After spending over a week in Seattle I made my way to Toronto. Having done my crafty research on places to visit I had a pretty slim list. Actually only two places that conducted my list; Dark Horse espresso bar and Bulldog coffee but there were more you just have to know people.
I made it to Bulldog Espresso Bar (88 Granby Street) first, they have an old La San Marco machine there which is running way too hot … the extraction was way too inconsistent but the coffee was drinkable but not so great. There in the shop I met Amber Fox … a very passionate barista with a natural latte art skills. Amber organised a little coffee people gathering at Matt Lee’s house but that’s a whole another blog … so for my “must to visit place” will have to go to Bulldog in first place. Ever since I’ve been there, they actually re-decorated the front bar, they have a website and you can find some photos on there, look much nicer than it did before. http://www.bulldogtoronto.com/
Mercury Organic Espresso Bar (915 Queen St) would have to come 2nd for me … the coffee that I got was surprisingly good .. although running an Elektra machine the extraction was decent.
Very close third is Dark Horse (682 Queen Street East) a very communist like decorations give it a very interesting vibe. The coffee was nothing special, they have an Elektra machine also.
Another place might be worth visiting is Cherry Bomb (67 Roncesvalles Avenue), it’s a very small shop with no toilet and Toronto has a rule, if you don’t have a toilet you cant have ceramic cups. So your poorly extracted espresso shot will swim in a paper cup. But don’t worry there is a track bike on the wall to keep you company, you can feel very safe under it!
The main reason these shops don’t use better coffee machine is because there is noone to service them. The local roasters are good to an extent but will not go out of their way to make specialized roasts. The only option might be to import intelligentsia but it will be a very costly process, however there is a distributor in Toronto and his name is Matt Lee, did I mention he has a 2 group synesso at his house??? The main reason that I didn’t spend more time on the Toronto blog is because there is a very good article in the june/july 2007 issue of the barista magazine that basically thumbs it all up … get the magazine I strongly recommend reading the article.