Here we go.

on the wireless front:
I have covered both outlets along the Coffeehouse's south wall (longest wall). There are more outlets along the east and west walls and one can plug in while sitting at the bar. Please, gravitate toward the communal tables if using your computer.

on the beverage front:
Small batch production of our chai concentrate has returned! The award winning "Cha cha chai" Masala blend from Serendipitea (available loose) along with fresh ingredients and careful preparation makes for a vibrant, aromatic, spicy cup. With the right amount of dairy or substitute (I usually go for the added nuttiness soy milk provides) this makes a wonderful chai latte.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Thank you much!

(That's Coleus blumei and Rex Begonia in the window box)


a new tea addition

We are happy to offer a new tea choice to you-- rooibos. This tea is made from the "red bush" plant, and hails from South Africa. It is best known for being caffeine-free, having high levels of antioxidants, and a sweet, vanilla-like flavor. It is a reddish brown hue and delicious either plain or with a little honey or sugar. It is not traditionally served with milk, but I think the addition of steamed soy milk (a "rooi soy latte"-- you heard it here first!) makes a very fine, slightly sweet and nutty drink.


Review: Dark Horse Espresso, Toronto

Background: Located in Toronto's diverse Chinatown neighborhood, Dark Horse Espresso is one of two locations of this popular native-Toronto indie coffee bar known for its communal seating, one-size-only beverages, and top-notch latte art. Smart options include standing and sipping espresso by the counter, sitting at one of two large communal tables (laptop central) at the front of the store, or resting in comfy chairs with low tables in the upper "lounge" area.

Flavor: I stayed right across the street (a joyous coincidence) and went straight there every morning I was in town. I sampled the plain espresso, cappuccino, and the Canadian version (if there is one) of the London Fog-- which uses Earl Grey, milk, and vanilla syrup. The espresso was rich on the tongue and more floral and sweet than the citrus/toast flavors I'm used to with our shop. Combined with milk in the cappuccino, it was smooth and very aromatic. The Earl Grey tea in the London fog was also very fragrant and floral, with just a hint of bergamot.

Source: The coffee comes from 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters, located in British Columbia. According to their website, they have a "direct relationship program" with their coffee farmers. In addition, each farm's name, producer, size, and landscape details are listed. The tea is provided by David's Tea, a fairly new company with locations in Toronto, Quebec, and Vancouver, whose motto is "Premium tea for all".

Rating: A true test to a barista's skill isn't latte art, it's the temperature and texture of the milk. One should not have to blow repeatedly over a drink before sipping, nor should the cup be too hot to hold in your hand. And if you can't get a nice full sip of milk froth and espresso all over your tongue without burning it, then why drink it at all? You might as well just order a cup of boiling water. Every time I got a cappuccino at Dark Horse, it was the perfect temperature and texture. And I'm not sure what's in the food that those Canadian cows are eating, but the milk also had a grassy, sweet flavor that surely would have been killed by overheating (or the addition of sugar). Cheers to Dark Horse Espresso!


Wireless options

Since I just posted something regarding an interruption of wireless service this weekend, I want to get your thoughts regarding our current policy.
We get so many comments and complaints every day from other non-laptop users - customers who have been visiting this space for 10+ years - about how computers take up most of our tables throughout the day. Of course, it is unquestionable that computers have become ubiquitous inside most coffeehouses. In fact, I believe that they have become inseparable and that in order for a business like ours to be viable and attract customers, this service has to be provided.
So, my question is this: is it possible to create a good balance between our different demographics? What makes this space so amazing and great and comfortable is the fact that there is much history, a strong community, and the people who come here are usually aware, participating, and in dialogue with a larger world outside of these walls and this city. It's a shame that some folks feel that they are being pushed out by a new technology - one, that, honestly, I'm still coming to terms with myself. I understand that this sentiment is partly derived from a slight fear of the new and perhaps a manifestation of an increasing generational gap, but, nonetheless, it is a valid concern that creates conflict, worry, much argument and division. I must also note that many laptop users - writers, students, those working from "home"- here are aware of our spatial (and economic) limitations and try their best to share tables and purchase something every hour or so.
I guess the spectrum of possibilities range from not offering wireless at all, limiting it to certain times of the day or days of the week, limiting it to certain tables, charging an hourly fee (!), plugging up all the electrical outlets and have people rely on their batteries, to not changing anything at all. I don't want you - laptop users - to feel that we are waging a war against you, but want you to understand this ongoing concern of ours and that we want you to be part of shaping our new policy in this ever-changing landscape and environment. If you'd rather not comment on the blog, you can always reach me at javier@moderntimescoffeehouse.com

a recent NPR story on the subject

CNN on tech etiquette (from 2005)

Lastly, a poem from A Brief Description of the Excellent Vertues of that Sober and wholesome Drink, called Coffee, and its Incomparable Effects in Preventing or Curing Most Diseases incident to Humane Bodies (London: Paul Greenwod, 1674):

The RULES and ORDERS of the Coffee-House
Enter Sirs freely, But first if you please,
Peruse our Civil-Orders, which are these.
First, Gentry, Tradesmen, all are welcome hither,
And may without Affront sit down Together:
Pre-eminence of Place, none here should Mind,
But take the next fit Seat that he can find:
Nor need any, if Finer Persons come,
Rise up for to assigne to them his Room;
To limit mens expence, we think not fair,
But let him forfeit Twelve-pence that shall Swear:
He that shall any Quarrel here begin,
Shall give each Man a Dish t’Atone the Sin;
And so shall He, whose Complements extend
So far to drink in COFFEE to his friend;
Let Noise of loud Disputes be quite forborn,
No Maudlin Lovers here in Corners Mourn,
But all be Brisk, and Talk, but not too much
On Sacred things, Let none Presume to touch,
Nor profane Scripture, or sawcily wrong
Affairs of State with an Irreverent Tongue:
Let Mirth be Innocent, and each Man see,
That all his Jests without Reflection be;
To keep the House more Quiet, and from Blame,
We Banish hence Cards, Dice, and every game:
Nor can allow of Wagers, that Exceed
Five shillings, which oft-times much Trouble Breed;
Let all that’s lost, or forfeited, be spent
In such Good Liquour as the House does vent,
And Customers endeavour to their Powers,
For to observe still seasonable Howers.
Lastly let each Man what he calls for Pay,
And so you’re welcome to come every day.

No Wireless during the member sale

Due to increased traffic through our space and as per bookstore's management request, there will be no wireless internet service provided during the holiday member sale this weekend. Thank you for helping us accommodate our varied clientele.