Coffee experts take on Café Myriade

The third wave joe at Myriade is the subject of the first Coffee Crawl report by a team from local importation company RGC.

Sarah, a barista at Myriade. Photo by Olivia Martinez-Carlos(scroll down for a full gallery)
This is the first in a series of Coffee Crawl reports by a team of specialists from local importation company RGC Coffee. Their mission: to find the best cups of joe within the emerging specialty coffee scene in Montreal.
The new wave of coffee is slowly but surely arriving in Montreal, largely influenced by our friends to the west. Coffee Meccas such as Portland, Seattle and Vancouver are changing the way we roast and experience our coffees, pushing limits of experimentation. Ten years ago, the dark French roast was king. Today it is the light roast. Whatever your preference is, I can assure any non-coffee drinkers that their magic potion is out there.

On a relatively mild morning in January, we congregated on the corner of Ste-Catherine and Metcalfe, awaiting the opening of the new Café Myriade in the depths of Club Monaco (1000 Ste-Catherine W.). Descending into the café, one is reminded of a bright Victorian tea salon, with its white marble tabletops, bookshelves stacked with hipster lit and mouldings reminiscent of a golden age, long gone but not forgotten.  Monopolizing half of the small café’s seating and accompanied by warm and delicious Hof Kelsten croissants, the seven of us set out with our coffee tastings and review.

On the menu for us this day were unique and satisfying single origin specialty coffees. For our purposes, a specialty coffee drink is not your friendly neighbourhood Frappuccino with extra whipped cream. The bean itself, when ‘cupped’ black, has to meet stringent standards for aroma, flavour, acidity and body among other criteria (tangible or intangible). In simple terms, you can drink it black… and actually enjoy it! Within the realm of specialty, there is no good or bad. The coffees that make it to this level are all beautiful and unique in their own way.  One just needs to find the right method of compelling the flavours (but not oils) out of the beans.

On this occasion, we sampled two unique single origin roasts from two of Canada’s top specialty roasters. The brew methods were different but the enjoyment was the same.

49th Parallel – Epic Espresso

DSC02304Roast date: Jan. 13(11 days from roast)

Method: Espresso and latte (19g of coffee pulled between 29-32 seconds)

Evaluation: Key lime, citrus blast, tangerine

Comments: Sharp acidity with a strong bite

Roast profile: Light, almost cinnamon roast

A perfect example of third wave coffee. Unlike our traditional European counterparts, roast colours are trending more and more towards a light roast, which allows the unique characteristics to shine. They also bring out acidity and tend to have a lighter body. In an espresso, there is no room for error — every minute defect is magnified and when tempting fate with the light roast, one must be on point in terms of quality (check) and extraction (double check). Our wonderful barista Sarah skillfully pulled shots with the confidence any seasoned craftsman wields. A strong and wonderful espresso, it is not for the faint of heart (but straight espresso shots never are). Drink with caution and cut it with some frothed milk for a lovely nutty flavour and smoother experience.

Phil and Sebastian – Kenya ‘Karinga’

DSC02342Roast date: Jan. 19(5 days roasted)

Method: Pour-over (25g of coffee for 400g of water)

Evaluation: Mellow, light body, chocolaty, cranberry, floral, apple, cherry, herbal

Comments: Subtle sweet flavours, rather than the kick-in-the-face espresso style. Tea-like aromatics.

Roast profile: Light, almost cinnamon roast

After slowly sipping a sharp espresso, it was time to switch gears and evaluate a completely different coffee with a slower yet rewarding method of brewing: the pour-over. Upon first impression, you don’t feel like you’re drinking coffee, or at least coffee brewed using a conventional method. The pour-over extracts the subtle flavours that would otherwise be hidden and the light roast allows the inherent characteristics in the cup to come to the forefront when it would otherwise be masked. This brew contained more tea-like characteristics than anything else. A sweet and mild coffee with warm berry and cocoa notes, this drink can be enjoyed at your own pace, by average drinkers and coffee snobs alike — though I’ve got to say that it would be shameful to add milk or sugar to such a purely unique beverage and roast. Recommended for anyone looking to drink their coffee slowly and enjoy the experience in a warm, comforting environment. Beginners beware: coffee addictions are started this way. ■
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