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The progressive coffee scene in Montreal (Montreal Gazette)
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marlap
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marlap
Joined: 5 May 2012
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Posted Sat May 5, 2012, 7:18am
Subject: The progressive coffee scene in Montreal (Montreal Gazette)
 

Hi All,

I'm a brand-new member, and this is my first post on this forum. I've been interested in making good espressos for a couple of years now, and have come across much good info concerning the coffee world from this site. Thanks to you all who have contributed to made this site what it is. I've noticed that there seems to be quite a few members from the Montreal area; this is what prompted me to join up today, as I came upon an interesting coffee article from the Montreal Gazette, as follows:

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________

First Article:

A selection of progressive cafés (in Montreal area)

A lot can happen in a year. These are just the progressive cafés to open since last May - there are
other worthy addresses in the city, of course. Montreal now has two microroasters to call its own -
year-old Saint Henri Microtorréfacteur (sainthenri.ca) and Kittel, which started in the east end
just a couple of weeks ago (kittelcoffee.com).

Le Couteau/The Knife
April 2012
4627 St. Denis St.
514-419-9400
lecouteau.ca
With seating for 45this largeairy room is one of the larger and lovelier shops in the citywith carefully curated treatsteas and vegan baked goods.

Coffee roasters: 49th Parallel Différance
March 2012
449 Viger Ave. W.
514-419-5415
cafedifferance.ca
On weekdaysthis sleek space serves suits from the Quartier International. On weekendsit hosts
tasting workshops and bring-in-your-machine consultations to help optimize your home setup. Coffee
roasters: Madcap (Grand RapidsMich.) and Barismo (Boston)

Café Sardine
February 2012
9 Fairmont St. E.
514-802-8899
cafesardine.com
Cozy café by daysmall-plates restaurant by nightSardine packs them in.
Look for homemade doughnuts (including choco-chai or juniper-honey) displayed in a red tool box.
Coffee roasters: Phil & Sebastian (Calgary)

La Distributrice
December 2011
408 Mont-Royal Ave. E.
no phone
Stand up and sip. This is a real sidewalk caféoffering coffee and potato doughnuts from a window
under a staircase. Coffee roasters: Detour (DundasOnt.)

Pourquoi Pas,
November 2011
1447 Amherst St.,
514-419-9400
This low-key Village coffee house usually has three seasonal espressos to choose fromand uses
Aeropress for its brewed coffee. Coffee roasters: Te Aro (Toronto)

Fixe Comptoir Santé
November 2011
5985 St. Hubert St.
514-270-6667
On the evolving strip south of Plaza St. HubertFixe is operated by barista brothers. There's a
full menutoo. Coffee roasters: Detour (DundasOnt.)

Entre le Café et La Plume
August 2011
123 Mont-Royal Ave. W.
514-903-2618
cafeplume.com
Within spitting distance of Mount RoyalPlume is brightened by a bay windowglassbubble lights
and rotating roster of local art. Bonus: homemade biscotti. Coffee roasters: Verve (Santa CruzCalif.)

Hoche Café
August 2011
4288 Ontario St. W.
514-419-7997
The changing face of HoMa. Hoche Café welcomes with blocky tablesblackboards and booksdebate
nights and creative sandwiches. Coffee roasters: Metropolis (Chicago)

La Tache de Café
August 2011
834 Décarie Blvd.
514-747-3339
A lone western outpost on the fringe of the third-wave scene. The added draw: homemade ice cream
(including flavours like nutmegEarl Grey tea and pistachio with house-roasted nuts)so look for
affogatos come summer. Coffee roasters: 49th Parallel

Pikolo Espresso Bar,
July 2011
3418B Parc Ave.
514-508-6800
Tucked away in a heritage buildingthe skinny room has original fixtures like paned glasstin
ceilings and woodworkand sweet treats baked on site. Coffee roasters: Heart (PortlandOregon) and
Phil & Sebastian (Calgary)

Flocon Espresso
May 2011
781 Mont-Royal Ave. E.
514-903-9994
floconespresso. com
Little sister of Neve on Rachel St.this snowflake was one of the first to drift into the St. Denis
and Mont Royal areanow progressive coffee central. Coffee roasters: Metropolis (Chicago) and
Stumptown (PortlandOre.and BrooklynN.Y.)

