New Thing #173: Sam James Coffee



Excuse my language, but fuck that was a good cup of coffee. The macchiato at Sam James Coffee just might be the best I’ve ever had. Ok, who am I kidding, it is the best.

A great producer at Keen Music, Kai Koschmider told me about Sam James months ago, maybe nearly a year ago now. We quickly picked up on each other’s coffee snobbery when we worked on a project a while back and he’s been bugging me to go there ever since. It’s pretty out of my way for me, but work related activities put me enough in the vacinity to check it out after work. Plus my friend Tom was up for a little catching up, so he tested out the Americano. Also with great results.

I honestly don’t know what it is they did, but that cup of espresso was silkier, richer and bolder than anything I’ve ever had in Toronto. I could have licked the entire cup clean of the excess crema if no one had been around to see me to do it. And I would have. Oh, yes I would have.

Now, if they’d only open up an east end location next.


New Thing #146: L’espresso Bar Mercurio



I only found out about L’espresso because I happened to walk past it on the way to the Bata Shoe Museum. It seemed pretty well established for the neighbourhood so I had high hopes. 

Unfortunately, it didn’t quite live up to expectations. It was fine, just fine. Which is pretty much the most damning thing I can say about the place. Too bad too, because the machine looked wonderful.

Also, someone really need to talk to their logo designer. I totally thought that was a Z instead of an L the first time I saw it.

New Thing #55: Mako Espresso Bar



As many of you may know, I have sort of an obsession with my local espesso bar Grinder. But a few months ago a new kid on the block (well, a new kid around the corner) opened up: Mako Espresso Bar. So when I pulled up infront of Grinder today, fingers crossed, and found out that they were closed for Good Friday I decided to test my luck and see if Mako was open. And it was.

Unfortunately though, my expectations seem to have been set a bit high. The staff was friendly and the place was generally nice inside but the coffee just wasn’t up to par. The latte was weak and a bit bitter and I think the milk might have been a little on the burnt side as well. At least it only cost $3.75.

Too bad. I guess I’ll just have to check into Grinder for the 144th time.

New Thing #31: ZaZa Espresso Bar



ZaZa is a little espresso joint in the heart of Yorkville (emphasis on little). I didn’t even know it was there until my partner at work mentioned it.

I dropped in after work tonight for a well needed pick me up and ordered a double espresso, short. Soon I was sitting atop a stool enjoying a rich, strong crema topped shot. As an added bonus I didn’t even have to ask for a glass of water with my coffee.

And so begins my journey of trying all the independent espresso shops in Toronto before this whole crazy experiment is done.

In retrospect though, I should have waited until it was a little warmer to try this one. The window seat offers a great people watching view.


New Thing #20: Roasting Coffee Beans


A day doesn’t often go by that I don’t indulge in at least one latte. Although I’ve never found any interest in brewed coffee, there’s something about espresso that just does it for me. That’s why I’ve always wondered what sort of a difference roasting my own coffee beans would make in the flavour of the espresso I make at home.

I grabbed a bag of Taman Dadar Java from the Merchants of Green Coffee and went to work. I used the popcorn maker method since it seems to do the most even job on the beans according to my research online. It also seemed to be dead nuts simple, which is always a plus for me.

The roasting itself went off without a hitch, but how does it taste? Well, you’ll have to check back tomorrow because they’re supposed to rest for a day before grinding. Sorry. 


What a fantastic way to start the morning. The green beans I’d roasted ground up beautifully, giving off a nice mild aroma. That smell translated wonderfully into a very sweet shot that wasn’t too acidic and really opened up as I drank it.

It might just be that the Intelligentsia beans that I normally use are past their prime but this is the best shot I’ve pulled off my machine in a very long time. And yes, even the crema was more abundant. My machine doesn’t normally produce an aweful lot of the stuff so it’s hard to pick out in the photos attached, but believe me it was more.


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