Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Nick again. Don't worry, today's blog won't be a diatribe-- just having a mellow afternoon, pulling shots, watching my latte art (finally) get back to speed. Not where it was over the Summer, but it's getting there. More importantly, the shots are pulling beautifully. Which gets me to a point I wanted to make (oh no! we're in diatribe territory!)-- latte art. Being from Vancouver, I've become accustomed to latte art being no big deal. It's something you learn how to do, even take pride in, but not the coup de grace. We're still in the business of making coffee, you know? Latte art is presentation, but that's about it. I guess moving to Toronto has got me thinking again because latte art is still relatively new here, and I feel like a lot of shops are at a crossroads-- some want to forget about it, considering it an excessive, extravagant, and ultimately unnecessary accoutrement. Others want to dive in whole hoard, working so hard at their rosettes that they neglect to notice their espresso just extracted in ten seconds. So I was happy to find out today that in the upcoming, still somewhat nebulous TBA Toronto latte art competition, taste will be a factor. Bring it on! I look forward to pouring dynamite latte art into beautifully extracted shots of espresso (the best part, right?). More info on this bad oscar when it comes. And don't forget, regional CBCs are just down the road...

Monday, January 29, 2007

Hey this is Nick. If I look a little tired today it's because I just arrived from an overnight bus ride back from a long weekend in New York. While I was ostensibly there for academic reasons, I made sure to get some coffee geeking in. For those that don't know, New York has a pretty awesome coffee scene right now, owing a lot to some crucial people at Cafe Grumpy, Ninth Street Espresso, and Gimme! Brooklyn, to say nothing of the great things happening upstate, notably Chris Defario at Carriage House and Gimme's main Ithaca locations. I got the chance to pop into Grumpy's brand new Chelsea location and it was a sight for sore eyes-- two Clovers, a Synesso, and some fantastic selections from Counter Culture Coffee and Ecco Caffe (apparently Ecco's own Steve Ford was in doing a cupping that morning, but I unfortunately missed him). After downing a CCC espresso and a delicious Kenya off of the Clover, I left with a half pound of their Cup of Excellence Nicaragua #8 winner from Luis Vasquez-- compared with the Kenya's fruity dominant notes that veered into tomato soup territory as the cup cooled, the Nicaragua was a pleasant contrast with persistent nuts and caramel and a mellower acidity that gave a very warm, pleasant impression.

Cupping notes aside, the trip gave me an even stronger sense of what can happen when a small number of enthusiastic people get together to build a scene. New York's specialty coffee scene isn't large, but it's growing-- recent New York Times articles and other media attention (Martha Stewart!) has driven the boom, but it has most to do with the positivity and group spirit these guys have built. Different shops aren't competing, they're supporting one another and in turn creating an infectious energy. I want to see this happen in Toronto, and I know it will, but there's still too much fracture and fragmentation-- baristas and owners competing rather than supporting one another (let's not confuse this with barista competitions, which tend to foster mutual respect amongst the coffee community). I for one would like to see more cross-communication, knowledge sharing and support. In a city as big as Toronto, there simply aren't enough top-notch specialty coffee shops for there to be any logic in trash talking and avoidance. Let's make a scene, guys! This goes for anyone out there, if you want to come in and talk coffee, or invite me to check out your shop, hit me up here-- I'm in the shop Mondays and Tuesdays, and I know I can speak for everyone at Mercury, we want to build on something that is already gaining momentum. The Pacific Northwest has been a model for years, but it's inspiring to see a city as close as New York create something in such a short amount of time with such a relatively small group of motivated people. Let's make this happen, Toronto.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Gosh it is COLD out there today!
"Very fresh" Graham might say.
Anyway, ReZ and I are hanging out listening to some cool new tunes (Right now we are playing Johnny and the Moon, Raising the Fawn, and Ugly Casanova) and drinking coffee. If you would like to join in on all the fun you are more than welcome.

Just to let you all know...
Mercury will be featured on CBC's 'Living in Toronto' today at 1pm. If you have a chance to watch it please do, and then feel free to come in and tell me how it went.

That's how we roll,
A - R

Saturday, January 20, 2007

I'm obsessed with Tiger Stripes. No I didn't get a new hat. Nor am I trying to push any fashion boundries. I'm talking about the stripes that mark a well poured espresso. If they appear on your next ristretto you won't even have to taste it to know that it'll be delicious. Yet, on the other hand, if the stripes are absent it doesn't necessarily mean that the shot is bad. I wonder why. But bare with me coffee lovers of Mercury, I might take a little more time re-pouring your double espressos just to get that tiger's stripes to appear. Like I said, I'm obsessed right now.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Hello this is Eve and as the new addition to Mercury, I feel inclined to let you all in on my exclusive plan to take over and transform the wonderful neighbourhood cafe into a giant ant farm.

But that will not be in a good while, so I presume I might elaborate about myself a little bit. As coffee ranges as one of the several obsessions in my day to day life, I'm really enjoying being part of reinventing people's concept of quality and knowledge and even the joy of simplicity when it comes to the aromatic substance.

I live in the neighbourhood, so working at Mercury has also been a great pleasure and an excellent way to discover my own area all over again. (Nevermind that it has been quite convenient whilst committing to early morning shift.

Alex: So that's Eve everyone. She's a gem isn't she? Using words like 'whilst' should motivate just about anyone to come down and chat with our aspiring barista. Who know what crazy word she'll use next!


Eve and Alex