It’s a Monday morning in Cafe Moka, and you’re sitting at the high tables near the window with your earbuds in, no music playing. You catch fragments of the Daily Runner editorial team (plus guest star, comedian and coffee lover, Christa Fisher) as they sit around a large table in the back. They’re trying out Moka’s new fall menu and they have some things to say. Sara has taken a risk and is holding a foaming Moka Cola while Chloe sips a sparkling Back in the Day Cider. Andrew couldn’t wait for the 31st and chose the Halloween Mokatini, and the perpetually hungry Renée ordered the Moka Puffs Cereal.
Read on to hear the full discussion or scroll to the bottom to find out the definitive ratings.
On three they all toast the Daily Runner and take their first sips.
Renée Hogan: … 1, 2, 3!
Sara Waits: It tastes like Coke with coffee in it…
RH: I’m a little confused.
Andrew Corder: It’s really, really strong.
RH: This is abnormally sweet.
Chloe Kaspar: This is good… it tastes, uh… There are rogue floating bits in it.
AC: It tastes like a masculine barbecue again. [Ask us about the Blackberry Coffee Lemonade next spring.]
On the Moka Cola
SW: Look at the froth! This is really aesthetic, I really enjoy this.
RH: Can I try it even though I’m disgusted?
SW: Take a proper sip. The foam is straight coffee, so be careful.
RH: Oh, no… I can’t even deal with the smell.
CK: What is it?
AC: It’s so weird… I don’t know what to make of it.SW: If you drink it through the straw you get more of the Coke flavor.
CK: I don’t think I like yours Sara…
RH: Nothing can be as bad as the Sweet and Salty…
SW: It gets more coffee as I drink it – I forgot to tell you she gave a warning when she handed it to me, “Be careful with stirring; it gets very foamy.”
RH: It bubbles over with rage.
SW: It makes me feel bitter inside.
RH: This is a suave man who has a reactive temper, gets really sensitive and then blows up on you. This drink is Sara’s ex-husband.
SW: Sparkly, kind of glittery on the surface but is bitter underneath. And he gets more bitter over time.
AC: Like his marriage.
RH: And he’s very reactive, everything that happens he’s like “let’s go.”
SW: He froths at the mouth.
RH: He’s actually possessed.
On the Salty Sweet Moka
RH: I like this less and less the more I drink it… Try it.
AC: Ah, it tastes like sea water with espresso.
RH: With a splash of milk. Maybe they should call it the “White Cap Moka” instead.
AC: It’s like it’s trying to be fall, but it can’t quite let go of summer.
RH: Just like the weather…
CK: UGH! It’s all salt. Like a savory meal.
AC: [It] is just someone who is soooo salty and fake.
On the Halloween MokatiniAC: I think my favorite thing is how they did the cup – for Halloween this is nice.
[Hands it to Sara, who immediately makes a face.]
AC: Well, it’s a no from Sara.
SW: It’s okay, at first it just tastes like milk a lot… then the aftertaste is bad.
RH: It’s very aggressive.
SW: A mokatini sounds like it’s going to be fancy.
AC: It just seems like a person who sings “THIS IS HALLOWEEN” at the top of their lungs and wears all black.
[Everyone joins in song.]
RH: September 1st and they don cat ears.
SW: Not as a costume but a fashion choice.
AC: I like it, but I don’t know if I’d order it again because it’s so small.
SW: With how strong it is, it needs to be this small so you don’t die.
CK: Or you’d go into cardiac arrest.
RH: Give us a caffeine rating later.
[Andrew reported later that the caffeine high lasted 7.5 hours, and after a whirlwind day he crashed like a zombie… very Halloween.]
On the Back in the Day Cider (Sparkling)
AC: Chloe’s is amazing.
RH: Very magical and fall.
CK: It’s refreshing.
SW: It’s everything you want.
RH: We have a winner!
CK: I feel like mine tastes like a golden lion looks… it’s so effervescent.
SW: I feel like the hot version would taste good too. You really get the orange zest.
CK: Is that what’s floating around?
AC: Chloe’s is a girl with auburn hair wearing a cardigan… she’s wearing the outfit that [Renée] wore to church on Sunday, and she reads in the fall leaves.
[Enter Christa Fisher. All of the drinks are placed in front of her for her expert opinion. She tries Andrew’s Mokatini and says, “Ooo, I felt that.”]
On the Moka Puffs Cereal
RH: Mine isn’t surprising.
AC: It just tastes like cocoa puffs in coffee basically.
RH: It’s a lot of milk though, it’s just a splash of coffee in your cereal.
[Chloe violently sneezes to the horror of the editor]
SW: It’s a good snack; it’s a two and one.
