Tuesday, December 14, 2010

First Experience: Niche Coffee & Tea Company

Niche Coffee & Tea Company
Address: 626 Queen West (Markham Street)
Neighbourhood: Queen West
Telephone: (416) 203-0458
Hours: 8am-5pm

Niche has been on my "to visit" list for while. At night, I've passed by countless times being attracted to the bright luminating glow of their espresso machine. So I decided to drop in on a weekday, during regular operation times, and sample their espresso.
They have a full menu of food including lunch staples of sandwiches, pannini, soups, salads...etc prepared in the full kitchen at the rear of the cafe. As for the coffee part, they've chosen a great workhorse - Elektra Barlume VA. Having had experience with Managing Balzac's in the Distillery District, it would only be fitting that they know a little something about coffee. They carry a whole array of beans to reflect the neighbourhoods of our city thru unique profiles.

Danforth, Queen West, Toronto Island, Kensington, the Beaches, and their Espresso Roast - Little Italy.

Machine: Elektra Barlume VA
Grinder: Unknown
Turnover: Calm, trickles
Beans: Viva Niche Espresso - Own
Music Indie
Tamper: Constant amount of pressure.

Counter space is nicely set-up, and if you can take the 10 minutes to enjoy your drink -- have it "for here".

At first glance, I wondered why my drink took a little bit longer than normal, even though the barista finished pulling the shot, for a good 30-1minute.

I'm not entirely convinced with their cup choice and how long they pulled the double espresso. Maybe they interpret this as a long espresso, and with all due respect -- fine, but the 5oz cup they served the drink in was a little too big than the customary tulip style 2.5 oz.

Verdict: Using my noise I smelled aromatic cocoa , but as I stirred, that pleasant smell dissipated. It had a very weak flavour, too acidic for my liking, and no development of coffee profile. Niche fell flat on my first experience.

I'd rather go down the street to the new LIT Espresso Bar, or keep my eyes posted on the new Dark Horse expected to open at Queen/Euclid. Niche's food is great, but not sure that their stand-alone espresso shot lives up to the Elektras capability.

OBEY GIANT in the flesh - Shepard Fairley is one of my favourite Artists of recent times.  
This is spotted on Queen West (near Bathurst) outside of the famous Ghandi's Roti shop.


  1. I've been there before...since they have switched to new management the quality of the place has gone down tremendously. I have had espresso there before, it was absolutely delicious...pulled perfectly. 1 minute is way too long for a double espresso...which explains the bitter taste. I went there after the new management started and waiting 1 hour for my breakfast in an empty restaurant. I vowed never to go there again.

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