Given the amount of Starbucks stuff on this site, you might think I do my coffee drinking exclusively at one of my many local Starbucks locations. This isn’t true. I go there a lot, because it’s the closest coffee joint to my house, but living in Pasadena I do have a large number of independent coffeeshops available to me, and I visit them when I can.

So, in the spirit of Small Business Saturday, here’s a review of a beverage from one of those local, independent coffee places.

Zona Rosa Cappuccino

Zona Rosa Caffe is a great little shop in the Playhouse district. I’m linking to the Yelp page, because their website is one of those Flash monstrosities with autoplaying music. That tasty-looking drink in the picture is a Zona Rosa Cappuccino.

The first thing anyone with barista training will notice is that it is not, in fact, what we would normally call a cappuccino — there is far too little foam. Given the ratio of milk to foam, and the presence of chocolate, this is more of a mocha. But Cappuccino is what it’s called on the menu board, so that’s what I’m calling it here.

The Zona Rosa Cappuccino is a mix of espresso (their own roast), steamed milk, and Mexican chocolate (probably Ibarra). Usually there’s whipped cream on top, but I’m avoiding that particular temptation these days. Like a Mexican hot chocolate, the Cappuccino has a hint of spices like cinnamon that give it a distinct and delicious flavor.

It’s not too sweet and it doesn’t hit you over the head with cinnamon — the balance of chocolate, spices, and espresso is damn near perfect. It’s a great drink for sipping on a nice cool day. (Well okay, currently it’s 86 degrees F around here, but let’s pretend.) You can also get it decaf if you’re watching your caffeine intake.

If you happen to find yourself in Pasadena, give this drink a shot. It’s a nice departure from the heavily sweetened fare at most coffee chains.