November 28, 2011

Hot Chocolate Wars: RIM Cafe's Volcano

I'm not a coffee drinker but do crave a hot cup of cocoa pretty much every day during the winter. Last year I did a series of posts on hot chocolate drinks around Philadelphia to share which cafes, shops and stands I prefer. This year I put out feelers on Twitter for new spots to try and several followers insisted I hit up RIM Cafe.

The counter at RIM Cafe
As a chocolate lover, I'm shocked that I'd never heard of RIM Cafe before. In my personal Hot Chocolate War, RIM is the clear winner when it comes to generating pure "oh my god" (as the owner says) hot chocolatey bliss. The French/Italian-influenced cafe at 9th and Federal is a total novelty but worth the trip for its famous Volcano and to meet the Godfather-esque character behind the counter.

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.

Salted Caramel Volcano
                            Hunks of chocolate, nuts and dried fruit                             that Rene shaves on top of his Volcanos

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?

RIM Cafe
1172 South 9th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147 

Rim Cafe on Urbanspoon


A and J said...

Have you been to Golosa? I've heard it's good and it's really cute!

Kristy said...

Have not been to Golasa but its next on the list! Several people have recommended it. Just need to find time to get there...