On a personal note, I have had a busy last 2 months where I have good reasons not to write. During this time, I have started coordinating a move of the Stork Nest to Ottawa. From a personal point of view this is great because of family, but it is working out well from a work point of view as well – my day work. Will miss some Toronto coffee friends. Now as a quick notes catch up section, I thought to share my mental notes on cafés and coffees from the last little while.
Cafés – Montreal
Had a visit in July. Only 3 coffee visits, all to Myriade – both Mile End and Downtown. The Mile End shop is awesome in terms of getting to talk to baristas, and the coffees I had were all memorable. Best espresso shot, maybe ever, was a Kenyan from Heart. If I wasn’t already one of the biggest fans, but they have changed their coffee menu a bit, as well as their water. The coffee is as always amazingly clean, crisp, and full flavoured. I should add clarity as something that also has been upped. It just keeps getting better. Good thing Montreal is two hours away from Ottawa. Proper writeup will be coming at one point.
Cafés – Ottawa
Good friend and coffee lover from Toronto, Alex, beat me to move to Ottawa about one year ago. He teamed up with with Fadi, ex-Bridgehead alum, to open up the Ministry of Coffee on Elgin Street. These guys understand extraction, and what great coffee means. In terms of beans, they rotate between top Canadian roasters. During, one of my visits, I had a beautiful Panamanian from Phil and Sebastian. This is going to be my goto Ottawa spot.
Cafés – Toronto
I haven’t tried many of the newer places, but I probably will try before I leave. I have ventured out occasionally, but nothing that I wanted to rush out to tell anything positive about. Here are some single liners:
- Best drip coffee from this past year – a Geisha from Proud Mary brewed by Momi from Manual Labour. Matt and Katie will be missed.
- Cafe Olya in Cabbagetown. Found the coffee dirtier than I usually like. They really mix up their coffee sources, sometimes questionably.
- deMello near Yonge and Eglinton, run by two brothers who worked at St Ali’s in Melbourne. They really understand extraction, but are still working on the roasting. It will be a while until I repeat based on dirty and flat espresso, as well as under-developed drip coffee.
- V60 pourover of Detour Coffee at Dark Horse Queen West. Lacked flavour and was a little bitter. Unimpressed.
- Tried some of the Sam James roasted Cut Coffee espresso at his Pocket. Woody and dirty. Hopefully it was just an off shot or batch, hopefully will get better.
- Mercury Espresso served me up some consistently nice shots when I picked up some coffee from them. They just need to reduce their price from $14 per half pound on their George Howell coffee. I have also seen 3 week old coffee on their shelf.
- Crema at Bloor served some pretty nice Epic shots to me over the years. I think the days for this are numbered as Crema is starting their own roaster brand, Propeller Coffee. Given the steep learning curve for new roasters, early results will be mixed, but it will be be fairer to judge in a year or so where they are going, and how they are progressing. Although local roaster coffee quality hasn’t been spectacular, you never know who might come out as a surprise over the long term.
- Bows and Arrows which is usually available at Mercury in Toronto has been better each bag that I tried. Has always been clean with good acidity and good flavour, but the last bag of a Nicaraguan coffee really impressed me with improved sweetness and complexity.
- Anchored Coffee from Halifax from TIBS cafe owner, turned roaster. Tried a shot of an El Salvadoran at the Ministry in Ottawa, and it was too woody/papery. The bag of the Honduran that I bought home had the same problem. Not a fan yet.