Café: The Mascot
Location: 1267 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON

After a nice shot at Capital Espresso, I was eager to continue my Parkdale espresso tour to a shop that I had heard a bit about. Mostly what I had heard about the Mascot was about the space, the use of lever machine, and that they were pulling Reunion Island Bullet Espresso which I had not had before.

The golden 3-group Victoria Ardunio Athena lever sat front and centre at the bar paired with a Mazzer Robur with electronic dosing. When I later asked about the reasons for this machine choice, I was told that the old-styling aesthetics of the machine went very well with the cafés aesthetics. Certainly I don’t disagree, but I was also hoping that the machines extraction capabilities and their effect on the taste profile might have also played some consideration.

I ordered a shot which was mechanically prepared by dosing, tamping, pulling the lever down, and letting it lift back up. Didn’t see any close observation or timer in use. It was served in a large circular white cup that was not very thick-walled and felt more like a mini-mug without a handle. Unconventional and not something that appealed to me.

I drank the disappointing shot, and I turned to talk to the barista who was also a partner in the shop. I asked why they chose the Bullet Espresso, and he responded that the owners felt really good about the ethics of the roasters including greenness and sourcing, they really liked the charitable work that Reunion Island does, and that the owners all seemed to like the coffee. To me, it was a strange response since I was asking about the coffee, not for a moral evaluation of the coffee roasting company. I asked what other coffees they had considered, and the response was that very many like the usual Intelligentsia and 49th Parallel Roasters. Certainly, not corporately irresponsible roasters.

I mention this conversation, because for me, my ultimate concern is what is in the cup. Not the marketing messages around it. For me, specialty coffee roasters and cafes should concentrate on the quality and taste in the cup, rather than the green, fair-trade, and charity message. These days, distinguishing oneself on these marketing messages, is no longer unique or necessarily that distinguishing. A great tasting espresso is something that can be distinguishable. Anyhow, now to my thoughts on the cup.

The Shot
The aroma was dominated by woody and earthy tones with slight rubber smell that was a little off-putting. The first sip tasted showed these tones mildly mild on a profile that felt flat and unablanced as the medium body in the coffee lacked acidity. As the shot finished some milk chocolate sweetness appeared mildly on a short finish.

Conclusions: If You’re Desperate (Ratings Guide)

I generally find it hard to be a big fan of earthy and woodsy flavours as the predominant profile, and in this case there was relatively low body with a flat taste. Unexciting and not particularly engaging for my palette. Granted it was 10 minutes after drinking a spirited shot pulled with care and deep coffee passion from Capital Espresso. I certainly know which place I would choose, and if you care about the taste of your espresso, I think you will agree. If decor and marketing messages are your priorities, then you probably won’t think much of my review.

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