This looks like a must-visit coffee shop in Toronto

Is it too late to say sorry?

I’m not even sure how this post got so delayed and thus forgotten… Sorry Coffee Co. was the first coffee shop I visited in 2016 because it was a high priority on my ‘to visit’ list. I’m so glad to say I wasn’t disappointed and it turned out to be better than I could imagine!

Sorry Coffee Co. was a newly opened coffee shop inside of the store Kit and Ace on Bloor street, in the Yorkville area. I wasn’t exactly sure where the store was so I wandered around Bloor street till I came across Kit and Ace and went straight to the back. The coffee area is quite small in size, a nice cozy space in the back of the retail store.

I was fortunate when I went inside there were still a few seats unoccupied so I snagged a window seat! I loved the décor around the café, it was modern, clean and minimalistic which was perfect for photos! I went up to the marble counter to order my cup of flat white and I was ecstatic to hear they had lactose-free milk! I’m not sure why but they didn’t accept cash, so I had to use the machine both times I visited (the first time Jan 2nd + the second time mid January).

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I waited patiently for my flat white and my mothers cappuccino that I treated her to. Her cappuccino was made quicker than mine for some reason! Her cappuccino was also slightly larger than my cup of flat white but both had lovely latte art on top.

About a billion photos later in the beautiful light and setting, I took my first sip…. And it was delicious. Usually coffee shops all taste somewhat the same (with the exception of Starbucks and Dark Horse) in my opinion, so I was surprised when this cup of flat white didn’t taste like your regular espresso. It was delicious and the texture was just right with the foamy milk. The beverage wasn’t hot, more on the side of lukewarm so it was easy to sip and quick to finish! It could have been from the size of the cup or maybe it was easy to keep sipping, but I finished mine in a short amount of time while sitting there and staring out into Yorkville.

Since the café portion of the shop is quite small, it gets a bit chilly every time someone opens and closes the door to leave. The turnaround in the café was quite fast as I noticed many individuals coming in to keep warm from the cold winter with a nice cup of coffee.

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Rate: 4.5/5

Reason: I will definitely be back! I love the taste of the coffee, the design of the café and cups, and also the beautiful latte art to top it off. The only reason I took off .5 a star was because of the size of the coffee for the price. It’s nice to wind down after a long day of shopping in Yorkville and especially during the winter times!

Sandi is a lifestyle blogger from Toronto who has a passion for good food and coffee while exploring the city she lives in and loves. Wandering and exploring new things has been deeply rooted inside of her since the beginning and she loves to share her experiences with others who are also like her. Follow Sandi on her blog and Instagram, Sandiesque. All images by Sandi.

Humans of coffee: Pippa Rowney

Who is Pippa Rowney?

Pippa Rowney is just a girl, standing at a coffee bar, asking for a good cuppa. I am also a part time freelancer/part time blogger/part time volunteer. I love people although I am introverted at times. Whenever I can be creative I jump on the opportunity. I have a deep faith in Christ and a holy discontent towards leadership in this world. Did I mention I love coffee!

What is your best childhood memory?

Best childhood memory is getting home from school, throwing my bag and shoes off and jumping on the back of my dad’s bakkie to go onto the farm with him. Yes I was a farm child #supportlocalfarmers.

If you had a chance for a “do-over” in life, what would you do differently?

I’m actually not sure. I often say I wish I’d studied OT, but to be honest I’ve learnt from life and all the mistakes and I believe that I am who I am because of what I’ve been through in life.

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What do you feel most proud of?

I am proud of the journey I’ve taken and the choices I’ve made (some terrifying) to get me to where I am today. Choosing faith over finance and pride. I am most proud of my husband for the incredible work he does. I am most proud of my dad, no longer with us but his legacy lives on in my life.

If you could only keep three possessions, what would they be and why?

My bible cause that thing keeps me motivated, my crochet hook which keeps me sane, my passport cause what would life be without travel.

What do you want your tombstone to say?

Daughter of the Highest, Happy Wife, Mother & Friend.

What is Coffey & Cake?

Coffey & Cake started out as a weekly review of new coffee shops I would visit while living in Joburg. It has become a platform of education for the every day person who drinks coffee, educating them on what specialty coffee is and where to drink good coffee. It is now an online directory in that sense. Coffey & Cake for me is a legacy of my maiden name, my family and it is my creative space.

Why are you so passionate about coffee?

Coffee has this immeasurable power to bring people together. It creates community, even this series humansofcoffee brings together a community. Coffee is pivotal in building relationships, solidifying friendships and consoling heartache. Coffee is the livelihood for families around the world and brings hope and dignity to many.

