Tuesday, May 31, 2011

NY: Blue Bottle

Blue Bottle Williamsburg
Address: 160 Berry St
Neighbourhood: Williamsburg
Borough Brooklyn, New York 
website, @bluebottlenyc (718) 387-4160

Spring time awaits us, and a trip back to the Big Apple called me over - so the invitation was accepted. Instead of living over in Greenwich Village in the city, I needed a different game plan. It was decided that Brooklyn would be the base location. In particular Williamsburg, located on the L line - it seemed fitting for a visitor to have the best of both worlds. The city within 10-15minutes on the L line and the local artisan feel of emerging Williamsburg. Being impressed with Cafe Grumpy, and Oslo - it made me want to become a local for the week that was to be spent in NYC. H Factor in full force! Team Canada let's GO! Bit of a rain delay - but BK we got you.

Monday, May 30, 2011

First Experience: Café Pamenar

Café Pamenar
Address: 307 Augusta Avenue
Neighbourhood: Kensington Market (the Market)
website, e-mail, Tel: (647) 352-3627

Located in the Market, it seems that even Kensington can't be over saturated from Cafes. Counting more than a handful of locations seems that we are not short of options.
Start of the summertime fave - Pedestrian Sundays - Car Free Zone during the last sunday of May til October meant that there would be crowds. We welcomed the celebration with open arms as drones of Torontoians gathered to soak in performers and artists, while food vendors filled the air with succulant aromas. Everywhere you looked around - people were enjoying the weather and strolling through the glorious streets without a worry.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

NY: Culture Espresso

Culture Espresso
Address: 72 W 38th St.
Neighbourhood: Midtown/ Times Sq.
webiste, @cultureespresso, Tel: 212 302 0200

Serving Flat whites, raised eyebrows... Found out that the owners are from Sydney, AUS.
With wall to wall window-front, it's a little hidden as there is some scaffolding outside, but chalk drawn signs help you find your way as your coming off of 6th Ave. (Avenue of Americas).

Once you walk in, there are friendly staff to greet you, with two decadent chandeliers hanging from the rafts. Narrow 6 seater counter located in the middle, window marble topped bar allows for people watching and a soft banquette and 3 wooden tables fill the rest of the space.
Fills the space well.

Machine: 2 group Cyrna Synesso.
Grinder: Mazzar Robur
Beans: SO Brazilian Daterra Estate
Roasters: PTs
Located:  Topeka, Kansas.

Special Feature: Cooper Piping Brew Bar, using Beehives for single cup brewing.
Added Bonus: They also will pull Black Cat

longer than normal tight triple ristretto NY syrupy shots, it's full of bright notes of blueberry, chocolately goodness.
Pulled longer than what I've been having...
enjoyable nonetheless.
All shots are triple ristretto.
Is it a NYC law to wear chapeaus? I'm noticing this trend...every since those charming chaps at Stumptown (ACE hotel) swooned me over.

Hmmm.... Jacked up on caffeine...
Espresso Adventures

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tea for Thought: David's

David's Tea is sprouting around the city like it's everyones business

Here's my tribute to the empire that is quickly challenging Torontoians affinity with Coffee.
Tea is the new Black.

Coffee Pu'arh.
Steep Time: 4 Minutes
Method: French Press (of course)
Cup: NYC tribute mug

Veridct: It's very chocolately - and if steeped a little bit  longer it's aroma are quite similar to caramel swirls. It already has a great tea-like taste. Can we substitute this for the real deal...... if you're MAD!
It's a great starter point for tea lovers - but coffee haters.
Enjoy the weekend!

HAPPY Espresso Adventures!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Ethiopian: Coffee geeking

Misty Friday Evening.
Spotted: Manic Coffee
Hosted by: Matt and Steve from Social
Coffees: Kochere Yirgacheffe, Ardi from Sidamo all Ethiopian.
Roasters: Cafe Pronto, Social Coffee Co.
Located: Annapolis, MD and Richmond Hill,ON (latter)
Importer: Keffa Coffee - Townson, MD
Verdict: rose petal, floral-tea like, berry. Love the body of this roast.
From social: way higher acidity--just explodes upon your taste buds, super delicious pop! Lemony-sweet.
Made a trip with Samuel from Keffa Coffee last week to visit Andy Sprenger. from Cafe Pronto. He used this same roast to win the US brewers cup earlier this month in Houston, TX during the SCAA 2011. He will now fly to Amsterdam and compete at worlds. Good luck!
(More from my trip to DC, MD and NYC in the weeks to come)
Excited about these Yirgacheffe, and all the new coffees coming through.
Espresso Adventures.
For more information check out: http://www.espressoadventures.com

Sunday, May 22, 2011

First Experience: Ocho Hotel

OCHO Hotel
Address: 194 Spadina Avenue
Neighbourhood: Chinatown (West)

