Fun Fact: Zeke’s Hot Cocoa is made in-house

Impress your Pittsburgh foodie friends; Zeke’s hot chocolate is made using Mon Aimee chocolate + Turner’s Milk. We breakdown the artisanal goodness below.

by Nicolette Kalafatis
January 22, 2019

Zeke’s Coffee has been a hometown favorite nestled in the busy streets of East Liberty for seven years now. The hip industrial-chic style has combined the location’s authentic Pittsburgh roots with a modernized tweak that makes anybody feel welcome. Their logo is one of the most easily recognized of any small business in the city, even from far away, and their coffee keeps the doors swinging all day long. Although it’s not just their coffee to celebrate, the ingredients they use for other drinks and food that earn them the utmost respect of the coffee scene in Pittsburgh.

Photo: Nicolette Kalafatis

Only the best ingredients

With a sign hanging above their fresh-baked treat options, Zeke’s proudly displays their dedication to making the best possible product with using only local, organic and fair-trade ingredients. “We bake in house daily and we’re proud of what we serve,” the sign reads, however that creed applies not only to their food but their drinks as well. I was able to sit down with Amanda Patton, Zeke’s bakery manager, to learn how they make their very own hot cocoa mix in house.

Photo: Nicolette Kalafatis

Made with Mon Aimee Chocolate, Turner’s Milk and Pittsburgh love

Many shops in Pittsburgh and beyond use syrups or pre-made mixes for their hot chocolates or mochas. After trying syrups, mixes, and even ganaches, this particular Zeke’s location took it upon themselves to create their own recipe, resulting in a delicious, semi-sweet, dark hot chocolate, also used for their mochas.

Keeping true to their local and fair-trade code, Zeke’s sources their chocolate from Mon Aimee Chocolate, located in the strip. The chocolate from Mon Aimee, which is 70% oil dark chocolate, is then taken back to Zeke’s where the bakery team grinds it together with sugar, cocoa powder, fair-trade vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt to make the proprietary blend used for the drinks. The hot chocolate is made by first steaming the milk (Turner’s!) fully, dropping two scoops of the chocolate powder into half of the steamed milk, effectively whisking it together, and then topping it off with the other half of the steamed milk. The end result is a rich cup of hot cocoa, more chocolatey than most but not nearly as sweet. The delightful dark chocolate flavor is tasted at first sip and lingers long after, making the drink worthy of the heartiest *chef’s kiss*.

Photo: Nicolette Kalafatis

Pittsburgh should feel so special to have access to this wonderful drink, considering it is the only Zeke’s location out of the three to use this homemade blend. The other two locations, located in Baltimore and Washington D.C., use pre-made mixes. And Pittsburghers sure do love it. Amanda said that a 4 to 5 quart container full of powder, with servings ranging from a little less than a full tablespoon to 2 full tablespoon scoops, can run out in about 3 days in a normal week. During slower weeks, though, that container may last the full seven days.

Everybody has their preferred level of sweetness when it comes to chocolate. Some prefer milk chocolate, some prefer dark or white chocolate, but no matter your preference, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll enjoy this drink. Stop into Zeke’s on Penn Avenue in East Liberty to get your very own and find out what you’ve been missing!

Everything you need to know about visiting Zeke’s for hot chocolate or coffee

Website: Zeke’s Website

Hours (East Liberty):

  • Mon thru Sat (7 am to 8 pm)
  • Sun (8 am to 7 pm)

Parking situation:

  • Street parking in East Liberty varies. There is a parking lot behind Zeke’s on Broad Street. Definitely a good place to use the Pittsburgh Parking App.

Follow Zeke’s! 

Zeke's Coffee Pittsburgh
Getting there
6015 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206, USA

This post was originally published on February 27, 2019. We’ve updated the post with the current details.

Nicolette is a lifetime Pittsburgh resident who spends too much of her time in coffee shops. A freelance photographer and journalist, you can find her shooting pool at a local dive bar, finding the best live music around town or hanging out at her favorite restaurants.

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