What’s your favorite kind of coffee, brew method or coffee origin?

I usually order a single shot flat white, but If I’m at The Factory Cafe I’ll have a pour over. At home we drink coffee made with our Aeropress. One coffee that always stands out to me is the Malawian Mzuzu.

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In which coffee shops are we likely to bump into you?

Definitely Duke & Duchess in Umhlanga or The Factory Cafe in Glenwood/Umbilo.

What does a perfect day look like?

Well it’s a Saturday, of course, that includes a sleep in, spending a couple hours in a coffee shop with a cup of coffee and slice of cake. Hanging out with my husband and friends, ending the day on the couch with a home cooked meal and a funny series or movie. That kind of day would be Instagram worthy with the hashtag #happyheart 🙂

Coffey & Cake is one of the coffee blogs you have to be reading this year. Find out why and see my other recommendations here.

Humans of coffee: Kevin Clark

Who is Kevin Clark?

I am a husband of a beautiful wife, father of an amazing son, lover of life, crazy about coffee and a man of God through life.

What is your best childhood memory?

This is a tough one! I’ll have to go soppy on this one. It might be the time we went to Disney world and I did this show/experience (they were teleporting aliens) with my dad, I landed up being terrified the whole way through while my dad laughed but it was in that moment I knew my dad was my protector and I could trust him or it could be one of the many road trips as a family going away for Christmas with a packed car and the empty Karoo.

If you had a chance for a “do-over” in life, what would you do differently?

I’m not sure I want to do anything over again, I mean there are many things I wish I hadn’t said or done but all of my mistakes or slip ups have made who I am and I have learnt from them. I’m not proud of some things but someone once said “we are the sum total of our past experiences”. I think that’s true. Gun to my head answer, I would like to have done better, I may say school, I would have liked to have done better, so that I can spell now as an adult!

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What do you feel most proud of?

My family. My whole family, we all are involved in a non-profit of sorts and we are all making a deference in people’s lives, or I hope we are. I love what we stand for and I’m proud of how they are trying to change the world around them. When I say my family I’m talking about my parents, sister and my wife.

If you could only keep three possessions, what would they be and why?

A watch, bible and knife. All practical and can be used for any problem in life. Time to run, spiritual and time to eat! Haha!

What do you want your tombstone to say?

Here lies Kevin Clark. He lived out his purpose, glorified God, loved his family and left a lasting mark on this planet.

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What is Vintage Coffee?

We are a volunteer based organization making the best coffee we can to benefit our city. We make coffee and donate our profits to a different non profit organization every month. One cup at a time people are making a difference.

We are a family and believe in doing things with excellence but having fun doing it. We also eat together a lot.

What’s your favorite kind of coffee, brew method or coffee origin?

At home a pour over is my go to, but a Chemex is by far my favorite. I don’t have one region that I prefer but I do like a coffee that has a sweet candy taste to it, like speckled eggs from woolies! My best. But if my drink is going to have milk in it, then a double restreto cappuccino.

In which coffee shops are we likely to bump into you?

Bean There, I seem to work too much to go anywhere.

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What does a perfect day look like?

A great day starts with a pour over then a tasty breakfast that I didn’t make (going to a breakfast spot) then maybe some pool time and a nap on the couch. To round up the perfect day would be to have friends over and have a good old braai with some Brazilian flavor (my wife is from Brazil) steak and beer is always a good end to the day.

All images from Kevin’s Instagram page.

Also check out the post we did about Vintage Coffee here

Humans of coffee: Brent Spilkin

Who is Brent Spilkin?

I have affectionately been called Spillly (with 3Ls) for the last decade, a decade in which I have changed careers three times, discovered my endless supply of hope for a South African resurrection and through much pain and heartache found true love both at home and in my work life.

What is your best childhood memory?

I distinctly remember the joy of digging a fairly substantial hole in my mothers back garden where I was determined to have a swimming pool. I never succeeded in completing the excavation but did enjoy ramping my 50cc scooter over it like Evel Knievel for many years after.

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If you had a chance for a “do-over” in life, what would you do differently?

I have had a very varied past that has lead me to where I am today, which is a very happy place, so I wouldn’t change much at all. The only thing I know I would do differently having the beauty of hindsight is applied more sunscreen to my ginger skin in my youth!

What do you feel most proud of?

I’m extremely proud of having successfully run a large business with hundreds of staff for 17 years and then having the courage to unsuccessfully exit the business to reimagine my life and career, but I’m the most proud of having the awesome circle of friends and family that I do.

