Café: Capital Espresso

Location: 1349 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON


About a month ago, I stopped by Blondie’s to have an espresso shot. The barista and pastry chef, Maggie, pulled a shot that she carefully watched, then threw it out, and proceeded to pull another one. This was just normal operating standard as she didn’t know I was a blogger. You don’t see this too much. At least in Toronto. The shot of Origins espresso that I had that day was very nice. Although the other two baristas, Alex and Damien, were the ones who had experience at Mercury, preparation knowledge has clearly been well passed on. I then introduced myself, and chatted some more. I found out that they would be moving into their own space in a few weeks as the shared space with the night club was always intended as a start only.

This initial visit got me really interested in their shop as well as their roaster Origins. Instead of writing a review right away, I thought it better to better understand Origins coffee, as well as see the new shop that would be opening soon. For the second visiting, I was also pulling Origins espresso at home, for which there is a review shortly coming.

I visited Capital Espreso in the second week that they were open on a week night before they were closing. The dance pole in the corner is gone, and the place looks a like a café. The slightly modded 4 group Marzocco Linea is still the workhorse, and it is paired with a Mazzer Robur with electronic doser.

I ordered my espresso from Maggie who recognized me, while Damien was the one behind the bar. I didn’t see much what happened, but I soon had ristretto shot in a large thick-walled white cup ready to consume. The cup was wide in diameter and looked like it could hold 3 to 4 ounces.

After pulling the shot, Damien came over to ask my impression, and to chat. I mentioned to him that I had been trying the coffee at home during the same week, and that I was curious to see their interpretation. We discussed dosing and found that they were also dosingin the 19-20 gram range. He also explained to me that he likes to pull it very short as a ristreto as this really brings out the sweetness and the fruitiness. Further discussion continued around the coffee as he enjoys the Origins blend taste, as well as its different changes based on the relatively slow aging of the coffee as well as the seasonal changes of the blend. In his words, “it keeps thing interesting.”

The Shot

First looking at the shot in the cup, my impression was that it was pulled quite short. When smelling it, it had familiar intense dark chocolate notes but the fresh fruity cherry smell emerged more to the forefront than the shots that I had been pulling. Something that I hadn’t been getting at home.

The initial tastes were consistent to what I got at home consisting of chocolate and caramel flavours that than have good increasing brightness of orange flavours with a bitter spicy foreground showing notes of vanilla and clove. The finish was the highlight with amazing sweet cherry notes that leaves you craving for more. The body was velvety and creamy with a big all over mouth presence and a long aftertaste.

Conclusions: Good Spot (Ratings Guide)

From all visits, Capital Espresso is a place where the baristas relly care to serve a great shot. Their knowledge, decidcation, and execution is much above the standard mark that I have seen in Toronto. Their passion and interest to do it right is matched. These are not just well-trained servers, but baristas. Having said this, their really short shot interpreation that I receivd from Damien, was one that was very interesting, but a little too thick for my taste. Clearly such a shot has its advantages in terms of sweetness and fruitines, but also its drawbacks in terms of what I perceived to be more astrigency in the middle from the vanilla and clove spice notes. Having tried both options serveral times at home, I know that I prefer a longer shot, but I do appreciate differing tastes and preferences.

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