A downtown coffee roundup (Kingston) – Some surprises!
I decided that I would do a little coffee tour while working on a grand rounds project in order to: a) keep myself thoroughly caffeinated and b) to get my butt out of the house so I could get some work done. While I did not include all coffee shops in downtown Kingston, I managed to make it to 4 downtown staples. My apologies if I didn’t make it to a coffee shop that anyone really wanted me to check out.
I did not include Starbucks in this comparison as I felt that people will always go to Starbucks regardless of the quality of their coffee. The marketing machine is so powerful that I find myself buying a Creme Brulee Latte more often than I would like over the holidays.
My method was simple: A small single shot cappucino. A small single shot latte. No special requests. No sugar. Let’s see what these baristas can do! First up was Sipps. It has a really nice location overlooking Market Square. You almost feel like you part of the heartbeat of the community.
Wow. So many rules. I was not impressed. If you read between the lines, it is really asking people who are there by themselves to not sit at a full table. Also… it is saying: Get the hell out after 1 hour. One more thing to add: no free Internet. I wouldn’t want to stay one hour even if they allowed it.
This is the latte. You can see the uneven bubbles and the nice spoon they left behind for me in my cup. Clearly they used a spoon to dump the foam on top. It really looks unappetizingly frothy. The espresso was over-pulled, bitter, and almost had a taste of cleanser. J didn’t finish hers. It really didn’t even taste like coffee. It had no coffee aroma.
This is the cappuccino. The espresso was again over-pulled and bitter. I couldn’t shake that taste of cleanser in my mouth.
Look at all the bubbles in this cappuccino! Big ones, small ones, and you can see the canyons of foam sitting on top of this mug.
And when you drink the foam, you can see the crevasses and cracks of foam in your mug. It had the consistency of bubbles from a bubble bath. A nice foam should be texturized milk and very creamy! Overall, I did not enjoy my experience at Sipps. 2 badly pulled espressos and some pretty bad steamed milk. There were also a ton of rules so I have no idea why anyone would ever come here. Sipps, 33 Brock Street, Kingston, ON K7L 1R7, (613) 542-8868, sippscoffee.com
Next up was Coffee and Company. With an abundance of tables, it is really popular with students who often will fill the large space as they cram for exams and write papers.
Here is the latte. The espresso was nicely pulled with some nice earthiness and nuttiness to it. My only gripe: I hate drinking coffee in beer glasses.
Very nice microbubbles! You can see how even it is compared to Sipps.
This is the cappuccino. The foam is not quite as even as in the latte but it is still quite good. Again, the espresso was quite nice. Overall, Coffee and Company is a great place to spend a few hours working on a paper (or grand rounds in my case). Free Internet + many tables + cozy atmosphere = great place for students. The espresso is nice and they steam milk pretty well. They also serve Godiva chocolates but I’ve never purchased any. 53 Princess Street, Kingston, ON, (613) 547-9211, no website.
Next up was Sleepless Goat. I don’t always love the atmosphere here. It has its charms but sometimes I find it too busy, too loud, and too messy. The tables are pretty rickety and the surfaces aren’t always the cleanest. That being said, it is not without its charms. You can stay here indefinitely. There is free Internet. They have board games. There is lot of stuff happening in this coffee shop. They also serve vegetarian food (which I am not a huge fan of secondary to it being quite greasy) and desserts.
Here is the cappuccino. The steamed milk isn’t quite as even as Coffee and Company but the espresso was really quite nice. It was very strong, fragrant, but maybe a little one-noted.
Here is the latte. Again, the steamed milk is a bit nicer at Coffee and Company but the espresso was pretty tasty. If you like strong coffee and really want a buzz, their shots will hit the spot.
While I am not a big fan of their vegetarian food, I do really enjoy their desserts. The dessert counter is huge with many many cakes being served at any given time. This is a triple mouse dacquois (dessert cake made with nutty meringue and mousse). The chocolate “enjoy” was cute.
This really was a delicious dessert. It was rich without being too sweet or heavy. As such, you didn’t feel disgusting after eating it. Overall, I really like the desserts at the Sleepless Goat. Their espresso shots were pulled nicely but they could steam their milk a little nicer. While I have mixed feeling about the atmosphere, the desserts will bring me back again and again. Sleepless Goat, 91 Princess Street, Kingston, ON K7L 1A6, (613) 545-9646, no website.
Last but not least was Coffeeco (in Kingston Centre). It isn’t technically downtown but I included it anyway. There is a location on Johnson St. and I hear that they are opening a location on Ontario St. They are all about organic, free trade, Bull Frog power etc etc etc. That is all nice but for me the bottom line is a good cup of coffee. The atmosphere is a bit sterile and it is often quite empty so if you are going for coffee to feel less lonely… this may not be the best place for you. They do however offer free Internet.
Boy, do they deliver. This is the cappuccino. You can see how even the foam bubbles are. It was delicious. The espresso was complex, strong, fragrant, and invigorating. I really enjoyed this espresso shot the most.
And this is the latte. Our barista didn’t go for latte art but you can see how perfect this steamed milk is. The bubbles are velvety, smooth, and have an even texture. It almost looks like clouds. Again, the espresso is wonderfully strong and fragrant. I am so glad that there is a Coffeeco in Kingston and that they are expanding! Coffeeco, 1046 Princess Street, Kingston, ON, (613) 542-7994, www.coffeeco.ca
Overall, I think the pictures illustrate for themselves the variation in quality of steamed milk from these four vendors. You will have to go to these shops to see if you like the flavour of their espresso. I am again continually impressed with Coffeeco but today I was surprised to find out how much I liked Coffee and Company and the espresso at Sleepless Goat.