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If you could only keep three possessions, what would they be and why?

If my house was on flames and I could only carry out three possessions they would have to be, in no particular order, my grandfathers stamp collection, my pair of 1990 red Converse Cons One Star Pro sneakers that have travelled the world and that hold countless memories for me and lastly my Vespa GTV 250 scooter that has grown so close to my heart. Wait… do dogs count as possessions?

What do you want your tombstone to say?

My last will and testament clearly states that my remains are to be cremated and I haven’t really decided where my ashes should be kept but scattering them over the Jozi skyline at dusk seems appealing. My wife says my tombstone should read, “Here lies Spillly – he liked to chill.” I do.

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What is www.growingpains.biz?

Growing Pains is my business consultancy where we help all manner of creative agencies and businesses around the world, to define their own growth objectives, create the strategy to achieve these goals and then measure the success of the plan in action. If a great athlete has a coach, why shouldn’t a great business owner?

What’s your favorite kind of coffee?

I find that the right moment dictates the right kind of coffee and coffee experience. Some of my clients will serve me cheap instant coffee on a cold factory floor on a winters morning and that is 100% apt for the moment, but I do favour a smooth Cortado or a well-made cappuccino. I drink my coffee warm, not boiling, and recently without sugar for health reasons.

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In which coffee shops are we likely to bump into you?

I find that Father Coffee in Braamfontein makes the most consistent cup that is just right for my taste. I also frequent 4th Avenue Coffee roasters in Parkhurst who brew a decent take away cappuccino – they are also right next door my offices, so that helps too! I do occasionally buy a blend from Bean There in 44 Stanley, which I would use at home when I have the time.

What does a perfect day look like?

The perfect day is waking up, eating breakfast and hitting the slopes on a snowboard for 6 hours, but that doesn’t happen often enough.

I’m usually awake by 7am most work days, where I snooze for 20 minutes or so, before taking my bike to the office, smelling the fresh air and coffee being brewed en route. At about 10am, after my first consultation, I grab a vegetarian breakfast at one of the local restaurants to fuel the balance of the day. My workday is filled with intelligent conversations with smart people, which are mentally draining so I try finish up work as early as possible to shoot home and walk the dogs with my lovely wife. Most nights we eat at home and then pop out for a quick coffee or drink after the meal to unwind and catch up on each other’s day. For me, enjoying each day is essential and finding consistent calm and joy in my life, rather than the extreme highs and lows so many people live with, is essential.

The fundamentals of brewing coffee

The fundamentals of brewing coffee are straight forward. We complicate things a little too much sometimes. Keep the following things in mind and you’re on your way to a great brew.

Water is a big factor…

Water represents around 90 percent of your brew. In fact, you’re drinking delicious flavoured water. I don’t want to get too geeky and explain water chemistry, but to create the perfect cup, your water needs to be the best it can be.

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First, if the water doesn’t taste right, don’t use it. It’s pretty simple.

As a rule, bottled spring water or a good filtration system are your best bets. I use filtered water from my Brita filter jug. Brita filters are an easy and cheap way to get great quality water both for brewing coffee and drinking. I did an experiment comparing Melbourne tap water to tap water filtered through my Brita filter jug. The results where based on taste. The Brita filter produced a sweeter and more acidic cup.

Second, for most brewing methods, I recommend heating your water to 92-96 degree celsius for the best flavour extraction. Using a thermometer to measure the temperature is definitely the best way to go. If you haven’t got a thermometer, allow your kettle to get to boiling temperature and then let it rest for 30-45 seconds.

Grinding

To keep your coffee fresh, it’s best to grind your coffee only when you need to use it. Grind it when you’re ready to start brewing. There are many grinders on the market: from the trusty hand grinder to the fully automatic versions. I suggest you try and get a burr grinder. Burr grinders are great because they produce are very even grind size.

I adjust the grind size for each brewing method. I write my brewing guides the way I like to brew, but it’s definitely something you can adjust to suit your taste. It’s good to experiment with grind and dose size. For example, try a higher dose with a coarser grind or a finer grind with a smaller dose.

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Roast

When you’re brewing for filter, use beans with a lighter roast profile (rather than an espresso roast profile). Lighter roasts perform better in the cup when brewing filter coffee. They are sweeter and have a lot more clarity. If roasted well, you will find that the flavour profile is true to the origin characteristics. For example, Ethiopian coffees should be bright, very floral and have high acidity.

