Location: 253 Augusta Avenue, Toronto, ON
I am typically very skeptical about having espresso in a place that has any other focus other than coffee as I often find that espresso usually lacks the attention it requires. For example, I never order espresso in a restaurant. A friend that I met at the recent espresso tasting, recommended that I check out Krepesz in Kensington Market, as he had tasted some of the best espressos outside of Crema in Toronto.
I took his recommendation seriously, and I am happy that I did because it probably would have taken me a lot longer to find Krepesz by myself. Before I actually paid a visit, I did a little research through the Krepesz website which discusses the seriousness with which they take coffee including 49th Parallel beans, a Synesso machine, and professional training by Geoff Polci. Yes, he is the owner of Crema, one of my favourite places in Toronto.
Now, before going any further, I have to break another one of my rules. When I started this blog, I said that it would be espresso focused, and that I wouldn’t be discussing pastries. Well rules are made to be broken, and I promise you the circumstances are exceptional. I grew up in Romania until about the age of 6. One of the fondest memories that I still having was spending summer vacations with my grandmother in the mountains in Transylvania. When I was well behaved, we would go down to the village and get a freshly baked Kurtos Kalacs, a Transylvanian specialty.
Essentially, this is a really buttery dough that is wrapped around a wooden form and basted with more butter, sugar, and cinnamon for good measure and than roasted over a hot charcoal barbecue. Certainly a deperature from the low-fat, organic, gluten-free, vegan, free-range fare that some cafés seem to promote these days. How was the kurtos kalacs at Krepesz? No they don’t roast over a charcoal barbecue, but use a specially made oven. But nonetheless, My two-year old daughter had to be stopped after devouring three quarters of the large pastry, so that her Dad could have a taste. She was right. It was that good. Krepesz does also specialize in crepes, but reviewing those would be breaking my rules too much.
The Equipment and Preparation
When I walked in, I saw the two-group Synesso with bottomless portafilters paired with the Anfim Super Caimano ready to pull the Epic espresso. I ordered my shot and carefully preparation ensued. After a large dose was put in the basket, a heavy full force tamp was applied. After a long preinfusion, a slow long extraction flowed into a thick-walled 4 ounce cup that was being timed. A deperature from the 2 ounce tulip that I don’t see too often, but that I have seen in shops such as the 49th Cafe in Vancouver. I like being able to swirl to mix the espresso while smelling the aromas very easily, but the crema seems to disapate quickly and the drink cools quite rapidly. I have and use both type of cups at home, but I do tend to go to the small 2 ounce cup more often.
I have not had the current iteration of Epic Espresso (composed of an El Salvadorean, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, and Cost Rican) at home or in other cafes. So a relative comparison is not possible, but I will say that this shot had more layers and complexity than any shot in memory, and I found it very satisfying in keeping in the tradition of great balance and sweetness combined with a long aftertaste of chocolate and stone fruits. The part that surprised me was that I took three sips, and each sip produced different tones including some brighter berries and citrus in the front, followed by some vanilla and flower tones, finishing with a bit of caramel blackcurrant highlights. I found the layers quite surprising and especially challenging upfront with brightness.
Conclusions: Good Spot (Ratings Guide)
This review is slightly biased becuase of the kurtos kalacs which evokes childhood memories, but I can assure you that I have had a very nice shot. The dedication to quality is not only in the equipment and coffee used, but the careful preparation is dilligently followed by the owners who have been trained by one of Toronto’s top. I also believe that the family ownership and involvement will result in this careful training to be maintained which is not as consitent in shops with high barista turnovers.
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