Paleo Mocha…Can It Be Done?

Hi Nell!
    I came across your site while searching for a paleo mocha so I figured I'd drop you a line as I've been unsuccessful in my quest as of yet.  I'm a CrossFitter, and I am fairly strict paleo, with the exception of the occasional (weekly or so) Starbucks Venti 8 pump, whole milk, no whip, no foam mocha.  It's a sugar nightmare, and I can stop anytime I want…no really….I can….but they're so good.

    Actually, I've gone without for a couple of weeks now, but am getting the urge again.  I've made various attempts at creating a palatable substitution, but they've all fallen woefully short.  I've used unsweetened cocoa, I've used 85% cacao chocolate and melted it in the mix, I've used heavy cream, coconut milk, almond milk, I've added cinnamon, vanilla, banana…even dates, all in various combinations,  but no luck so far as of yet.

I was wondering if you have any ideas, thoughts, recipes, gems, pearls…you get the possibly give me a recipe that I can embrace and indulge so I can stand proudly upright and enjoy a paleo treat!


I'm glad you asked this. It actually can be thought of as seasonally appropriate as well, since we all know that the holiday season is officially here once we see all the Starbuck's Christmas Beverages in the red cups! (Kidding… sort of…)

So first, let's deconstruct the current indulgence you have.  8 pumps.  OK.  Just this morning I popped into Starbucks for a black espresso and had a chance to spy behind the counter at the labels on the syrup containers.  

Oh, dear.

ONE PUMP is 100 kcals of liquid sugar.  There's 800 in your Venti Mocha right there.  Add two and a half cups of whole milk (20 oz), about 350 calories and you've got a 1,150 calorie, non Paleo 'sugar disaster' as you put it!

I'm a purist. I love a black espresso with nothing.  Premium beans and a top of the line grinder and espresso maker are must haves!  Yes, I'm admittedly a coffee snob.  I see it they way I see wine.  If you have a sip of red wine and it doesn't taste good, hopefully you don't drink it, but you certainly wouldn't add anything to it to change the taste, the way people do with their coffee.  

Poor quality coffee that comes from a vending machine, for example, might be doctored with all kinds of real or fake sugars, real or fake creamers and real or fake flavors.  

I say, just leave it. If the coffee is THAT bad, do you really want to drink it in the first place?

And now, moving along to the rest of your question.

If you're trying to create the OCCASIONAL, Paleo-OK 'mocha', here's what I'd do:

  1. Pour yourself a ristretto shot or two.
  2. BLEND, then WARM over medium, stirring constantly
  • REAL coconut milk (do NOT use canned- it usually contains guar gum- bean derived and laden with Saponins)
  • Honey 
  • Raw cacao nibs

    3.  Pour warmed coconut mixture onto espresso

    4.  Garnish with freshly ground cinnamon & nutmeg