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Bulldog Coffee - all hat, no cattle

Tried Bulldog Coffee today, largely on the recommendations on this board. What a joke.

The woman in line before us asked for a coffee. "This is an espresso bar. You have a choice of latte, bulldog or cappucino," said the owner, pointing to three cups on the counter (three sizes - just like Starbucks!) "You get two shots of espresso in each. You choose the amount of milk." The woman was immediately confused. "OK, I'll take a latte size with a quarter milk." The "barista" repeated his schpiel, speaking more slowly this time. "This is an espresso bar," he said. "It works differently from other places, so if it's your first time, it's best to just listen." The woman was clearly embarrassed, and agreed to order a latte. (He did not offer her an Americano, which was clearly the closest thing to what she wanted.)

We were up next. My wife liked the latte art. "How did you do that?" she asked. "Obviously you've never been served by a real barista before," said the man proudly.

Oh. My. God. Served with that kind of attitude, it had to be the best damn latte in the world.

So what was underneath the pretty design and the decent microfoam? Mediocre taste. Lukewarm. More milky than flavourful.

I think I'll go back to Ideal, where you don't get a lecture with your latte, and where no one calls themselves a "barista."

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  1. IIRC, this is the same place where all prices are divisible by 25 cents, and they refuse to take anything smaller than a quarter in payment because it's "too much of a hassle". I guess some people like abuse and attitude with their morning coffee.

    1 Reply
    1. re: gregclow

      Yeah, he's got a couple of newspaper articles posted in his window about this. I am tempted to go back and plunk down a pocketful of dimes and nickels to pay for my latte.

    2. I hate that crap. Had a similar experience my first time at Jet Fuel, when I tried to ask a few questions about what to order and they gave me some attitude. Pretty ridiculous considering they don't even post a menu! Geesh. Luckily their coffee is good enough to (almost) back it up.

      Some places like to make you feel like if you're not part of the "club" you deserve attitude. Welcome to back to elementary school -- with caffeine.

      1. A couple of years ago, Bulldog was the only game in town when it came to quality, third-wave (or at least 2-and-a-half-wave) coffee.

        Now there are alternatives: Manic & Mercury are the standouts for me, with a bunch of others (the Common, Cherry Bomb, Dark Horse, etc.) close behind. These are all at least as good as Bulldog, without the attitude. At least one of the above (and possibly more) are run by ex-Bulldog employees.

        As well, unless my taste buds deceive me, the quality at Bulldog is not what it used to be - when I first went there the espresso had a nice chocolate note to it and was accentuated by nearly perfectly micro-foamed milk with good sweetness. More recently, the espresso tastes a little flat and the milk is often a little under-steamed for my liking.

        5 Replies
        1. re: detritus

          Um... "third-wave," or 2-and-a-half-wave, coffee? What's that? Coffee with a microchip? I've heard of 3G and 2.5G cell phones, but coffee?

          1. re: detritus

            I'm familiar with Jet Fuel & Bulldog (live in the area) but could you post links/locations for the others? Would be nice to do a coffee tour & compare!

            Let me also throw Tango Palace (Queen/Jones) into the ring - great service, cozy atmosphere, and pretty decent coffee of all kinds. :-)

            1. re: keijo

              Manic is on the north side of College, just a few doors east of Bathurst. Very, very good espresso.

              1. re: keijo

                I started my own coffee tasting tour on Friday Oct. 19. Have extensive notes from visits to Mercury, Jet Fuel, Bulldog.
                Best cappuccino/latte is at Bulldog. After reading this thread, I expected tons of attitude and no menu. The gentlemen (Saturday around 4 pm) answered all my questions satisfactorily and the chalk board menu was clear once they explained "bulldog $3". RM decor evident, but I had never been there before so I really enjoyed the colour scheme (gold LaSanMarco machine surrounded by black) and atmosphere. Would definitely return.

                In contrast, there was no posted menu at Jet Fuel and I couldn't even finish my cappuccino which was served in a paper cup with about 4 inches of foam (not exaggerating). I don't care if it's only $2, it was sour and too bitter and wasn't redeemed by the sticky brown sugar, really great atmosphere or newest staff member Eddie rolling out dough for apple danish behind the service counter.

            2. To throw my name into the hat, I also visited Bulldog last week, based on recommendations from this board.

              While it was my first experience with latte art (and it was very pretty), the espresso and latte that I ordered were quite average.

              That's not to say I didn't enjoy them, but they were certainly not worth the effort to go out of my way to acquire them.

              Manic Coffee on the other hand, wow. Best latte ever.

              1. I'll weigh in on this discussion as well. I've been to Bulldog a couple of times and while their Cap's were good they definitely weren't standout. I haven't had any of the tude that many complain about there, but i don't doubt it for a second. I've heard many stories of bad service from that shop.

                Manic has to be hands down the best shop in the city. The latte's and cap's are consistently delicious. And the clover produces flavors that are out of this world.

                My only qualm with Manic is that their walls are pretty damn bare. They need art to cozy up that place.

                1. While I HAVE had a good latte at Bulldog here and there, it's true that some staff can be outrightly snide, and the owner (the guy in all the newspaper clippings) is a bit of drama queen based on my experiences and others I've heard of. If his day isn't going well for whatever unpredictable reason, his customers will bear the burden.