New boutique hotel ALERT!!!
If you've also noticed the green grass on Spadina, you're not the only one. After 18 months of construction, Louise and team are ready to launch this spot for competitive accommodations within the walks of downtown. Looking at a June launch, they've been running their reception area/lounge/lobby since March. A full service 24-hrs concierge desk acts as bar/and espresso spot for hotel goers and locals alike.
The Loft style, open raft space with exposed ventilation pipes makes the space work in the design conscious area. Let's not forget about all the architecture/design firms located on Spadina.. Along with the savvy Robertson Building just a couple steps north.
Can this lobby compete with Dark Horse 2?
Not really - it's just different.
They cater towards different crowd, with a more lounge hangout spot, as opposed to full suite cafe work centre at DH2.
You won't really see too many people on their macbook pros typing and designing away in this spot. You're more likely to see groups of friends gathering for a mid-day drink, or after-hours gathering.
Equipped with a full continental menu you might find something to noosh on.

Machine: 3 GroupWega (Straight from Itlay)
Grinder: Wega
Beans: Big Bro
Composition: Sumatra - bass notes
                       Brazil - low- to mid-range; 
                       Nicaragua - high end crispness.
Roasters: Te Aro Roasted
Located: Queen East
Cost: $16/lbs

Suggested espresso brewing specs:

    Dry dose: 18g
    Brew temp: 201F
    Brew time: 25-30sec
    Shot mass: 34-36g liquid

Verdict: Attention to details such as a shot of sparkling water, is definitely a great touch - they must be trained from the boys at TeAro. Sadly, this shot was weak - watery, and no syrupy body. Having had a lot of Big Bro - I'll have to say that this shot does not live up to the potential that I know it can be.

Will they improve? Maybe 
Beans are great - if factors can be controlled, and dedicated baristas start to stay - but for now - get yourself a stiff drink.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Crossiants and Coffee: Nadège Patisserie

Nadège Patisserie
Address: 780 Queen West
Neighbourhood: Queen West/ Trinity-Bellwoods

Continuing on with our Crossiant series brings us to Nadège Patisserie located in hustle and bustle of Queen West - right across from Trinity-Bellwoods Park. This space has won the ARDIO award, Design Exchange Gala Award and no kidding the place is amazing. Smack dab in Central Toronto with an in-house made French bakery in the back/ full force patisserie and showcase in the front perfectly lined with white chairs, tables and counter space. You'll find it's always packed - but more so on the weekend as 9-5ers get their fix of decadence.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Summer watch: Cold Brew

Weather Alert!! Hot days ahead (thehehh)

Spotted: Te Aro and Crafted
Address: 983 Queen East, 135 Ossington Avenue.
Neighbourhoods: Leslieville and lower Ossington Strip

Cold-extraction brewed for 8 hours with one pot being brewed overnight in some cases is on display at both locations run by Te Aro.
You might be able to catch the coffee equipment in action if you get there in the morning.

The cold-process coffee system is a no-tech, extraction method using cold water and coarsely ground coffee beans. This means that the bitter compounds and the acidity associated with traditionally brewed coffee is gone.

For those looking for coffee that doesn't turn our tummies, or something to enjoy on hot weather-patio appropriate days ahead, it might be a good idea to give this type of brewing process a taste.

Currently the brew is being offered with two types of beans at Te Aro
Colombian (on the left)-dark syrupy chocolate, big punch! I choose this one.
Little Bro (on the right) - lighter, more floral subtle citrus punch. Jasmine Tea like.

Price tag: $4 for 6oz.
Go check it out.

Happy Espresso Adventures!

For more information check out: http://www.espressoadventures.com

First Experience: T.A.N Coffee (Baldwin)

T.A.N Coffee
Address: 39 Baldwin Avenue
Neighbourhood: Baldwin Village
website, @tancoffeeto, tel: 647-352-8550

T.A.N. Baldwin Village as been on my to-visit list for a while, and seeing as it's tucked away in the heart of Downtown, in the bubble known as Baldwin Street it was a win-win for everyone.
Second location for Lay Yong Tan, (read up on the roasting location here)
The cafe has been in operations for 2 months, and they're already collecting a reputation for regulars. Painted in a summer glow of yellow, with white walls and nicely decorated interior, it's getting the right sort of attention. With a two table patio "fenced" off by a couple of large plants, it's a great patio to enjoy the iced drinks of the summer. The north facing cafe allows ample sun in with a large glass storefront.
As you walk into the long narrow cafe, the wooden floors with wooden patio-style tables and chairs creates a nice haven to sit back and relax.
Located near student campuses of UofT, OCAD, and Michener many stop in to enjoy the free wifi.
Machine: 2 Group Aurelis Nuova Simonelli
Grinder: Mazzer Robur
Beans: Espresso Blend (Dark roast)
Composition: Cup of Excellence El Salvador, and Fair-Trade Colombian
Roasters: T.A.N
Location: 992 Queen Street West
Cost: $15 for 3/4lb (12 oz.)

