Coffee in Kingston – Disappointing in general
I really like coffee. I was quite disappointed when I first moved here to discover the number of coffee shops that existed but couldn’t pull a good espresso or steam milk very well. It was surprising considering that Kingston is a college town and we all can remember how much coffee we drank in undergrad.
I am not even talking about Starbucks though. I respect Starbucks (and to a lesser extent Second Cup) for revolutionizing the coffee industry and taking it out of the diner patron (a la Morrisons) and putting it square into the hands of the foodie. It really did a lot to elevate coffee but unfortunately, once you’ve been to an even nicer coffeehouse, Starbucks just can’t compare. The other local disappointments include Sleepless Goat, Coffee and Company, and Sipps (who served me a latte in a glass mug that was quite tall… I wasn’t sure if I was having a coffee or a pint).
Coffeeco is nice because they use locally roasted beans from Multatuli and they try to be environmentally friendly. But all that hippy stuff aside: they pull a mean espresso. It is the only place in Kingston that actually performs latte art. I used to really enjoy latte art as a way for the barista to show some creativity/craft in the latte but I realized recently that coffee that has latte art also tastes better! Why? Because to perform latte art, you need to have optimum steaming of your milk. You are aiming for microbubbles which creates a velvety smooth texture. So if you have a latte which latte art can be performed upon, you must have a perfectly steamed latte too!
Contrast this to every other coffee shop in Kingston: “I’d like a latte please”. “Sure.” Beans grind. Tap tap tap. Press the espresso. Start the automatic machine. Poor some 2% into a metal cup. Steam. Steam. STEAM. Espresso is done. Pour it into a cup. Pour the steamed milk into the cup. Use a spoon to plop on a delicious appearing dab of foam. Serve the latte. Gross. A well made latte or cappucino shouldn’t require a spoon to add the foam on top.
Coffeeco also uses a really nice Rancilio machine. Recently, Mug and Truffle opened just on King St. and I was shocked to find that they use an Elektra! An Elektra?? In Kingston?
I decided to chat up the owner because I assumed that anyone who uses an Elektra must love coffee like I do. Unfortunately, she was not the best at PR. Even my most engaging questions were met with 1-5 word answers. The coffee was also disappointing. Even the best beans must be used well to make a good espresso. It is a good example of how a super expensive machine can’t make up for uneven preparation. They do sell Kawartha ice cream so that is a plus. They also sell Michel Cluizel chocolate which is pretty nice but the cost adds up pretty fast.
In summary: Please support Coffeeco. It is the nicest coffee shop in Kingston. Don’t be lured by the branding of Starbucks. It is a tragedy when I see the Starbucks on Division packed but the Coffeeco across the street empty. Coffeeco serves better coffee and it is local!
For the student: Free internet is available at Starbucks, Coffeeco, Mug and Truffle, Coffee and Company.
Coffeeco, 2 locations, 344 Johnson St. and 1046 Princess St., www.coffeeco.ca