CCU looked over the array of chocolates lining the shelf, glimmering with untold flavours, begging to be eaten. She noted the macaron tower, the dusting of glitter sparkling under the rays of light filtering in through the windows.
‘I could get used to this…’ she thought to herself, as she ambled around the shop, taking photos and enjoying the aroma of chocolate surrounding her.
She had no idea that out of this experience, she would be receiving a lot more than just a wonderful chocolate afternoon tea…
Have you ever experienced an epiphany? Met someone who made you wonder, question and think about life from a whole other perspective you thought might not even exist anymore?
In a world as corporate and money-minded as the one we live in today, it truly is now a dog-eat-dog-world. All the old sayings, such as ‘nice guys finish last’ are actually true and we have multinational corporations taking over small businesses and honing them to be money-making machines. However, I realised that as a result of this mass profiting venture, the quality is compromised and we, as their customers, get used to it, not questioning it, because advertising sells it as the best.
My friend, TT and I visited Four Friends Chocolatier (Coffee, Chocolate & Tea) and learnt a lot as well as were inspired. A small building located on the edge of slick northern Sydney suburb, Crows Nest, this modest cafe is definitely bigger on the inside (calling all fangirls – geddit? )
On entrance, there is a beautifully decorated counter, scatterings of chairs around it and a grey, purple, green and red theme going on. The counter is dazzled with light to display its wares and there is a staircase leading up to a prominent sitting area, complete with a white washed balcony.
There are metals, glass and wood mixed together in the decor, with greenery surrounding it. A small table with water and glasses sits to the side and magazines are abundant, like in a doctor’s waiting area.
There are large booths, child size arm-chairs and soft, velvety couches, enticing in the customer.
Both TT and I noted immediately on entrance how calm and relaxed we immediately felt. The music was soft, consisting of various renditions of smooth jazz or pop songs. There was an atmosphere of contentment and we immediately felt at home, ready to enjoy ourselves to the fullest
Now comes the time that I introduce you to Katze, the owner of Four Friends. Katze is a miracle. Not just in the sense of creating such delicious chocolate, but also as a person. For years, she suffered scleroderma, a disease which hardens the skin and leaves flexing ability at a minimum. She could not move at one point, finding even breathing difficult.
At the same time, she was also pregnant with her third child. The pain, she said, was unimaginable. But one night, she had an epiphany. She was negative and depressed majority of the time, understandably, but she thought to herself ‘If I stay like this, imagine the effect this negativity will have on my child.’
She laboured through her disease and her pregnancy and miraculously, following the birth of her baby, who was healthy as can be, she also started to overcome scleroderma. Despite appearing slightly fragile, she is now completely over the disease.
Katze’s belief in the love for her baby saved not only her child, but herself, and her happiness through a positive attitude as well as determination did truly turn her life around. She wanted to share her spiritual outlook, and the idea of enjoying life for its small pleasures with the world.
If anyone knew life could change in a second, she did.
Thus, one year ago, Four Friends was born. Solely to deliver on the promise of love, relaxation and a cafe where you can ‘stop to smell the roses’, Katze is far removed and critical of global chocolatiers such as Max Brenners. And after tasting her creations, she has every right to be.
Her unique approach in stimulating happiness instead of her monetary situation was refreshing. Katze deliberately decorated her cafe to act as a reflection of her spiritual beliefs, being a stout Buddhist, and so that it could sooth all those walking through her doors before they even sat down.
Furthermore, she gave us some perspective that she lives by to remain positive. ‘If you can sit in her cafe and enjoy a little treat, you can be thankful for at least 20 things in your life, so if you have a problem, why revel on it?’ – BAM: Perspective.
Katze also has four base principles ruling her life: Love, respect, support and freedom.
What she told us about her life, and her philosophical views were the basis of our hour and 1/2 discussion, as we sampled her delicious chocolates and macarons. She was so generous, asking us if we wanted desserts such as waffles or sundaes as well, but we were quite sweetened out by what she had already arranged for us to try.
The chocolates were delicately arranged on a high-tea style platter, and on the side, were the glitter dusted macarons of rainbow colours. Along with this, she had the most exotic blends of tea brought out for us to try.
Before I even begin on the chocolates, can I please make a special mention of her tea? Tea and chocolate = Best idea ever.
Served in special glass pots keeping it heated for a long time, Katze offered over 40 different blends of tea to suit one’s mood.
We tried the special Strawberry Sour Patch, the colour of pink roses and with the flavour like no other I have tasted before. If you thought green tea was nice. This was at least 100x more refreshing.
Tea like she offers, without milk or heaviness, worked wonderfully with the sweets as well. After trying each bite, take a sip, and it cleanses your palate without the awkwardness of water after chocolate. Its aroma was enough to have my senses tingling before I even tried it.
Not only did the aroma work to calm and relax us even more (sometimes I wonder how we even walked out, our head was up in the clouds!) but it was aesthetically very appealing
Now I am sure you are dying to hear of the chocolate – Sorry about some bad photos by the way, the lighting was quite difficult to manoeuvre around!
