Thursday, January 27, 2011

First Experience: La Boheme

La Bohème Café Patisserie
Address: 2481 Yonge Street
Neighbourhood: Yonge & Eglington/ Uptown

Uptown has the boutique charm and the vibrant sass of the core downtown. What has always been a void in this 'hood, is the quintessential independent cafe. You'll find a lot of big brand name coffee shops, but it's lacking that local feel.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Food for Thought: Bloordale Pantry

Address: 1285 Bloor Street West
Neighbourhood: Bloordale Village
(Bloor and Landsdowne)
Website, @TheBloordale,  Tel: (416) 530-2999

This hot spot for Sunday brunch came up on our radar for its eats and not their espresso, but in true reporting fashion, we must discuss all things Espresso first then good eats as secondary bonuses.
On this visit we were able to chat with Rose, owner, to discuss about her lovingly restored classic Faema E61.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Cortado much?

Taken at Mercury Espresso.

Many Coffee lovers are confused when they walk into a cafe. 
Menu language has expanded over the years with signature drinks and divergents from the staples such as americano, latter, mocha etc...

Then there are other ones that you hear people ordering that seem to be made-up or discovered through certain baristas.. This is the exploration of coffee fanatics....
(Future post of lexicon)

What is a Cortado?
Its a shot (or two) of espresso with a very small amount of milk.
A 1:1 ratio of milk to espresso.
More milk and less foam than a Cappuccino. Allowing the milk to cut any unwanted acidity. Leaving the drinker to experience milk-coffee goodness.

Maybe this can help those that don't enjoy straight up espresso-- to slowly ease into the addiction of amazingness that you are missing out on.

Happy First offical Espresso Anniversary!!!

Keep it locked for the celebratory warp-up post of what happened last week.
Bundle up its -18, -20 this weekend. Enjoy an espresso indoors.

Undiscovered: Soma Chocolates

Soma Chocolatemaker
Address: 55 Mill Street
Neighbourhood: Distillery District

Distillery District is located in the barrens of lower Toronto, where it's famous for galleries, and boutique crafty shops. Artisan, if you will. It's not an extra stretch to see Soma thriving in this preserved histroic area. I've come to LOVE venturing into Soma and picking up a bar of 70%+ Dark Chocolate to nibble, and gifts along the way. Always made in-house, it's no wonder why they've been so popular.
It struck me as odd that I've never thought to try the espresso while waiting in line. It was only fitting that it was a nice day during our visit to the Christmas Market.
Machine:La Marzocco GB3 (2 group)
Grinder: Unknown
Beans: Epic Espresso
Roasters: 49th Parallel
Verdict: Surprised at the quality, but then again - La Marzocco and 49th / can't really go wrong.
December edition of Epic, was bright, crisp, and screaming with high notes, and would settle for velvet smooth. 
Given the choice, I would rather walk 1 block to have great espresso as opposed to sub-par espresso in the other histroic building.
Athestics, aroma, and amibence all come to mind with I mention Soma Chocolates.
To die for products, and a great machine to pull amazing shots. Never brought the two together to experience the shop at it's full potention. Chocolate maker, and espresso puller. Yummy

Yet - dont expect the line to move fast, given that they have to park a truffles case next to the cash, you always want more aritsan chocolate. Unexpected good coffee in the DD, makes me smile when I open these doors.

You should make it a journey, even if it's just to watch the chefs make chocolate in the back. Worth every moment! Wave "hi", and be jolly as you sip your hot chocolate or Mocha beverage.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

First Experience: F'Coffee

Address: 641 Queen Street East
Neighbourhood: Riverside

Nestled on the edge of the Eas/West divide, just before you hit the bridge to cross the Don, is where you'll find F'Coffee. It's the way of F'life

Locals popping in for their daily dose, or just neighbourhoodies lounging and doing their works... Usually find a mixed crowd of quiet folks plus the ones that get-together to catch up.
It's a great location to take a break from the dredges of the Queen Streetcar.

 The interior is lit up by the large windows that face Queen East - currently home to the next "loft/condo" expansion slated for that area. But be weary of their hours - as sometimes you think they'll be open... Guess again. I've tried multiple times to visit the shop at odd hours - and no dice. On this lovely Saturday morning I was able to luck out and sample what they had.
Machine: Saeco Aroma Se 200
Grinder: Unknown
Beans: Own Blend
Roasters: Unknown
Indie Coffee Passport:YES
Verdict: Seems like they have a decent machine, with decent beans, and decent staff. The shot just didnt have any character. Strong aromatic arabaca beans - but taste wise it was flat. My tongue/palette wasn't excited. After it cooled the acidic tones started to shine right thru. Not my cup of tea.

 If you notice the photo - it produces a rich dark caramel crema, but still - no character at all.

They do have great panini sandwiches, and pastries... but again - with their early closures - you better get in bright and early.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Featured Espresso: Cerrado

Spotted at Mercury Espresso Bar
Beans: Single-Origin from Brazil
Farm/Coop: Daterra, Cerrado
Roasters: Terroir
Located: Mass. USA

Tasting Notes: Smooth enjoyable profile for all palettes. Minor citrus qualities at the end of your sips, but memorable. Clean medium body, with tastes that remind you of aromatic fudge being made on the spot! Best of both worlds: chocolate but with the surprise of sweetness that lingers in rich fudge. Not the fudge that kills your teeth. Yummy for the soul

Special Feature: One of my favourite baristas - Josh - was on bar today and pulled the shots on Synesco on this lazy Sunday afternoon.

Enjoy this while you can! A couple of bags left- but limited! Afterwards they're going back to the much loved Mamuto.