RH: If you’re running late to class and you need a quick breakfast.
CK: It’s a person who tells you who they are and they were right, you know? There’s no surprises.
RH: They aren’t fancy sophisticated or mysterious but-
CK: There’s no nuance to them.
RH: … but they’re dependable and sweet.
On the Autumn Tea Latte
SW: It’s just good… it tastes like all their tea lattes. They’re just good.
RH: It’s a very beautiful thing.
AC: So, the autumn tea latte is a librarian.
On the Virginia Fall Iced Tea
RH: The tea is actually more painful than anything. It’s deceptive because it tastes like tea, and it’s sweet and nice, but then it has an obscene amount of cayenne pepper in it. As you’re drinking, it just burns your internal organs. It was another one we couldn’t finish, like the Sweet and Salty Moka.
SW: [This drink] is petty
RH: Someone who you see and say, “Oh, she looks sweet,” but noooo. It’s just a backstabber.
AC: It looks okay but as soon as you get to know it…
RH: SHE GON’ HURT U!
On the Golden Turmeric Chai Latte
AC: It looks like raw egg and squash.
CK: NO, IT’S TURMERIC!
CF: [Takes a sip] Hm, I gotta think about that… [Passes it]
AC: [Makes a face] That foamy stuff?
RH: Oh, there’s soy milk in it.
CF (who’s lactose intolerant): OH, PRAISE GOD!
AC: If that’s a person, it’s an old lady wearing straight yellow.
CF: It’s too zesty for that.
RH: I mean, it could be a lady like my grandma: a zesty funky lady.
SW: It tastes like Thanksgiving. It’s kind of savory with all the peppercorn. I feel like I’m eating a turkey; it tastes like stuffing.
AC: And gourds.
RH: It smells like a farmer’s market. It tastes like it could heal you of something, like someone would give it to you if you were dying.
SW: Well, turmeric is very good for you; we give it to my dog for his various ailments.
CK: This tastes like a round woman who rides the subway.
AC: She buys vegetables from the market.
RH: You say you have a cold or a headache and she says, “Honey, I got something for that!”
SW: She digs in her Mary Poppins bag… like that man we met in the New York Disney store who gave us unmarked pills.
SALTY SWEET MOKA
[double espresso / sweet ground cocoa / milk / caramel / sea salt]
Overall Rating: 2/10
Autumnal Rating: 🍁
What it evokes: A day at the beach where you put your towel too close to the tide and while engrossed in a trash romance novel you get an unsuspecting mouthful of seawater.
MOKA PUFFS CEREAL
[Coco Puffs / double espresso / vanilla / milk / topped with marshmallows + chocolate drizzle]
Overall Rating: 8/10
Autumnal Rating: 🍁🍁
What it evokes: Finally appreciating the grown-up humor in your favorite show from childhood.
[Mexican Coke / vanilla / topped with double espresso / served on ice]
Overall Rating: Starts as a 7/10 but sours into a 2/10 by the bitter end.
Autumnal Rating: 🍁🍁
What it evokes: The initial bubbly excitement of a new semester that devolves into the sober reality of finals week.
[quadruple espresso / pumpkin spice / chocolate / nutmeg / cream / shaken with ice + strained]
Overall Rating: 6/10
Autumnal Rating: 🍁🍁🍁🍁
What it evokes: A ghost spinning in circles while trapped in your great-grandmother’s attic.
GOLDEN TUMERIC CHAI LATTE
[Ceylon black tea / honey / cinnamon / star minse / peppercorn / clove / ginger / vanilla / turmeric / soy milk]
Overall Rating: 7/10
Autumnal Rating: 🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁
What it evokes: A turkey.
AUTUMN TEA LATTE
[English Breakfast tea / pumpkin spice / vanilla / milk / topped with cinnamon + vanilla + nutmeg]
Overall Rating: 9/10
Autumnal Rating: 🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁
What it evokes: Curling up to watch an actually successful remake of an old favorite.
VIRGINIA FALL ICED TEA
[Earl Grey tea / orange zest / cayenne pepper / shaken with ice]
Overall Rating: 3/10
Autumnal Rating: 🍁🍁🍁
What it evokes: The biting-sting-of-death aspect of fall. The transition when the color of the season wears off and you’re left with bare trees and the cold.
BACK IN THE DAY CIDER
[Spiced apple cider / orange zest / served in club soda + ice if cold]
Overall Rating: 9/10
Autumnal Rating: 🍁🍁🍁🍁
What it evokes: Sunday afternoons when the light streams through the windows at just the right angle to see the tiny glinting particles that float and whirl in the air.
Renée Hogan is a department head for the Daily Runner.