Let us begin with Mr Robot. A specially moulded fellow, this sweet consisted of a white chocolate ganache exterior, filled with smooth, flowing caramel.
You may be wondering about the green colour, but it is actually all natural, no artificial flavour or colouring in either the chocolate or caramel. Not sparing on expense, Katze imports natural cocoa colouring products from Italy!
We also tried the Almond Milk Chocolate. Definitely one of the most beautiful chocolate, this consisted of an Italian made sheet design for the exterior, and had the smoothest ganache I have ever tasted inside.
This is a result of Katze using only Belgium chocolate, but not adding any preservatives like in the long lasting chocolates of massive companies, and ensuring it is made fresh on the premises! You can definitely taste the difference in ganache quality, as it melts in your mouth and doesn’t clog up your throat
TT is a massive fan of peanut butter, so we also tried the Peanut Butter & White Chocolate delicacy, with the cutest little chick design on it. The filling was creamy and sweet, like gourmet PB from a jar, and complimented the white chocolate’s sweetness perfectly!
We also tried the Chilli Dark Chocolate. Not the biggest fans of this, not because of lack of quality, but because our tastebuds didn’t enjoy chilli chocolate that much, though admittedly it was spiced very well
We also tried Katze’s favourite chocolate. Fittingly in the shape of a crown, this milk chocolate casing contained a smooth, vanilla-apricot filling and transported us to summer days of apricot picking, the aroma was so intense! Velvety and delicious, I would buy the Vanilla-Apricot Chocolate in masses!
TT and I developed a system. She chose the chocolate we tried and I chose the macaron – we couldn’t even finish it all because of how much sweet it eventually accumulated to be, but Katze was very nice and did not push us at all.
The first one I chose was the traditional Chocolate Macaron. It looked like a dark gold colour, and on breaking it in half to share, there was a crack as per usual, followed by soft, almost chewiness, so characteristic of a macaron. I found this to be constant in all her macarons, with Katze’s secret being to use freshly ground almond meal and not too little, despite the expense of the ingredient. She did admit that the only artificial part of the macarons was their edible glitter – I swore she was going to say colour, it was so vibrant
The chocolate ganache in this was of course, perfect, and not overfilled, as TT noted, which can truly ruin a macaron by making it too sweet. Katze focuses on not making her desserts to sweet, but rather, enhancing the chocolate’s natural organic flavour.
We next chose the Raspberry Macaron, which I initially thought was strawberry – Besides the chocolate ganache, it was teamed with a homemade raspberry jelly made on premises and tasted like fresh raspberries inside the macaron – success!
We also had the pleasure of trying an Aniseed Macaron (Liquorice). At first, the freshness caught me off guard and I thought it was mint but after a bit more chewing, you realise how strong the liquorice flavour is – it was magic, despite TT and I and even Katze, hating the black liquorice straps on their own!
Is it weird that a macaron can literally taste like a fruit? Well, it is true! – We tried the Banana Macaron as well, and the inner banana custard filling actually tasted very similar to a mushy banana (in the best way possible)
Our last one to try was the Lime Macaron, a lovely green dessert tinged with gold and distinctly Aussie in its green and gold colouring. The citrus flavour was very nice in a macaron without compromising its natural sweetness!
Besides the wonderful macarons, we also got to try an incredible White Hot Chocolate. Katze is completely against the artificial over-sweetness that is so characteristic of white chocolate, instead of opting for organic, natural white chocolate. We were so busy with our tea, we completely forgot to taste it, so she brought up freshly frothed hot milk to pour again, which was very kind.
The white chocolate was sweet, warm and did not leave my throat dry like the Sahara and clogged up
Despite not wanting to serve meat or much savoury foods at her cafe, due to popular demand, Katze also introduced to her menu, a warmed Pork Sausage Bread piece. TT tried it (though she offered me a potato, vegetarian version), and said it was soft, crumby with a delicious flavour.
I also loved the look, with the barest hint of the vegetables contained as well
And that was everything we sampled at Katze’s lovely cafe
Before leaving, she described her passion for chocolate and all things sweet, then prepared a gift bag for us to share, consisting of the chocolates we had not been able to try as well as tea for TT’s mum and chocolate truffles especially packed for mine :’)
She also gave us the most incredible taffy-like Chocolate Salty Caramels in the world. Part of her Christmas collection, it is chewy and absolutely… wow. My new daily chocolate!
What made Katze’s Four Friends chocolate cafe different? It is fresh, generous and full of love. Not just great products
It caters to all ages, welcomes anyone and can really change your mood if you are down! And isn’t that what cafes are meant to do? What chocolate is meant to do?
If you get a chance, or are in the general Crows Nest area, drop by to refresh your palate, your chocolate tanks and enjoy the atmosphere
*Disclaimer: Go Bake Yourself ate as Katze’s guests at this cafe but all of TT and my opinions are our own.*
Four Friends – Coffee, Chocolate & Tea
Address: 5/29 Holtermann Street
Crows Nest, NSW
Telephone: 0415 068 881