-ceiling front window. A bar with more high tops sits across the space. Four-top tables are in the back. Large, cottony, clouds, some of which flash with “lightning,” hang from the ceiling.
Although the original café on 22nd Street was a beautiful spot, it’s not as user-friendly as they’d hoped for.
“It was more of a destination place. We wanted the café to serve the community,” said co-owner and head chocolatier, Athene Kline.
According to co-owner Adam Krantz, who originally opened Monsoon in 2017, demand for their chocolate was so great from the very beginning that more production space was needed. Moving the café was the logical choice.
“Our customers are spread out over Tucson,” he said, “A lot of them are concentrated up in the Foothills and in Oro Valley. We wanted something that was close enough to the factory so we could logistically operate it, but also meet our customers halfway.”
Copenhagen Design Center was the ideal spot.
“And,” he added, “the owners of the building are lovely people.”
The cafe menu reads like an old-fashioned ice cream parlor splashed with a large dose of 21st-century sensibility. Espresso, cappuccino, lattes (chai and matcha included,) and all the usual suspects are there. A fine option is the Decibel Slushie — iced coffee to the max.
Coffees are from Decibel and teas are from Seven Cups.
Chocolate drinks come both hot and cold. There are three hot chocolate options, plus a sipping chocolate, hot cocoa, and a drinking cocoa. The cold drinks include Frocho (frozen hot chocolate,) cocoa nib horchata, a chocolate shake, and a chocolate malt. And for all you East Coasters, there’s chocolate phosphate. Talk about a blast from the past!
Pastry chef Carol Friel’s yummy creations include brownies, blondies, a half-dozen types of cookies, pot au crème, chocolate-covered marshmallows, and more. Gluten-free options are included.
Oh! About the ice cream…
“We always have a single-origin chocolate and use whatever we have on hand. We also always have a single-origin vanilla,” said Kline. Vegan options are available, too.
Cones and sundaes lead the ice cream menu, but you’ll also find a choco taco, a fudge pop, and an ice cream sammie. Made with chocolate orange cardamom ice cream stuffed between cocoa nib tuile cookies, this treat takes the idea of an ice cream sandwich to another level.
Of course, those divine, bejeweled, geometric, award-winning bon bons are noticeable as soon as you walk in the door. Monsoon’s chocolate is ethically sourced from around the world. But the flavors?
“We are inspired by local ingredients,” said Kline.
Prickly pear, mesquite, pomegranate, mezcal, chiltepin, cremes, caramels, nuts, and fruits — the list is mindboggling. Have two (or three or four) of them with a cup of espresso and your day is set.
Monsoon’s candy bars and gift boxes are also available.
The small, but thoughtfully curated, market lines the back wall.
“I spent a number of years as a specialty grocery retailer,” Krantz noted. His experience is apparent.
The shelves are packed with hard-to-find foods from companies that share Monsoon’s ethos of sustainability and giving back. Hayden Mills products, Momofuko noodle meals, vials of vanilla, Monsoon Chocolate dipped fruits, and goodies of all sorts can also be found.
“Ever since winning a Good Food Award in 2021,” said Krantz. “We’ve developed relationships and partnerships and it just seemed like it was the right fit to offer more things to our customers and introduce Tucson to some new products.”
The near future is full of exciting possibilities for the market and the café.
“We’d like to do tastings,” said Kline, “We want to do pairings with other local businesses like Tucson Hop Shop and Seven Cups, pairing chocolate with beer or tea.”
Krantz’s and Kline’s passion for all aspects of Monsoon Chocolate trickles down to the behind-the-scenes folks.
“One of the things that I’m really proud of with the cafe is our philosophy when it comes to ingredient sourcing,” said Krantz. “The lengths we go to in our chocolate-making process, we just kind of apply that across the board. I love the fact that they’re producing these beautiful pastries, these beautiful desserts.”
The front of the house also shares that ideal with smiles and outstanding service.
There truly is nothing else like this funky, chic, little spot in town.
With their commitment to ethical sourcing, outstanding foods, the use of local ingredients, partnerships they built, and warm, knowledgeable service, Monsoon Chocolate Café + Market is the very essence of Tucson’s culinary scene.
Monsoon Chocolate Café + Market is located at 3630 E. Fort Lowell Rd. and is open 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Tuesday-Sunday. The original location can be found at at 234 E. 22nd St. For more information, visit monsoonchocolate.com and follow Monsoon Chocolate on Instagram.
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Rita Connelly is the author of “Lost Restaurants of Tucson,” “Historic Restaurants of Tucson,” and “Arizona Chimichangas,”all published by The History Press. Growing up in a large Italian family instilled in her an appreciation for the important role food plays...