Caffè ArtJava: Real Espresso in Montreal

[Also posted on CoffeeGeek…]

Just back from my first time at Caffè ArtJava.

First shot I got was in fact sub-standard. Way too bright, very thin, very little crema, not that aromatic, very faint fruity notes way back in the background, lots of lingering bitterness. Also got a macchiato which was rather similar (IOW, the milk didn’t hide the flaws of the shot. The art was ok but there’s better…)
While at the cash, a barista asked me about the coffee. Couldn’t help but be honest, saying that I thought the temperature must be off. Turns out, they’ve been experimenting temperature problems since last night. Apparently, they do get 202-203 at the beginning of the day but, at the end of the day, temperature dropped to 198 or so.
So the barista advised me to go talk to Spiro (the owner), which I did.
Spiro was great. We talked for quite a bit of time about coffee and even tea. He’s got his bases covered, this guy. He poured me two shots which were both much better than the one I had at first. These were all made with Leftist (they alternate with Platinum Blonde, apparently). The shots he poured were quite good: full-bodied, good crema, very aromatic, well-balanced, some underlining fruity notes but dominant roasty/nutty character, good temperature… Spiro poured a shot for himself and we talked about it. It’s an extremely good sign when a café owner is ready to be critical about his own coffee, talk to customers, listen to critiques and criticisms. What’s more, Spiro was discussing something visibly important with someone when I went to see him and he didn’t lose his countenance when I told him about the temperature issue. Wow!
Most café owners would probably say something of the order of “well, my customers like it so it must be good” which not only gets on your nerves but implies that they never even taste their own coffee. Sheesh!
Apparently, CAJ will be getting some Cup of Excellence single-origin Columbian for espresso soon. Can’t wait to try it. One would think that a Columbian wouldn’t be complex enough to be used as single-origin but if Gimme!Coffee and CAJ are doing it, it’s at least worth a try.

So, it’s really refreshing to see someone as enthusiastic about coffee as Spiro. The stage is set for a nice “coffee revolution” in town. As Spiro says, the coffee scene in town was in fact much better ten or fifteen years ago. Now’s the time for us, coffee lovers, to take back the town! 😉

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