(I intend to convert the above into an Excel spreadsheet, which I'll post at a later time)

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________

Second Article (published in the Montreal Gazette Newspaper on Saturday, May 5th 2012)


Montreal wakes up, smells the coffee

Cutting edge cafés are sprouting across the city, serving artisanal brews with near-obsessive attention to detail

Some are big, some are small and all are serious about what they do. A new wave of progressive coffee shops has been gathering force in Montreal during the last few years, and with more than 10 cutting-edge cafés opening their doors in the last 12 months, the movement toward better-quality cups is cresting. The city, connoisseurs say, is finally waking up and smelling the coffee.

"Now, when people come into town, we can actually say we have a good coffee scene. Go back three, four years ago, and you couldn't say that," says Marie-Ève Laroche, owner of 10-monthold Pikolo Espresso Bar. "And the more that people get curious, and start drinking it, the more chances that there will be only good coffee in town one day."

The definition of "good" goes deep. In her tiny café on Parc Ave., Laroche is driven by a "crop to cup" philosophy that's shared by many of the young entrepreneurs who are collectively raising the coffee bar, from the process of production to pulling shots. They know where their beans are coming from, what they're purchasing and who's roasting them, and they're relentless in finding the best expression of the coffee that they can.

What's striking about Montreal's progressive coffee community is not only the complex flavours in the cup - this is not just miles away from weak, bitter, over-extracted office coffee, it's a different universe - it's also that its members tend to cheer for, rather than compete with, each other. As I made my way across town (more and more speedily after a shot at each stop), every café owner I spoke to had a suggestion for another new shop to check out, and all of them voiced the shared goal of improving the quality of coffee in the city and at its source. It's an alternative business model that has the big picture in mind.

"It's rapidly expanding, and we're getting to the point in the industry where getting across that we're doing something similar at these cafés is helpful to all of us," says Chris Capell, of month-old coffee house Le Couteau/The Knife, noting the commonalities: an emphasis on freshly sourced, roasted and ground beans, nurturing relationships with small-lot, singleorigin producers, connecting with micro-roasters who work in small, tightly controlled batches and bringing borderline-obsessive attention to detail, be it the water quality going in or the size of the bubbles in the steamed milk.

Capell, who worked in film before becoming a professional barista, had dreamed of opening his own shop since 2007 and spent two years scouting a location.

Fittingly, The Knife wound up replacing a Café Noir on St. Denis St. It's a relaxed tasting environment - with tabletops of repurposed slate from the pool table of the old Montreal Pool Room - but the approach is highly scientific. The shop is kitted out with the latest high-tech gadgetry: The espresso machine, a three-group Mirage by Dutch designer Kees Van Der Westen, retails for about $18,000. It's modified with thermometers built into the machine group heads for realtime temperature readings as shots are pulled.

The Knife doesn't just have a water-filtration system, it has a $3,800 water-treatment system. The different grinders are dialed in for different espressos, and grinds are adjusted throughout the day. The high-tech stuff - scales, timers and gadgets, like the $600 refractometer that looks like a blood sugar tester used by diabetics but is able to deliver information about the extraction percentage of the coffee - allows baristas to find the sweet spots for optimal expression of the product.

The current specialty coffee scene compares to the microbrewery scene that exploded here in the early 1990s. When artisanal operators began offering intriguing alternatives to big commercial beers, local palates were forever changed, as was the pub landscape. The public's appreciation for the craft deepened and has endured.

Similarly, small-scale roasters and quality-driven cafés are working together to push the limits: fostering connections on the ground with producers in Africa, South and Central America, discussing nutty or fruity flavour profiles associated with different terroirs and relentlessly searching for better brewing techniques, be they modified espresso machines or drip coffee techniques.

