Monday, 23 January 2012

Coffee Crawl

This morning Rick took Brian and me on a coffee crawl in the east end of Toronto. I'm vibrating from all the caffeine and still have the taste in my mouth! We went to four independent coffee shops, sampled a brew in each place, talked to three of the owners, and generally had a great time.

Rooster was our first stop, neatly tucked into the side of a residential neighbourhood a couple blocks north of Gerrard on Broadway. Greeted warmly at the door, my first impression was that this is somewhere I would go regularly if it was in my neighbourhood. The owner Shawn came right around the bar and chatted with us as if we were old friends, true of Rick but that seemed to extend to the rest of us too. There was a big communal table at the back of the place. What a great idea!

The barista pulled me an Atomic Rooster double shot of espresso. They used Ethiopian Sidamo beans of single origin. It was heavenly! With a thick crema housing all kinds of aromatic notes, I was instantly impressed by the place. I tasted the blueberry notes Rick said I should, and an almost spicy quality I'd never experienced in coffee before (aside from our chili experiments).

Next we headed to the Beaches to a truly unique shop called Wunderland. The owner, Peter, lives upstairs in this typical Beaches style house he converted to a coffee shop last April. Decorated in rustic fashion with reclaimed barn beams outlining the room, and homemade furniture made out of the same using the sawmill in his back yard, the place had a small town intimacy to it.

Rick had a pomegranate spritzer and I a double shot of the Classico Incountry (spelling?) espresso. It was naturally sweet and really syrupy near the bottom. I thought it was missing something, but any lack was quickly made up for when he made himself a cup and joined us at the table. We talked for some time about politics, art, wood craft and facebook. I will definitely stop in next time I venture into dragon territory.

Our third stop had a definite French air to it. Voulez Vous' blue striped theme, fresh baked bread smell, ornate fireplace, open kitchen and gratuitous use of chalkboard was quite welcoming. They also had a communal table made of re-purposed bowling alley, adorned with a bowling ball, right at the front. Maybe they are more popular than I realized.

We sat at the back of the place to wait for the owner. I had a short americano brewed from the Super Bar blend of Classico. My least favourite drink of the day. I thought it tasted almost burnt, quite harsh, but after I added a bit of cream it evened out and was enjoyable.

Finally, we stopped into the Mad Dog Cafe in Chinatown East, Gerrard & Logan. This place had a clean industrial feel to it with the old hardware sign hanging over a white brick wall, low hanging steel light fixtures. grey colour palate and visible air ducts, balanced by warm eclectic touches with park bench and church pew seating. They also serve sandwiches and brunch, but I wasn't hungry.

The owner, Johnson, seemed nervous making us double macchiatos, but he needn't have been. My first experience with Detour, I was impressed. I detected distinct notes of dark chocolate, a slight sweetness almost fruity, and a nutty quality I'm sure was walnut. A great drink to end the day!

From left to right at Mad Dog Cafe: Rick, me, Brian. We're happier than we look.

For those keeping score at home, yes that was 8 shots of espresso in various forms. No wonder I'm vibrating! I'd do it again in a second though, and I am already looking forward to round two.

*Update* Holy caffeine crash Batma-zzzz....

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