Verdict: Nice mellow HUGE Chocolate flavours, meyer lemons, very distinct clean mouth feel. Rounded brightness as the espresso start to cool with a molten chocolate cake texture. Ooozing with syrupy goodness. Will I be back - 90%.
Which do I prefer?
Queen West. But i love the downtown charm of this shop.
Espresso Adventure for the long weekend. Trying to see how many cafe patios I can ring up!
Thoughts about NYC -- I'll fly over. 
Enjoy the SUN

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

First Experience: Jimmy's Coffee

Jimmy's Coffee
Address: 107 Portland Avenue
Neighbourhood: Fashion District/King West
website   @Jimmyscoffee

Quiant Coffee in the hustle and bustle of King West?
Let's be honest here, it's an amazing location smack-dab in Central Toronto. Where does it find it's place in King West and Fashion District land where the hordes of condo-dwellers come to sip their sorrows away. They've created that need, and they neighbourhoodies come in drones.Let's just say, it's a great way to people watch on a weekend afternoon. All the sunglasses and chic comfort wear, clearly just waking up to grab their "morning" brews. But that's an over generalization, it's charm can win over the most toughest critics. A once kept secret, is exploding at the seems for fresh faces to destroy their secret hiding spot.
It's been exposed as a great place to enjoy well pulled shots of espresso. Front and Back Patio--- LUSH

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Frist Experience: T.A.N. (Queen West)

T.A.N Coffee
Address: 992 Queen Street West
Neighbourhood: West Queen West
website, @tancoffeetoronto

The Alternative Network (T.A.N) originating in Nova Scotia has now developed into a strong 8 retail-location community. TAN promotes a network of fair trade micro-roaster cafés through financing, management training and business planning. Brainchild of Lay Yong Tan, recently participated with Andy from Te Aro in the Cup of Excellence Nicaragua. 
In my ventures through the amazing Indie Coffee Passport - I found a way to Queen and Ossington area to do some Ossington Strip Espresso Adventures. Known for the fast development of businesses/bars/social clubs. It's one of the hot spots to be seen. 
Revitalizing this strip will only be a matter of months, but T.A.N. has a great space, ample space for seating and an on-site roaster.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Croissants and Coffee: Clafouti

Address: 915 Queen West
Neighbourhood: Queen West/ Trinity-Bellwoods

Where do you hit up when you're in one of those weekend ruts? Switch it up by heading to Trinity-Bellwoods and people watch. Across the street from the urban park is home to Clafouti.
Known for it's amazing patisseries, case in point. The beloved Croissant, brings back cheerful memories of Paris. Just a year ago I was in the Eurozone - enjoying more time then expected due to the Volcanic Ash disaster - or fortunate opportunity. In a good triubte, my friend had pointed me to BlogTO's recently updated "Best of Croissants" list. Only fitting that I'd be enjoying spot 1, most voted for by BlogTO readers

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bean Talk: TFN; Not Your Average Joe

Cafe: @home
Address: @home
Neighbourhood: #wouldn'tyouliketoknow
website, @esproadventures

I waited patiently for my new American Weight - Pocket Scale to arrive from US - by way of Amazon.com

So I decided to bust it out to try the new sample package of
The Fresh Coffee Network's: Not Your Average Joe

Having just discovered that TFCN provides locally roasted bean for many resto establishments, it seemed fair to try and get my hands on their beans. Drake, Fresh, Gilead... (all future posts)

Method: Hario V60 (Hand Pour/Pour Over)
Beans: Not Your Average Joe
Origin:Peru, Ethopia, Sumatra
Grinder: Hario Slim Hand Grinder
Stats: 22g, producing 400g of coffee
Timing: 35s Pre-Brew, 3:40 Total Brew Time.

Verdict: Nice smooth blend, not really pushing too far in the bright category. No eye-defining features, but a nice overall smoothness that is very centrally minded. This blend is defined as medium, and it's very neutral.
Gets more punchy as the coffee cools, allowing the Ethopian florals to come out.
Final Thoughts: Great to win over non-indie coffee drinkers that are looking for some middle ground.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Preview for the Weekend: #Winning

Saturday May 14th, Dark Horse Espresso
215 Spadina Ave.
Samuel from Keffa Coffee will be in town and so will his Ethiopian Coffee.
Detour Coffee and gracious hosts Dark Horse 2 will be holding a special Coffee Cupping.

Cupping 4pm - 5pm
Discussion 5pm - 5:30pm
Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony 5:30 - 6:30

Ethiopian Food prepared by Samuels sister to follow and latte art throwdown!

Sunday: Revival of Espresso Adventures (Spring edition 2)
I'll keep you posted about the progress.
Faithfuls that liked to join should e-mail me; info@espressoadventures.com