Best Coffee in Toronto?
- Coffee and Choco Dec 1, 2008 06:03 PM
my favourite bakery/ coffee shop just closed down. now i have nowhere to go for good coffee and baked goods without costing too much money (under $5). Any suggestions?
Some very funky baked goods and site-roasted coffee at Moonbeam Coffee Company on St. Andrews in Kensginton market.
After shopping at The Good Egg on Augusta Ave. last week, I noticed a coffee shop located at the entrance of the Blue Banana Market across the street. The double espresso I got (made with Balzac Coffee beans) was one of the best espressos I've ever had. I didn't pay much attention to the baked goods, but I'm still thinking about that coffee. www.bluebananamarket.com/coffeeshop.html
Mercury, Queen St, east of Logan. Cookies are good too although not a huge selection of baked goods.
my top3 in order
1. Dark Horse - 682 Queen Street East.
my fav overall in drink quality / baked goods / staff / atmosphere
2. Bulldog Coffee - 89 Granby Street
depending on the barista can be really good, central location
3. Mercury - 126 Main St.
its never busy, the locals dont know what their missing, other location on Queen St. is good but small and too busy sometimes :o
in terms of pure drink quality/standards the best is probably Manic Coffee - 426 College st. but i don't like the location/vibe
Mercury Coffee on Queen at Carlaw and also the location at Main south of Gerrard - the best espresso in town
re: Notorious P.I.G.
Just ask the espresso bar owner or workers if the beans they roast have gone through cupping tests.
If they provide ready to go beans from outside sources like intellgientsia or whatever..
then you can assume they know very little about roasting. No mass produced, roasted
bean will taste exactly like the next few 100 batches. A master roaster may come close
but the beans will change as each crop from a farm changes in taste year to year.
This is why you may notice from time to time..you never get the same taste..Unless
your drinking some flavoured bean which uses an overpowering amount of spice
which drowns out the actual bean flavours.
Bulldog used to be my fav. when i first got into espresso....then they lost a few good
baristas....i don't know if the owner is there 24/7 anymore.which has stopped me from
Mercury is okay...but for the general public i would say could be considered great.
The rest ..ie Manic i'm sure are the same.
If you roast yourself and have a good machine ie...NOT delhonghi, krups,etc.
you can make consistently better drinks then any cafe could ever provide for you.
You will have a learning curve along the way which can only make your drinks
better and better.
As it stands..i've been roasting for the last 1yr after 2yrs of learning about machine
basics, techniques, etc. I will never buy from a cafe unless my machines all
break and i'm in a jam.
I have tested out the shops in TO. and i'm disappointed. I've also purchased
beans from many places for roasting. Which has also been disappointing.
As a result...i may start up a small website and offer micro batches of my own
personal roasts in bean form as well as ground for a french press or for
espresso. I believe the key is consistent testing and cupping and knowledge
of bean quality. If you didn't know bean quality varies in many areas ie. defect rate,
size, farm, method of processing,etc. all has an impact on the taste.
ps. fair trade beans are not of consistent high quality but allow for some farmers
to compete and make a living.
I bought a Behmor 1600 at Greenbeanery 2 weeks ago and have roasted about 3 lbs so far. (just finished roasting 1/2 lb of espreeso). The results have been much better than I expected with just the few roasts I've done.. I'll never buy beans from a store again. So when I read posts like this asking where is the best coffee in Toronto, I know the answer is "at your house, if you roast it yourself"
I got really excited when I saw the promos for this machine, but my hopes were dashed quickly. Its capabilities are actually extremely limited and its maintenance requirements extremely high.
If you like the roasts this machine produces, you are truly in luck. My Hearthware roaster screams louder than a banshee. But as someone who likes many beans that are small, dry processed, produce lots of chaff, and taste good roasted well into the second crack, this machine would be unusable. Before you experiment too much, check out the cautions and limitations posted at Sweet Maria's (www.sweetmarias.com).
I roast my own coffee when I have the time and patience, and feel I can tolerate the noise and smoke. This means less often than I would like. At their best, my home roasted beans are better than any I've bought roasted. However, like my home made pastrami, there are wide variances. It isn't always great.
I disagree with your observations about beans bought already roasted. Perhaps we need to define "mass produced", since almost all truly mass produced coffee (i.e., Maxwell House, Folgers) is pretty awful.
I'd contend that a dedicated, small scale master roaster will, overall, get much more consistent results than a home hobbyist or an in store micro roaster (who must also concentrate on brewing and serving product). If you find a small roaster whose beans you like, and you don't want to roast your own as a hobby, save yourself lots of time and effort.
Coffee is similar to many other elemental agricultural products. While a perfect glass of fresh OJ tops anything from a carton, Tropicana has worked so hard at consistency that it often tastes better than a glass of freshly squeezed.
I've pretty much settled on Sweet Maria's as my green bean supplier. The range of beans available, and their obsessive cupping and brewing reports, make their products the most predictable. I have found them to be the best, and sometimes actually the cheapest. They also have beans unavailable elsewhere, along with detailed info on the provenance of the beans and Tom's cupping reports.
I have given up on Merchant's of Green Coffee, where I first got into my roasting hobby. It's a lovely shopping environment and minutes from my home. However, they are too expensive, they know very little about their beans, most of their listings are "temporarily out of stock", and they have given me lots of information that proved to be wrong.
Green Beanery has much more stock, but equally little expertise, though they are likely the best source of beans, roasters, and supplies in Toronto.
I didn't like the intelligensia beans (bought at Mercury) very much, though I'd argue that Mercury can make a fine espresso. I agree, sadly, with your observation that many fair traded beans aren't very good.
In Toronto, you can order roasted beans from Dark City, who roasts to order and delivers free with, I think, a two pound order. While they have some standard roasts, you can (after some self-education) discuss the flavour profile you want to achieve.
I don't think the freshly roasted, or green, beans sold at SLM are especially good. The Loblaw's stores that had bean roasters also didn't deliver particularly good coffee.
Offering full disclosure, I will, with a modest degree of embarrassment, admit that my morning coffee is made from Loblaw's West Coast Dark Roast beans, brewed in a vacuum pot, drunk with cream.
- Luba's at St. Lawrence Market
- Kensington Market has Ideal Coffee (84 Nassau) and Luis Coffee Shop (235 Augusta Ave.)
I really like the coffee at The Common ...It's located on College west just near Dufferin , , , If your in the neighbourhood... it is worth checking out...