Café: Rooster Coffee House
Location: 479 Broadview Avenue, Toronto, ON
On the Saturday morning when I walked into the Rooster Coffee House, it was packed with locals picking up their morning cup of coffee or sitting around enjoying their drinks chatting with neighbours as they look through the giant windows onto the park with a gorgeous view onto the city. With an attractive and cozy feeling, Rooster is the lone business among the row of houses on the street, rather than being stuck along other businesses. This incorporation into the community is something that I wish that I see more. I love the idea of having small community gathering spots like this whether it is a coffee house or a pub. Alright, no more talking about my bright urban planning ideas, I’ll stick with espresso reviewing.
It has happened before that I happen to do my espresso review at very busy times. Yes, this is a disadvantage as quality seems to suffer during a rush, but this randomness also provides the opportunity to shine under difficult situations. To be fair, I also went back a few days later closer to closing time when things were a little slower. So my thoughts will keep both visits in mind.
The main machine at is an 2-group Elektra K series. Not too familiar with this machine, but according to the Elektra website it seems equipped with some of their latest technology. This is paired with 3 grinders: a Major Major with electronic dosing and two old Astoria-badged Mazzers with manual dosers and a timer. Of course, one is used for decaf.
The Coffee Choice
I was very glad to see that Rooster regularly offers two different espressos for customers to explore. Something that I don’t see happening too often unfortunately, but that allows flexibility and encourages customers to explore coffees.
As for the roaster, Rooster chose to go with a Te Aro Roasted, one of Toronto’s new upcoming local roasters whose coffee I have enjoyed quite often. On this particular day as on most, the big Mazzer had Big Bro blend, and the smaller Mazzer had Atomic Rooster Blend which is simply the rebadging of the Mocha Java blend from Te Aro Roasted coupling a Sumatran with a dry-processed Sidama. A classic idea that has proven a winner as it received a 95 from CoffeeReview. Since I had tried both blends, I immediately went for the Mocha Java, as it is no contest for me.
It is interesting to note that Rooster Barista Ken, who I didn’t meet during my visits, competed this year during the regional barista competition. Clearly a barista achieving this type of skills shows some commitment to excellence in preparation.
During the rush, there were two baristas working the machine. The first barista turned the timer on the grinder on to grind more coffee, manually dosed, and carefully leveled the basket off by brushing excess coffee back into the doser. Good way of not wasting coffee, probably not so great for freshness quality. Also the dosing quantity consistency is subject to the barista’s finger rather than the equipment. The basket was then loaded and started with a timer. The second barista stopped the shot at the expired timed and served me the shot in a nice thick-walled macchiatto sized cup. They use both these cups and the smaller tulip-shaped, so it is your choice really.
Te Aro’s Mocha Java is a blend that I am familiar with since I have had it a few times at home. The shot I was served was not as big-bodied as usual and it highlighted the dark chocolate and woody components. The wine and berry notes of the natural Sidama virtually disappeared both on the nose and in the cup. My guess was under-extraction.
I had the pleasure of a second visit during which time I was served two shots. The first shot ran a bit fast, but I was curious to try it. Sure enough, it confirmed my earlier suspicions. The second shot was slower and brought out more body and the wine and berry notes.
Conclusions: In a Pinch (Ratings Guide)
I would love if the Rooster was close to my house as it is a place that clearly has a passion for coffee and from my chat with one of the owners clearly wishes to introduce coffee exploration and appreciation to its customers. Availability of different espressos is also something I’m always a big fan of. Of course, the atmosphere, location, and friendliness are also reasons why I fell in love.
As an espresso destination, Rooster does not make it on my top list of destination in Toronto based on the first shot I had. It wasn’t a bad tasting shot, but certainly was a little off from the really nice Mocha Java shot that I’ve had at home. Certainly precision in the prepration of the shot, even during a rush, would have helped whether this was to come from the barista or from different equipment. Would a shot on a different day by a different barista have had that wow factor for me? Perhaps, but I can only tell you about my experience.
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