As many of you know, I enjoy vacationing in Prince Edward County in Ontario, and I was really glad to discover Miss Lily’s Café in Picton last year where I enjoyed some very nice espresso both years. This year, I got wind of another coffee shop in nearby Wellington, serving no less Phil and Sebastian Coffee from Calgary. As far as I know, this is the only shop in Ontario serving coffee roasted by this well-regarded roaster. On this particular day that I visited, they were pulling the Colombian single origin espresso.
Along with the great coffee, Tall Poppies is equipped with a 2-group Synesso and an Anfim Super Caimanos. Definitely a solid pairing for pulling some nice espresso. The only element left was the quality of the espresso preparation.
Background and Focus
The shop was originally opened by an Australian couple a few years ago who had a passion for coffee, and clearly a good understanding of coffee based on the roaster and equipment choices. Along with the coffee, the shop also developed a menu following the usual locavore trends that one would expect. This summer the business was sold to a couple from Toronto who are continuing the business in the same direction.
After my coffee, I had a chat with one of the owners and a barista. The general attitude towards the coffee was that they are not coffee nuts and that the coffee was well researched and chosen by the previous owners, that the roasting company has strong direct trade ethics, and that it is very unique in Ontario. Oh yeah, it also tastes nice according to most people. During this conversation, my impression was that there was a cursory view of making and appreciating coffee, it was not a surprise the kinds of espresso I had.
For the first shot that I was served, I did not watch preparation, but I was eager to try the results in the nice, thick walled red cup. The nose was light caramel, and the taste started off as over extracted with light body and sour acidity leaving light caramel notes and small honey aftertaste. If you look in the picture below you can see the blonding in the cup. Too much liquid that took persistence on my part to finish.
After revealing my identity and chatting, I was asked for my thoughts. I honestly described that it was pulled too long and over extracted, and then I was offered a second shot. This time, I watched the preparation including nice purging of the grinder, normal dosing, and hard tamping. The shot was not timed, but was watched. The flow looked a little fast, and the shot felt like it was cut short as the volume looked very short. Given this, my expectations were low. To my surprise, the shot was very nice. Beautiful floral nose, nice thick creamy body that appeared after some nice citrus acidity in the front. The notes were caramel followed my light sweet almond with a sweet honey aftertaste.
I was very happy with this second shot, although I can’t really say if it was accidental or on purpose. Given this lack of information, the less than average first shot, and my general impression about the appreciation of espresso making, I am giving the “In a Pinch” rating, although I think a “Good” rating could be had if there was closer appreciation of preparation.
Conclusions: In a Pinch (Ratings Guide)
If you are in Prince Edward County, my first recommendation is Miss Lily’s given the consistency and quality of their preparation. However, I think Tall Poppies may be worth a drop in if you are curious to try Phil and Sebastian roasted coffee and you are passing through Wellington. I would suggest emphasizing that you are an espresso snob and that you would like it on the shorter side.
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