SCARLET BILLOWS: Bitter+Sweet's signature drink is the unusual Red Velvet Latte. Photograph by Amy Buchanan
Of all the coffee and dessert items available at Bitter+Sweet, a small, cozy cafe quietly tucked away in the Villagio Center in Cupertino, the best place to start is the Red Velvet Latte, which looks like a standard latte except it’s ... bright red. Similar in flavor to a mocha but more subtle, the Red Velvet is lightly sweet and very creamyâ€”the coffee flavor is barely noticeable. More people were sipping these curious drinks than any other treat when I visited. I also ordered Bitter+Sweet’s mocha, which is made of 53 percent Guittard Cocoa and delivers a stronger coffee kick. The bitterness of the mocha makes it a good complement to a dessert. Both drinks are $4.50.
Bitter+Sweet serves a wide variety of high-end, European-style individual cakes, which come from a nearby bakery. The selection varies from day to day, including cheesecake, chocolate truffle, tiramisu, hazelnut Napoleon, hazelnut chocolate mousse and lemon tart. The cheesecake is divided into three layers: cream-cheese frosting, fluffy cheesecake filling and a thick Graham cracker crust with a hint of caramel. The chocolate truffle consists of simply chocolate cake with thick hunks of chocolate on top and throughout. Both were garnished with a single raspberry. All the cakes are $5.95.
The cafe gets its ice cream from Humphry Slocombe, a premium (and quite unusual) ice cream company in San Francisco. Of the roughly 20 establishments that currently carry Humphry Slocombe, Bitter+Sweet is the only one in the South Bay. It is some of the best, sweetest ice cream I’ve ever tasted, plus it’s doled out in 3-ounce scoops, so it doesn’t feel like you’re overdoing it (unless you get two scoops). In addition to somewhat standard flavors like Tahitian vanilla and bittersweet chocolate, you can indulge in such atypical flavors as Vietnamese Coffee (which tastes like the sweetest, creamiest java ever) and Secret Breakfast (made of bourbon ice cream and corn flakes, although it evoked eggnog and cinnamon rolls for me). Single scoops are $3.25, double scoops $4.50. Bitter+Sweet also offers affogatos (ice cream swimming in a shot of espresso) for $4.75, pastries (from Satura Cakes) for $2 and $3.25, and paninis made in-house for a bit over $7.
Bitter + Sweet
20560 Town Center Lane, Cupertino; 408.255.2600