Cacao Sampaka is a shop for chocolate lovers, with a huge selection of handmade artisan chocolates and a cafe in the back of the store that puts all that chocolate to good use in various sweets and desserts. The shop actually has several locations all over the world, but the one I visited was in the Eixample, in Barcelona. Just off one of the biggest streets in the city, it’s easy to find and offers a great place to get a chocolate fix while you’re out shopping.
When I went in, I was immediately impressed with the variety of chocolate they offered. Not only did they have a huge variety of artisan truffles and other chocolates, but they had chopped chocolate for baking, a variety of cocoa powders and plenty of chocolate chips. There were single-origin chocolates, adult chocolates filled with liquors and specialty chocolates in every flavor you could think of – including a stollen-flavored truffle for the holidays. It was a little overwhelming to think that I had to narrow down what I wanted to try, but there is a lovely cafe in the back of the shop where you can taste some chocolates, drink some coffee or hot chocolate and regroup before deciding what you want to take home with you.
Thick, velvety hot chocolate is very popular all over Spain (I had it in Madrid last year and also made it at home), and Barcelona is no exception. Cacao Sampaka offered their own hot chocolate blend in the cafe in the back of the chocolate shop with hot chocolate and all kinds of other goodies. They have two kinds of chocolate: one plain dark chocolate and one Azteca, also dark with spices added to it. I opted for the classic dark chocolate version and it was intense! It had rich, fruity cocoa flavor to it and was smooth and creamy. It was served with a spoon and I definitely noticed that everyone in the shop used theirs to sip the chocolate, rather than drinking the rich liquid directly from the cup.
Chocolate with churros was a fixture in other parts of Spain and I had been told by travel-loving friends that they just weren’t as popular in Barcelona. This seemed like it might be the case as the hot chocolate at Cacao Sampaka was offered with melindros – ladyfinger cookies – rather than churros as a prix fix set. The woman at the counter really tried to get me to order the churros (which they did have and were not the hot-from-the-fryer churros you would want with hot chocolate) because, as she told me, they were traditional. I stuck to my guns and the melindros were delicious! Fresh, soft and slightly sweet, they held onto that thick chocolate sauce beautifully when I dipped them (and I got a lot more of them than I would have been given with the churro option).
The cafe had all kinds of other snacks, both sweet and savory, and I couldn’t resist trying a few more things. They had a chocolate sampler, where you could choose any four chocolates from the shop for just a few euros. My chocolates included vanilla bean, calvados and single-origin Papa New Guinea chocolates. The vanilla bean (center) was, hands down, my favorite of the bunch. It had vanilla bean “caviar” all over the top of the truffle and the vanilla flavor really shone through the very dark, smooth truffle center. The chocolates were picture perfect, as well.
I also tried the gelato sampler. The chocolate gelato was definitely the standout of the bunch, with the creamiest texture and a not-too-sweet flavor that made it seem very rich and chocolaty. The others were just ok and didn’t have the creaminess of the chocolate, although I was full from the other treats I tried, so I didn’t feel too bad about skipping out on a few bites of gelato.
Overall, Cacao Sampaka is a chocolate shop that does an outstanding job with their chocolates. They have almost every flavor you could want and they’re always coming up with new, seasonal ideas. The cafe is a great place to sample chocolates or other desserts while you’re out in Barcelona, and gives you time to narrow down the options so you buy a box that you really want when you’re leaving.
C/ Consell de Cent, 292