Growing up I never enjoyed the taste of coffee. I used to not even like the taste of coffee ice cream or coffee flavored cakes. My mom has always been a big fan of coffee so she would try to get me to taste hers, but I never enjoyed it. Even all the way through university I opted to get my caffeine fix from a Red Bull instead of a simple coffee. This all changed after spending a summer working at a local cafe, which gave me unlimited access to high quality espresso and allowed me to experiment with different drink combinations and foaming techniques. I gained a new appreciation for the flavor and craftsmanship that goes into a real latte. I was hooked.
I really like to try out new coffee shops and experience the ambiance of a lively neighborhood cafe. Most recently I discovered a new espresso bar that opened in my area. Bulldog coffee is well known in the Toronto coffee scene and just opened a second location in the Yonge & Eglinton area this summer. The main location has been a downtown hot spot for the past 8 years and it has a huge and very loyal fan base. The owner, Stuart Ross, can be described as an espresso purist in every sense of the word. One who believes espresso should be experienced in its most natural form; no sugar, no milk, no extra water. The flavor of a properly crafted espresso should have its own sweetness. My only experience with him has been a brief encounter at the downtown location. It wasn’t an entirely memorable one, but many sources of online reviews paint him as less than friendly.
Anyway, this is about the new location and my experience was pleasant. The place was nearly empty, with only one other table of 3 women in the entire restaurant, when I visited on a weekday afternoon. Compared to the nearby Aroma espresso bar, Bulldog could be considered a ghost town. The emptiness gave the place a bit of a cold feel and they did not offer wifi which put a damper in my plans to do some writing while sipping a latte.
I ordered a regular latte and a blueberry scone as you can see. One of my favorite things at these specialty espresso bars is the beautiful latte art that comes on a well crafted latte. This is more than just presentation, it is also an indication of a quality foam and espresso. The reason for this is because when you pull a good espresso shot it releases oils and creates what is called crema. This is the top part of the espresso shot and when foamed milk is poured you can create all kinds of latte art.
The latte was perfectly made and very flavorful. The foam was rich and nearly as thick as a marshmallow. It was a very good coffee but the scone was the star of this little coffee break. It was super moist, which was pretty surprising for a scone. Most of the scones you find at the chain coffee joints are hard and dry, leaving you begging for a sip of your coffee. I’m not sure what’s the secret of this moisture but I was pleasantly surprised.
Overall I really liked what Bulldog Coffee had to offer in the food department, but for the combination of atmosphere and great taste I think I’ll be sticking to my go-to local coffee joint, Aroma.