Among local purveyors, the term "progressive" is used to emphasize the progress that's being made at every link in the commodity chain. The movement, which took off more than a decade ago in the Pacific Northwest, is often called third-wave coffee. (The first wave being basic filter coffee, followed by the popularization of espresso machines, invented in Italy in the early-20th century as a faster way to make coffee, by second-wave chains like Starbucks and Second Cup.)

Montreal's scene began gathering steam in 2007, when Café Myriade - a partnership between champion barista Anthony Benda and Scott Rao, author of two seminal books for professional baristas - opened on Mackay St. downtown. For many local coffee drinkers who didn't know the beverage could taste that good, it was eye-opening. Likewise, for aspiring baristas.

"We're at a very interesting point in Montreal," says Daniel Alvarez, who launched Café Différance on Viger Ave. a few weeks ago. "The biggest evolution was from Myriade. It is the first proper coffee bar that has progress in mind, and it's quality-driven. After that, people realized that making quality the most important thing could be a good business model."

Montreal is still catching up to other markets. The more the merrier, café owners say, confident that progressive coffee is not just a fad.

"It's not a flash trend," Cappel says. "If you look at Australia, there's an espresso bar on every corner and they're all following these practices. Once it takes hold, it doesn't let go."

Laroche agrees. "When you start drinking good cups of coffee, you can't go back," she says, also citing the Australian example.

Before opening Pikolo, she travelled there to engage in various aspects of the trade, working on plantations and in Sydney bars and restaurants, gaining insight into the cropto-cup message she wanted to give future customers.

"The coffee scene there is way ahead," she notes. "Australia has historically had to be a self-sufficient country, so they are very independent and have had to figure out how to do things for themselves. They're growing the beans, they're roasting them and they are very aware of the whole chain that connects to consumers."

The country has an entrenched coffee culture: with considerable Greek and Italian immigration dating back to the 1930s, espresso machines were increasingly common by the mid-century, along with family-run roasters and independent cafés. The local artisanal scene is so thriving that major chains, such as Starbucks, haven't managed to make inroads - the brand closed more than half its outlets there in 2008 because Aussies didn't buy that vision of "premium" coffee.

If it has taken Montreal longer than some places to get to this point, it's partly because on this continent the movement started on the West Coast, and made its way east - New York was slower to catch on than other major cities, too. There was also, in the early days of online forums where many of the advances in brewing were being shared, a language barrier, as these exchanges were largely conducted in English. And Montreal has a more European affinity, with a public that is set in traditional coffee ways and not necessarily willing to give up its love for dark allongés (in Paris, for instance, progressive coffee is barely percolating).

But the progressive coffee style suits the spirit of the city, say Tyler Mastantuono and Tony Tanchaleune, two Toronto-based baristas who moved here last fall and managed to launch Pourquoi Pas on Amherst St. within three weeks of relocating.

"In Toronto, if people have to wait more than two minutes, they will literally grab any drink off the counter," Mastantuono says, noting that local customers want to take the time to chat about the differences between beans from specific Tanzanian, Brazilian and Rwandan farms. Still, Tanchaleune, who worked in Paris, says there's work to be done.

"People have become accustomed to the bitter taste, " he says with a shrug.

Listening in, a customer downs his espresso with a contented sigh. "I guess if you don't know what good is, you don't know what you're missing," he says, chuckling.

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________

I hope you all found this interesting and informative.

 Progressive Cafés in Montreal.xls
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SimonPatrice
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Joined: 8 Mar 2012
Posts: 54
Location: Montréal, Québec
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Caravel
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Posted Sat May 5, 2012, 5:17pm
Subject: Re: The progressive coffee scene in Montreal (Montreal Gazette)
 

Thank you very much for the articles.  I'm curious to know, did you get to try coffees from Kittel yet?  I have been going to Myriade the last couple of years and it remains a favorite but am now very grateful to have Tache de café nearby and started going to Café Plume recently when in the area (well, almost in the area.  It's good enough to make a detour for it.)  Had great service there and David was really helpful in choosing a coffee.  By the way, I'm curious, did you get a chance to taste the coffee roasted by Kittel?

