Coffee isn’t a choice. It has been a way of life. Ever since that fateful day my sophomore year of college when I was desperate enough for a little extra weeks during finals week, I ditched soda and sugary carbonation for the inimitable flavor and charge of that little roasted brown bean.
And whenever I travel to a new town, there three things that I have to fine in order to turn that city into a surrogate home: the local bookstore, an old bar, and an artisanal coffee shop. This blog will be a written testimony of the best coffee dens in the Holy City herself, Charleston.
Here are the basic ground rule. The establishment will be judged on the following four categories: coffee (flavor), food (variety and taste), atmosphere (presentation, seating space, music), and extra goodies (wi-fi, air conditioning, memorabilia, etc.). Also, I will exempt any national chains so as to absorb the distinct caffeinated taste of Charleston. So, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Krispy Kreme are disqualified. Without further ado, next up is…
Christophe Artisan Chocolatier-Patissier Where: 90 Society St., Charleston, SC 29401
Coffee: 20 oz. French Press Coffee Given the decadent, intricate, and delightfully specific chocolate concoctions (ranging from ,but not limited to, mango rum, cinnamon, lavender caramel, strawberry marshmellow, and blue cheese), when it came to the coffee portion of my order I stuck with the traditional caffeinated beverage of France. The coffee, with a sprinkle of cream, was full bodied and flavorful (as is typical of the French press style) but it wasn’t overpowering. If your sweet tooth has drawn you into Christophe’s, then don’t be a stranger to the coffee. It’s worth indulging in.
Food: White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookie This is a fair warning to any pedestrians out there in Charleston. You will want to spend all your money on the chocolate goods at Christophe’s. From their artisanal chocolates to their pecan pie and croissants, the kings of sweets don’t fall short on the food department. I opted for the simple yet textured white chocolate macadamia nut cookie because not only is it my favorite type of cookie, I wanted to see if Christophe’s could get a simple thing like a cookie right before I would venture out to their more ornate offerings. To put it simply, the cookie was a masterpiece. Well, as much a masterpiece as a cookie can possibly be. It was layered with flavor, had plenty of nuts and chocolate within its center, and it had the right balance of crunch and chewy. It was a refreshing relief that an artisanal and sophisticated chocolatier can do the sophisticated and the simple with such skill.
Atmosphere: As soon as one enters Christophe’s, one is underwhelmed with how little room there appears to be in the entire shop. But the chocolatier is sneaky in that regard. There is ample seating behind the building via a cute alleyway that leads to comfortable patio section. It is a clean, crisp almost clean kitchen environment throughout the interior. All the better to enjoy the magnificent snacks on a blank canvas so as to not interfere with the supernova that is about to unleash on any lucky customer’s taste buds.
Extra Goodies: Right off King Street and tucked into a inconspicuous alcove of Society Street, one can grab a quick chocolate or mousse and be ear shot of all the main shops and purveyors of downtown Charleston.
Final Ranking: Christophe Artisan Chocolatier-Patissier turns extravagant presentation and explosive taste into a science. The most remarkable thing is that all of that quality coffee and food won’t rob you of your wallet, with everything on the menu reasonable priced. However, it won’t matter. You’ll want to give them all your money after a few bites.