Café: Manic Coffee

Location: 426 College Street, Toronto, ON

Manic Coffee was the first Vancouver-style café that I came across in Toronto. Also the first one to serve Intelligentsia in Toronto. Over the three or so years since, I have had some memorable shots as I’ve probably visited a dozen or so times. Given the increased competition, I probably hadn’t been in the café for about 6 months. Last Sunday was definitely not one of the best visits.

I asked for an espresso, and asked what blends were available. Black Cat was the answer. I asked if Alphabet City was available (I have never tried it and was curious from Coffeegeek reports), but I was told no because it wasn't dialed in. I decided not to push the issue.

I waited my turn as a couple of milk drinks were being prepared, and then my shot was next with nobody after me. The measured grind went into the portafilter and tamped very carefully and hard. The cup was then setup under the portafilter, a little elevated with a mini bowl. The shot was then started, and the barista turned her attention to washing another portafilter and cleaning the area near the grinders. Completely obvlivious to my shot. Another barista in the area ended up turning off the shot when he thought it was done.

The cup was a nice thick-walled tulip shaped that was classically styled brown and white, and the shot looked good in terms of size, colour, and generous crema.

The aroma had some chocolate notes with some bright fruitiness. The first sip revealed a shot that started off overly bright with citrusy, cherry notes, and continued into rich, deep chocolaty notes throughout the long aftertaste with bright citrus at the very end. The shot had good body and the aftertaste was long although it was lost in the brightness as was the sweetness that I usually find in Black Cat.

I then revealed myself as a blogger of cafés and espresso to the barista. I then asked if the intention was a bright shot? The answer was that it was a new bag of Black Cat, and that it might be that way now. No offer of another shot or mention that it might require further dialing in.

Conclusions: Good Spot (Ratings Guide)

There were many disappointments during this visit: the overly bright shot of Black Cat, the lack of attention during prepration of the shot, and the overall indifference to the customer. I was never asked for feedback on the shot, and when I hinted at it, the response was one of “that is the way it is”. Based on the reviews that I have seen circulating, this is not an aberation. It’s too bad, as this used to be a place that I could depend on for getting an awesome shot.

The quality of the shot was definitely not what I’ve had in the past, and I am starting to believe more the other reviews that I’ve been reading. I am weary of the passion for great coffee that exists at this café. Please someone say this was a really off day.

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