Pay attention to the roast date on the bag. I think consuming filter roasts between 2 to 8 days is optimum. You will lose some of those subtle flavours in your brew if your coffee gets older.

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Cleaning 

You should clean your brewing equipment after every use. If you leave your equipment dirty for a long period of time, coffee oils tend to leave a rancid smell. The easiest way to clean your equipment is straight after each use in hot water. Cleaning solutions can be used, but be sure to rinse throughly. You don’t want a soapy taste in your next brew.

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This post was written by Matthew De Angelis, a coffee roaster from Melbourne, Australia and a coffee blogger at Brewing is for Everyone. Since people are becoming more and more interested in all the different brewing methods available, he decided to create simple brewing methods that he does in his own kitchen and share them on Brewing is for Everyone. Go check it out for more recipes, machine reviews and people interviews. All images from his awesome  Instagram feed.

Cappuccino, Latte, Mocha, Flat White: What’s The Difference?

The choice of coffee is no longer one of whether you’ll take it with sugar, milk or black. Nowadays every local and chain café offers a wide range of coffees of which most are espresso based.

While many people probably know that an espresso is a small shot of black coffee and a cappuccino has milk, the difference between a cappuccino, flat white, latte or mocha might be harder to pin down.

Whether you want to be savvier at the coffee shop or replicate the drink you like the most at home, here’s your guide to untangling the differences. So, how can we make differentiate between cappuccino vs latte vs mocha vs flat white?

The Basics: Espresso and frothed or steamed milk

First of all, it’s important to know that all these drinks begin with a strong shot of espresso and then use varying amounts of frothed or steamed milk. A cappuccino, for example, will use equal parts espresso, frothed and steamed milk, whereas a latte will be largely steamed milk with a small amount of frothed milk on top.

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Image by Joshua Vasko

Cappuccino

As mentioned above, a cappuccino often contains equal parts of espresso, frothed milk and steamed milk. While this is increasingly changing, the size of a cappuccino should normally be smaller than that of a latte and a cappuccino cup is usually between 150 and 180 ml, so quite a bit less than your cup measure. The size of the cup is important to get the right flavour – balancing a single shot of espresso with the right amount of milk.

How to make Cappuccino

Many barristas will start by pouring the 1/3 of steamed milk in the bottom of the cup. They will then pour the espresso carefully inside and finally spoon the frothed milk on top. This creates the right layering of flavour and textures.

However, if you are making it at home on an espresso machine that needs to heat up to be able to foam the milk it is probably best to begin with the coffee and then add the steamed milk and finally spoon the frothed milk on top. Alternatively for a more velvety texture you can begin with spooning in the frothed milk and then carefully pour the steamed milk on top. This is supposed to create the type of layered microfoam (small bubbles of air incorporated into the milk) that makes a cappuccino great.

Caffè Latte

The big brother of the cappuccino – the latte – is often made with a double shot of espresso making up 1/3 of the cup, along with 2/3s steamed milk and then a smaller layer of frothed milk on top. A full 240 ml cup is usually used for a latte.

In its country of origin – Italy – however, a “caffè latte” is only a coffee with milk and the short form “latte” is simply a glass of milk. The preparation you see outside of Italy named a latte would rather be called a “latte macchiato” in its homeland.

How to make Caffè Latte

Similar to the cappuccino you will need to layer the espresso and the steamed milk. However, because we only want a small layer of frothed milk on top you pour fairly liquid steamed milk onto the espresso while holding a spoon to stop any of the frothed milk from mixing.

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Image by Kiara Von Blackensee

Mocha

The mocha, mocaccino or caffè mocha is in its essence a strong hot chocolate with a shot of espresso and steamed milk added to it. Often equal parts of espresso and hot chocolate is used along with a smaller amount of steamed milk amounting to approximately a fifth of the espresso and chocolate. Additionally a layer of frothed milk – similar to a latte can be added on top.

Variations of mocha use either cocoa powder mixed into the milk or chocolate syrup added on top of the steamed milk. Replacing the final layer of frothed milk with cream can create a more luxurious version.

A double shot of espresso (60 ml) would commonly be added to equal (or greater) amounts of chocolate along with about 20-40 ml of steamed milk to make the same sized cup as used for a cappuccino.

How to make Mocha

Prepare the hot chocolate and the espresso. Layer the chocolate with the espresso and then finally carefully pour in the steamed milk. Finish off with spooning either cream or frothed milk on top. A sprinkling of cocoa powder on top serves to intensify the chocolate taste.