Oh and welcome to the forum (I'm pretty new myself)
Patrice
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Endo
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Endo
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Posted Sat May 5, 2012, 5:49pm
Subject: Re: The progressive coffee scene in Montreal (Montreal Gazette)
 

I'm still waiting for a place on the south shore of Montreal. It's a coffee wasteland here.
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marlap
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marlap
Joined: 5 May 2012
Posts: 48
Location: Montreal
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Starbucks Barista Athena
Grinder: Braun KM 30 (modded)
Posted Sun May 6, 2012, 3:16am
Subject: Re: The progressive coffee scene in Montreal (Montreal Gazette)
 

SimonPatrice Said:

Thank you very much for the articles.  I'm curious to know, did you get to try coffees from Kittel yet?  I have been going to Myriade the last couple of years and it remains a favorite but am now very grateful to have Tache de café nearby and started going to Café Plume recently when in the area (well, almost in the area.  It's good enough to make a detour for it.)  Had great service there and David was really helpful in choosing a coffee.  By the way, I'm curious, did you get a chance to taste the coffee roasted by Kittel?

Oh and welcome to the forum (I'm pretty new myself)
Patrice

Posted May 5, 2012 link

No, I haven't. What's it like?
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Sylvain
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Posted Mon May 7, 2012, 5:20am
Subject: Re: The progressive coffee scene in Montreal (Montreal Gazette)
 

Thanks a lot for sharing. Really interesting.  Sylvain
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coffeestork
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Posted Mon May 7, 2012, 5:37pm
Subject: Re: The progressive coffee scene in Montreal (Montreal Gazette)
 

Enjoyed the list and added them to my Montreal Cafe Map ... http://www.coffeestork.com/map.html
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SimonPatrice
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Joined: 8 Mar 2012
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Expertise: I love coffee

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Posted Mon May 7, 2012, 6:51pm
Subject: Re: The progressive coffee scene in Montreal (Montreal Gazette)
 

marlap Said:

No, I haven't. What's it like?

Posted May 6, 2012 link

Honestly, I was hoping you'd tell me.  I've never tried it neither.
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marlap
Senior Member
marlap
Joined: 5 May 2012
Posts: 48
Location: Montreal
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Starbucks Barista Athena
Grinder: Braun KM 30 (modded)
Posted Thu May 10, 2012, 3:57pm
Subject: Re: The progressive coffee scene in Montreal (Montreal Gazette)
 

coffeestork Said:

Enjoyed the list and added them to my Montreal Cafe Map ... http://www.coffeestork.com/map.html

Posted May 7, 2012 link

Interesting, how does one go about making such a map? p.s., the map no longer seems to work, but I like the rest of the site.
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Gkittel
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Joined: 15 Jul 2008
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Location: Montréal
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat May 12, 2012, 6:08am
Subject: Re: The progressive coffee scene in Montreal (Montreal Gazette)
 

Hi Marlap, SimonPatrice

We are currently available in a handful of restaurant accros town. You can try the Nouveau Palais on Bernard ( corner Ave. du Parc ) or if you are in the east end I can recommand you to go to Chez Bouffe on Ste-Catherine E. in front of Denise Pelletier Theater.

We have very interesting discussion with sone coffeeshop in town. We will keep you posted on our blog on our website.


Otherwise, we are currently working on developping a taster pack. It will be available soon to buy online. But if you want to try it rightaway I can put something up for you to pickup at the workshop. Just email me at guillaume@kittelcoffee.com


Cheers !


Guillaume Kittel-Ouimet
Kittel Compagnie de café
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SimonPatrice
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Posted Sun May 13, 2012, 7:40pm
Subject: Re: The progressive coffee scene in Montreal (Montreal Gazette)
 

Thanks for the info!  Will be interested to see if your coffee gets to coffee shop and if so, which ones.  If I'm in the area, I'll try to stop by Nouveau Palais.
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