|The counter at RIM Cafe|
RIM's Volcano hot chocolate drinks come in 12 flavors from traditional to White Raspberry, and "Spicy" to Mozzarella Marshmallow Brulee. I picked Salted Caramel (the most popular) and Bradd chose Nutty Peanut Butter. The kicker is that they run from $7 - $15. Yeah, that's ridiculous for hot chocolate but I still think its worth saving your pennies and going at least once.
Owner Rene Kobeitri encourages you to watch him "make it a-happen" - a phrase you'll hear 25+ times and see on t-shirts throughout the excessively ornate shop. Not sure what his secret is behind the counter, but once prepped he pours the hot chocolate into glasses in front of you (first pic below) and proceeds to shave chocolates, nuts and fruit on top, explaining each as he goes (second pic). Between our two drinks, he added shaved dark chocolate, white chocolate, peanuts, cashews, pistachio, papaya, cranberry and more. My Salted Caramel Volcano also came with drizzled caramel squeezed across the top before all the shavings (third pic).
The toppings blend together into a rich and flavorful treat that you may need a spoon to finish - at minimum a napkin to wipe away all the extra shavings and caramel that end up on your face. In case you are worried with all those toppings, the result is not so sweet that you end up with a sugar headache after. The sweet and salty mix within our choices was just right. Nutty Peanut Butter was very good but we both preferred Salted Caramel.
Just as important, RIM Cafe passed my heat retention test. The thing that frustrates me most about hot chocolate in cafes is that it's often only lukewarm upon arrival. RIM must pour its Volcanos so piping hot that even halfway through the drink there is still borderline risk for a burned tongue. I'd rather wait a few seconds for it to cool than drink lukewarm cocoa any day.
The Volcano is definitely not your typical hot chocolate experience but worth a try - and a visit to RIM Cafe for all the crazy decor and a chat with Rene about how he "makes it happen." Words on the sign aren't very big, but look for this busy shop on the corner of 9th and Federal, decorated with a gigantic blow up Santa during the holidays.
Next up: Milkboy Coffee and Cafe Lutecia. Any others I should try this year?
1172 South 9th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147