In addition: goes really well in the Cortado!

From the mouth of GHH:
This is a wonderfully mellow coffee but with delicate clean fruit sweetness, giving a refined Beaujolais-like character to this coffee. Elusive hints of roses in the aroma. Very soft creamy notes of pecan. Medium body without any tang.

It was harvested from deep-rooted, low yield, very carefully hand-harvested Yellow Bourbon variety of Arabica. Rainforest Alliance SealThe owner of Daterra, Luis Pascoal, is a key coffee visionary in the quality coffee movement who never tires of tweaking everything he does one notch up every year for the quality of the coffee and for his social and environmental policies.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Post Run Fuel

If I'm in the area, I usually make it to Manic, for some post workout points.
Its tradition to start the day off right with the following items:
1- double espresso shot of intelligenstia Black Cat
1- lovely Berry Muffin.
1- glass of water.

Great combination of carbs to fuel you, plus vitamin C and essential fats.
Along with hydration, and your daily dose of caffeine.
How do you start your day?
Or what do you use to fuel your day!

Espresso Adventures!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Snowy Saturday; SJCB, Dark Horse

This past Saturday, Toronto got hit with some lovely snowy weather. Snow storm with winds in the mix make for lovely photos!

In the midst of the snowstorm, we were still able to conduct our first Espresso Adventure of 2011.

The morning starting with treking 3 blocks to start the Annex/Queen W adventure. New EA meant that we had to go to some favs and big names from the scene.
First off we lounged inside of Sam James Coffee Bar where Sam James himself was on the La Marzocco GB5 himself.
Pulling an elegant double espresso, in a fashionanle manner is not easy, but the finese that he intellectuall feels is an intuition that may never occur.

Verdict: Buttery smooth with infusion of half melted chocolate. Random spurts of citrus and tea to round out the flavour porfile of Toi, Mot et Cafe. Balanced acidity helped to start the day off right.... in addition a lovely Cranberry/Vanilla Scone added enough to combat the blistering cold winds....

 Lunch Break!!
Well, not my lunch break - but I wish it was my lunch break.

Next stop: b espresso (Dundas/Church) - no photo... will need to return with adequate time to take in the environment.

Last stop: the new Dark Horse Espresso Bar (Queen and Euclid).
Brillance in a nutshell.
Proper review to come in the next couple of days.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

First Experience: Grinder Coffee (Gerrard)

Grinder Coffee
Address: 1021 Gerrard Street East
Neighbourhood: Gerrard Sqaure
Website @grindercoffee

Opening up in a former cyber cafe seemed unimaginable, but it seems to keep attracting more and more customers. Lined with a plethora of small round tables creating workstations for locals, it seems this local community hot spot has a great following. Making up a for the pocket in between Chinatown and Little India, Grinder serves freshly brewed coffee and pulls a mean shot of espresso.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

First Experience: Little Nicky's

Little Nicky's Coffee
Address: 375 Queen St. West (Get Directions)
Neighbourhood: Queen West/Fashion District
Tel: 416.260.0500
Located just south of Queen at Peter Street, it's hard to miss this downtown cafe. Attracted only by various word of mouth comments and a lonely street sign enticing me for mini donuts it was only a matter of time before I would visit this location.
Open in July of 2010, it's a throwback to retro. Word on the street is that retro is IN, but something was different about this location.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Featured Espresso: Detour Ethopian Yirgacheffe Koke

Spotted: Dark Horse Espresso Bar (Spadina)
Beans: Single Origin-- Yirgacheffe Koke
Region: Ethiopian 
Roasters: Detour Coffee Roasters
Located: Dundas, ON

Technical: Pulled for 23-25 seconds at 198F

Verdict: this is extremely sweet aromatic roast, with crisp notes of blueberry, and sweet lime. Jasmine/Floral hints round out the cup. Delicious from the beginning to the end. So airy that you'll be back for more.

Personally, I am a huge fan of what is being produced out the Yirgacheffe region.

Dark Horse is also pulling 49th Parallel Epic Espresso.

Looking for new changes in 2011;
Dark Horse Espresso Blend from the chaps at Detour is currently being roasted this week.

Going from just Brazilian SO, to a blend of Brazilian and Guatemalan . Discover this at any of the three locations this weekend.

NEW cafe is open, going to make time to visit the new shoppe.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Ezra's Pound

Ezra's Pound
Address: 913 Dundas Street West 
Neighbourhood: Trinity-Bellwoods, Little Portugal
(website) @ezraspound

The second location of Annex darlings Ezra's Pound has flourished on Dundas West (3 blocks west of Bathurst) in Little Portugal. Creating a great ambiance for the community with large glass windows, small wooden tables, and a warm environment to learn more about coffee, he's created a buzz of activity. This location doubles as a showcase for what Ezra is trying to accomplish: Educating the masses. Opened T-Sun 8-5pm (10am start on Sunday. What happens on Monday?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Featured Espresso: Intelligentsia Honey Badger

Alert, Alert!!!! Calling all Toronto Intelligentsia fans:

Spotted: Manic Coffee (427 College Street)
Hours: Mon Jan 3rd: 8am - 6pm
            Normal hours: M-F [ 7-7pm];
           Weekends Sat/Sun [ 8-8pm]

Featured:Intelligentsia Honey Badger (Blend -Brazil and Kenya)
Roaster: Intelligentsia
Located: Chicago,IL

Limited Seasonal Espresso -- from Quality Roasters Intelligenstia spotted at Manic Coffee in Toronto, a special blend of three really sweet coffees from Brazil and Kenya.