Editor’s Note: This is a review of a new product available at the Wedge Co-op. The Wedge gave us two flavors of Crio Brü for review.
Opening a package of Crio Brü releases an intoxicating aroma of chocolatey goodness, and a look inside reveals coarsely ground roasted cocoa beans. That’s it … no sugar and no additives (as well as no fat and very few calories). “Brews Just Like Coffee,” the package boasts, giving you an alternative to the powder mix cocoas that dissolve in hot water or milk. Crio Brü wants to offer its brewed cocoa not only as an alternative to powder mix but also to coffee. This caffeine-free drink is packed with theobromine, which is a natural stimulant found in cocoa and tea. The packaging also boasts that the cocoa bean is a “superfood” due to its high levels of antioxidants, magnesium, chromium, and zinc.
The instructions for brewing say to use either a drip coffee maker or a French Press. I used a French Press, and luckily mine happens to be an insulated model because you steep the beans for a good while – 8-12 minutes. When I made this at work one day and didn’t have my French Press handy, I simply poured boiling water over the ground beans in a tea pot and then filtered it after the steep time, but the cocoa didn’t turn out as hot as I would have liked. If you don’t have an insulated press, I’d recommend covering your pot with a kitchen towel while the cocoa steeps.
The brewed cocoa smells just as wonderful when it steeps as the first whiff out of the package, and the earthy flavor makes for a whole new experience in a familiar beverage. Without any sweetener or dairy product the brewed cocoa tastes like an unsweetened cocoa infused tea. It’s a little hard to describe; it lacks the sweet beverage appeal on its own, but you have a uniquely satisfying hot beverage that is unlike any other. Of course, if you want the sweet taste added back (like my children did), you can simply add sugar or your sweetener of choice. I also experimented with adding cream, which enriches the drink in a way that I preferred. For the kids, I also prepared the brewed cocoa with hot milk instead of water, and along with some sugar it produced the “familiar” cocoa taste, but with an added complexity and dynamic flavor profile unparalleled by powder brands.
The Wedge sells three flavors of Crio Brü in the coffee/tea section: Vega Real, Coca River, and Cavalla. They were out of stock on the Cavalla when I was shopping, but I can attest to the others. The Vega Real is made with cocoa beans from Dominican Republic, with flavors of berry and citrus; it was the general favorite among my friends and family. The Coca River is made with cocoa beans from Ecuador, and is flavored with notes of green banana and blackberries. This one tasted earthier and was my personal favorite.
The Wedge sells 9oz bags of Crio Brü for $8.99 each, which is $3 less per bag than the official Crio Brü website sells them for. That said, it’s a little more expensive than what I like to spend for coffee and far more than bulk cocoa powder and sugar, but you certainly get what you pay for with this beverage. For more information, you can check out the Crio Brü website; there’s a great review on the Wedge website.
Benjamin Krikava lives in north Minneapolis with his family. After over a decade of restaurant work he has moved on to be employed in the medical field, now helping to prevent heart attacks rather than cause them. When he's not at work or on his bicycle you will find him in the kitchen drinking the rest of the bottle of wine that the recipe didn't call for. His last article for us was: Co-op on a Budget: The Wedge Co-op vs. Cub Foods.