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Image by Paul

Flat White

A newcomer to UK and Europe, this is a coffee variant originating from New Zealand and Australia. A flat white is usually smaller than a latte and uses a microfoam mixture of both froth and liquid steamed milk. This creates an even and smoothed mixing of the milk without the types of layers seen in the latte or cappuccino. There should be a velvety foam mixed well with the espresso which creates the difference from a latte where a latte is more like coffee with milk.

How to make Flat White

Prepare the espresso and then freely pour the steamed milk into the cup. The ratios should be approximately 1/3 espresso and 2/3s milk. The steamed milk should form a microfoam but not have a stiff foam as that used on top of a latte or cappuccino.

Frothed vs steamed milk: what’s the difference and how do you make them?

What you might have realised from reading this far is that the main difference of all these espresso based drinks lies in the milk. Ensuring that the milk has the right texture and foaminess is important for both how the drink feels in the mouth but also for how it mixes with the coffee and creates the unique flavour of the drink.

To create microfoamed, frothed or steamed milk you will need use the steaming function of your espresso machine or a milk frother. The aim of either of these tools is to introduce air into the milk.

However, the steaming wand has the additional function of heating up your milk by using steam. If you are using a milk frother you need to heat the milk up in a pot while frothing it. The ideal temperature of milk used for espresso drinks is around 65 degrees C so it is recommended to carefully heat it if using a stove – once it reaches 70 degrees C the milk will change flavour and ruin your drink.

The difference between different forms of frothed or steamed milk lies in the amount of air that is introduced into the milk.

For frothed milk you should introduce a lot of air, doubling it in volume whereas steamed milk should increase by about one third. In both cases you place the steaming wand or the frother just below the surface to create a vortex, but in the case of frothed milk you gradually lower the wand towards the bottom in order to build up a layer of foam on the top.

To create a microfoam texture you want to first froth the top layer of milk and then put the wand towards the bottom to create steamed milk. You finally tap the milk against the counter or with your hand and let it sit so that the bubbles fully settle. Before pouring (into your flat white) you ensure to carefully turn the container of milk a couple of times so that you get a smooth mixing of foam and liquid when pouring into your espresso.

This post by Stella Robinson, editor at Coffee Tea Club. She began her career doing social marketing in the telecom industry; however, she has been blogging independently since 2015. She loves all good things related to food and drinks: coffee, tea, chocolate, good wine, cheese, you name it. She lives in London with her dog Nifty.

You’ve been using the French Press wrong all this time

The French Press has been a household staple for a very long time. Depending on where you come from, the French Press is also known as a plunger (Australia, New Zealand), caffettiera a stantuffo (Italy), cafetière à piston (France) and coffee press (USA).

Its classic design hasn’t changed much since its invention in 1929 by Milanese designer Attilio Calimani. It remains one of the most popular brewing devices due to its simple brewing method and heavier cup profile.

What you will need:

  • French Press
  • Freshly ground coffee
  • Hot water
  • Goose neck kettle (not crucial)
  • Scale
  • Timer
  • Stir stick or spoon
  • Cup

Method:

  1. Warm up your French Press by filling it with hot water.  I do this to pre-heat the French Press. It will help maintain the temperature once you start brewing.
  2. Weigh out 18.5 grams and grind the beans to a coarse consistency. It should feel a little coarser than table salt.
  3. Discard the hot water from the French Press.
  4. Pour your ground coffee into the French Press and gently shake it to settle the grounds. Make sure you tare the scale to zero.
  5. Start your timer as soon as you add hot water. Fill your French Press with 250 mL (92-96 degrees celsius). Make sure you saturate all the grounds. We don’t want any dry spots.
  6. Once your timer hits 1 minute,  you will notice a thick layer of coffee forming on top of the water. With a wooden stirrer or the back of a spoon, push that crust down and give it a gentle stir.
  7. Put the top on your French Press and allow the coffee to brew without pressing it down.
  8. At 3:30 minutes, grab a spoon and scoop off any floating foam or particles of coffee. This enhances cup quality.
  9. Once the timer hits 4 minutes, gently push the press all the way down.
  10. Immediately pour all the coffee out of the French Press. We don’t want the coffee extracting anymore than 4 minutes.
  11. Enjoy.

This post was written by Matthew De Angelis, a coffee roaster from Melbourne, Australia and a coffee blogger at Brewing is for Everyone. Since people are becoming more and more interested in all the different brewing methods available, he decided to create simple brewing methods that he does in his own kitchen and share them on Brewing is for Everyone. Go check it out for more recipes, machine reviews and people interviews.

Cover image by Blue Bottle Coffee Company.