Crazy Mocha

By | October 20, 2006

Crazy Mocha
For locations and hours, check:

Ahhh….to be a dancing goat!  Spending idyllic hours frolicking in the meadows, high on caffeine while their shepherd drifts away in an unaware sleep.  Nibbling on little buzzing berries all the livelong day, with their freaky horizontal pupils.  Doing continuous backflips over fences, with their backward facing knees.  Wearing little bowler hats and velour vests with pocket watches doing jigs in my living room when all of the sudden this pancake walks in arm-in-arm with a tin can and they’re ….oh wait, that was my dream last night…….ahem…anyway…Dancing Goats is the original name of the first location of Crazy Mocha on Ellsworth Ave in Shadyside.  On the menus they used to have a little legend about the origin of coffee being these goats eating these berries and they’d dance around so the goat herder tried the berries and then – TA DA! – coffee!  I guess it must have sunk deep into the folds of my brain because here I am dreaming of goats getting jiggy.  But irrespective of goats, dancing or otherwise, Crazy Mocha has become a heavyweight competitor in the local café battle, with its recent opening of several new storefronts.  And though usually I would be worried by such rapid expansion, I’m not this time.  They’ve got it mostly in the bag.  Pretty decent coffee, excellent non-coffee drinks, giant cheesecake slices (good ones) and free wireless internet – how could they lose!  

Well, I suppose there are ways they could lose.  Their wait staff is hip, but they are achingly slow at times, particularly at the Ellsworth location.  It isn’t even that they are goofing off or lazy or anything like that.  They are just so meticulous and methodical when doing things like swirling the delicious creamy stuff under your cheesecake into an artistic masterpiece, or lovingly arranging the foam on your cappuccino.  It is sort of hard to get mad because that creamy stuff is so good, and the cappuccino so frothy and delicious.  But still…it takes a damn long time to get service at the Ellsworth location.  Even if you are just getting a black cup of coffee, the servers are so preoccupied with other people’s artsy crème that it takes them a year to get to your table to even take your order.  Also, as long as I am revealing negative things about Crazy Mocha’s Ellsworth location, it’s a smoky as a bar in there and the waitresses often wear such low slung pants that I’ve seen many a crack float by mt table.

Even so, I still like this location best because it stays open late and has table service, and frankly I enjoy the gritty atmosphere.  I also frequent the Crazy Mocha in Bloomfield because it is next door to the dessertless Tessaro’s.  My real job is in Oakland, so I happily stop by this location as well.  The Lawrenceville location is great, and I’ve even been to the one in the South Side Works a few times.  They all have a slightly different feel, commensurate with the hip twenty-somethings of the neighborhood.  But you don’t have to be a hip twenty-something to enjoy Crazy Mocha, and it isn’t even alienating.  I see all kinds of age groups and types of people at Crazy Mocha.  This would be because they have a good product, and that will always transcend the lines that normally divide.

So let’s talk about this good product for a minute.  You can get a good cup of black coffee here (though it doesn’t beat Coffee Tree), and a variety of excellent espresso drinks.  They have a whole menu of espresso concoctions, and by the way they make a macchiato like it should be made (as opposed to the frappa-fied nightmare at Starbucks).  They also have milkshakes, Italian sodas and tea.  They don’t have the amazing tea selection of 61C, but they DO have the best chai tea latte I have ever found.  It is so good because they don’t make it with the sugary junk in a box, but rather a tea bag, frothy milk, and honey.  The honey sits on top of the froth, and it is one of life’s little joys to drink a big cup of this stuff, getting a little taste of honey in every sip.  If you go get this, make sure to ask for it made with the tea bag and honey, as they keep the boxed stuff on hand for those who prefer it.

But the drinks aren’t the only reason to go to Crazy Mocha.  They service a great need in the Pittsburgh landscape – a place for dessert.  That’s right – I don’t think the dessert scene in the ‘burgh is that great!  Gullifty’s is SO overrated; Aladdin’s desserts too.  Klavon’s is great, but doesn’t stay open late enough.  Dave & Andy’s is good for ice cream, but you can’t sit down there with a cup of coffee and chat.  Restaurants hate it when you show up and order just dessert.  Other cafés carry mostly little baked goods suitable for snacking or breakfast.  Tango Café comes close, but not quite all the way.  So I ask of you, WHERE IS ALL THE CAKE?!?!

Answer: It’s at Crazy Mocha!  (Ellsworth location especially)  Hooray, cake at last!  And not some crappy mile-high dry wedge of flavorless gunk either!  (atch-HOOgullify’s)  (atch-HOOaladdin’s)  In fact, they have a number of kinds of cakes, of chocolate and fruity flavors, my most favoritist being the cheesecakes.  The fruity cheesecakes, specifically.  And they are just as huge as the best of ‘em!  In fact, they are actually really really big so usually one slice will feed two people.  And they embed these luscious treats in fluffy cream with caramel or raspberry sauce swirled in.  It is all so good!

It is all so good, but also it is a little expensive too.  A slice of cake will run you something like 8 bucks.  But if you split it with someone, it becomes reasonable, and the coffee drinks aren’t all too expensive to begin with.  All in all, it is a pretty fair deal, and a tasty experience.  This is the reason they’ve expanded so successfully.  Now I’m not saying they are so successful that they don’t need your help.  If you haven’t been, or are looking for a good place to get a piece of cake, give Crazy Mocha a shot.  Have a shot too, of espresso, and maybe soon you will be dreaming of dancing goats too.

Chai Tea Latte
Cake (cheesecake especially)

When you first get to Crazy Mocha, peruse the dessert case very carefully.  They don’t have a list on a menu, so when your server shows up you better know what you want!

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