*edit, July 23, 2014 – I have removed the part of this post dealing with Wunderland Cafe in the Beach here in Toronto. Peter kicked me out of his coffee shop when I refused to go along with his verbal abuse, which he was always prone to dish – once he got to know me (and began to take my friendship for granted). He didn’t like it that I defended myself. Too bloody bad. I don’t need fake friends. Goodbye and good riddance.
I’m having the crappiest time, living in a wilderness called Oshawa and working – when I do – as a floater for G4S Security Services. Today, as I was walking out the door (in uniform in case they called me), they called me and gave me a gig. I said thanks and continued to the bus stop. That was in Oshawa where I’m living temporarily. Five or ten minutes later, at the bus stop down the street and around the corner, G4S called me to say my gig had been cancelled. I hadn’t even got on the bus to take me to the GO bus to take me to Toronto and I had received and lost work. While I was in a coffee shop later, in TO (where I went for the afternoon just to stay sane), G4S called me to ask whether I was at the site they had given to me and then taken from me. I was almost speechless.
Thank goodness for Toronto’s indie coffee shops! I did a wee bit of business, buying some mouthwash from the Big Carrot and a Wind voucher from Shopper’s, then knocked on a friend’s door and, when he wasn’t in, rung up another friend who lives near Bloor and Danforth. He was on his way to work but popped in to the wonderful Bread & Greens, next to McDonald’s just east of Broadview, to say hi to me. He didn’t have time even to cross the street with me to see what had been done with Si, the espresso bar that Egidio passed on to someone else. So I made I made my way over there by myself.
I had a very nice visit. I truly enjoyed the company of Si’s new owner, Saverio, a man who is no stranger to espresso and the craft of pulling shots. If I remember our conversation, he worked for many years with Saeco and one of the things he did was train new shop owners showing them how to pull shots. He found that to be an interesting, and somewhat disappointing, experience. There’s a fair number of indie shop owners who are just going through the motions.
I was surprised to find that Si has been totally done over. It didn’t need to be, which is why I wasn’t expecting it. Then again, It’s now sporting a cleaner (not as opposed to ‘dirty’, but as opposed to ‘cluttered’), more spacious look. With the stools next to the south wall, you were, sort of, invited to sit facing the wall. You didn’t have to do that of course, but that’s where your espresso or other drink would have had to be set. Instead of a counter against the wall, you now have a bench for sitting with a coffee table in front of it, inviting you to sit facing into the shop, where, potentially, you’ll be able to meet and interact with other customers. Well done!
Does it look better? It doesn’t look worse. It looks damn nice in fact. Overall, It probably does look better. The counter you’re served at is less cluttered – at least for now – and it too looks great. I really like the space made for sitting at the counter and chatting with the barista, Saverio, a wonderful, thoughtful man who welcomes this interaction I might add.
Saverio is going with Classic Gourmet coffee, which I’m seeing more and more of in TO. It’s fine coffee, although I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite. I like a sweeter, tastier bean. (Social is tops in the tasty department.) However, Classic can be excellent and I have found, unsurprisingly, that it tastes different everywhere I go where it’s on tap. Coffee is temperamental and complex. And brewing espresso involves complexity – and wastage, when you’re dealing with trained, careful baristas who will not serve you mistakes. So keep that in mind when you are forking out for this beverage.
Saverio is baking his own indie coffee shop-appropriate eats on site! I didn’t grab great pics of them, so I won’t give you what I have. Just stop in, have an espresso and try one of his treats for yourself. I didn’t sample any eats on this visit.
My first shot here wasn’t just good. It was awesome! Saverio of course has the chops to bring the best out in this fine coffee. My second shot wasn’t quite as good as the first, which means nothing. It too was good. Broadview and Danforth residents are so spoiled with, now, three serious, awesome espresso bars nearby. Two are within easy walking distance. The third, The Rooster, is a bit further away, going south on Broadview, but still within walking distance. As a regular visitor to the area, where I have friends and where I shop (Big Carrot), I’m thrilled. I can have a quick, nutritious lunch at Bread & Greens and walk over to Si to finish up with an amazing espresso and go back to Broadview station and go in any direction from there via my monthly pass.