Smile Politely

In the market for some mocha

With the temperatures slowly shifting from summer into fall, more and more I buy hot coffee drinks over cold ones. I have a few go-to drinks, one of them being a mocha, which is a latte consisting of espresso, dark or white chocolate (usually in syrup form), and milk.

All of the mochas I tried were made with dark chocolate and I tried to get the same size from each place; however, a “small” versus” medium” versus “regular” varied from place to place. If you haven’t ventured to have a mocha, or just need a reason to try out another coffee shop around town, here are some places serving up some mighty tasty versions.


If you’re looking for coffee in Downtown Champaign, you have several places to choose from. One of them is Aroma on N Neil Street, with its colorful teal and yellow awning beckoning you inside. This shop is homey and cheerful with scarred wooden floors and bright yellow walls. The small mocha I ordered here was served incredibly hot, which I tend to prefer, as I like to be able to sip on my drink for longer than five to ten minutes before it gets cold. Even through the sleeve on the cup, I could feel the sting of the heat of this drink. Aroma was one of two places that offered whipped cream instead of leaving a foam top. Of course it’s optional but I find that whipped cream rounds out perfectly the decadence of a drink like a mocha. Aroma’s mocha was a bit on the milky side, which made it less sweet, more like a cafe au lait with a splash of chocolate. The espresso flavor was also less strong but it was a perfectly respectable drink and I was able to savor it for quite a while. A mocha at Aroma will run you $3.85 for a 12oz.

118 N Neil St
M-F 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Sa + Su 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Art Mart

Art Mart can be described as “this place has everything,” and is conveniently located in the middle of Champaign. Art Mart makes many treats in-house, including some of the best croissants in town, but also boasts a terrific cafe. Most of the parking is located on two sides of the building. The cafe has a lot of natural light from the large windows facing the street and many tables for a leisurely stay (though there is no wifi available). A 12oz. mocha costs $3.99, which sits right in the middle of the price scale. The mocha is very well balanced with milk, espresso, and the chocolate syrup, and served with a bit of decorative foam. The one I grabbed for this review was not the hottest one I have had from here, but it was by no means lukewarm. You’ll have a hard time walking away with only a coffee from Art Mart, as there are so many things to choose from.

Art Mart
1705 S Prospect Ave
M-Sa 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Su 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Avionics/Page Roasting Co.

Wonder where Midtown is? It’s an area of Champaign where Avionics lives on First Street just south of University Avenue. Avionics also owned the now-closed Flying Machine Coffee in Downtown Urbana, and they have a strong loyal following. The small space in the charming brick building is almost always filled up with students and townies alike. They have a handful of parking spots just outside the building, but you can also park around the corner at the Boneyard. The mocha from Avionics will run you $4.75 for a 12oz, which is steeper than most, but it’s made incredibly well. It is wonderfully bittersweet with the rich flavor of the espresso coming through the milk and chocolate, served with a decorative foam design, and also piping hot. You won’t be disappointed here.

202 S First St
M-F 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sa + Su 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Cafe Kopi

Cafe Kopi is a mainstay in Downtown Champaign on Walnut Street. The cafe skillfully serves a variety of drinks, some of which are unique to it. A medium mocha costs $4.15 but you get 16oz for that price.

Kopi is another place where you have plenty of tables to choose from for a short or long stay, and some terrific eats to boot. Kopi was the second of two places to offer whipped cream on the mocha, which I happily accepted. Easily discernible was the ratio of flavorful espresso to chocolate to milk, even with the larger size. It also came out incredibly hot, even with a sleeve on it. In fact, it was so hot that I was able to leave it in my car for a bit while I ran an errand, and it was still well above lukewarm when I returned.

Cafe Kopi
109 N Walnut St
7 a.m. to 11 p.m., daily

Photo by Jessica Hammie

Cafeteria & Company

Cafe & Co. isn’t hard to find if you’re driving through Urbana or shopping downtown, as it’s right on Main Street. There is a lot of street parking but if the meters are full, the parking garage is just down the street. It has a large expanse of windows that let in a lot of natural light to the large seating area inside. The mocha I got from here was served medium hot with a pretty decorative design in the foam. The ratio of chocolate to coffee to milk was very good, leaning towards mostly chocolatey. The espresso itself was not altogether remarkable but a strong coffee flavor was definitely there. At $4.25 plus 10.5% sales tax, it was one of the more expensive mochas I had, but it did hit the spot.

Cafeteria & Co.
208 W Main St
M-F 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sa + Su 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Clever Moose Cafe

If you have driven down South Neil Street and wondered what Lodgic is all about, they have both a restaurant and cafe that are open to the public. The Clever Moose Cafe sits just inside the main doors with a nice amount of seating and a grab-and-go market area.

This cafe has the lowest price of a mocha that I found, at $3.50 for a 12oz, though I discovered by accident on another occasion that they also have a happy hour sometimes (in the morning!) for half price. Still, it’s very reasonably priced already. The latte from Clever Moose was served medium hot but tasted very nicely bittersweet — it struck the right balance with the espresso, chocolate, and milk. It was served with a medium amount of foam and was a terrific start to my day.

Clever Moose Cafe
1807 S Neil St
M-F 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Sa + Su 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Photos by Zoe Valentine, except where noted

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