Archives for category: cafes

I am so excited to bring you an interview today from the lovely and babely Liz Bishop (Liz has been previously mentioned  here and here). Liz has been making coffee for quite a few years now and fills the role of Head Barista at Just Us! on Barrington st. Liz is just about the most amazing co-worker you could ever hope for! She works hard, doesn’t ever compromise coffee quality for anything else, laughs a lot and always picks great music. Liz also has the rare talent of talking to each and every customer as if she knows them, treating everyone equally as if they are an old friend of hers. Besides being rad to work with and having off the chart customer service skills Liz is also really, really passionate about coffee. She is constantly striving to learn more and I can always expect to hear about something new and exciting relating to coffee when I talk to Liz. She is also so fitted to her role as Head Barista – always keeping us accountable and expecting better things from each of her Baristas each time we step on bar. She also really instils  passion into each Barista and customer she talks too. Besides constantly inspiring me to be better at my own job Liz is always making me super tasty drinks and I can count on drinking amazing ‘spro with her on the daily!

Miss Liz Bishop

1. Tell me about yourself. What do you like to do when you aren’t making coffee?

I like imbibing things, especially coffee. Watching movies is pretty great too, especially while enjoying some tasty bevs. I also study Social Anthropology and Film Studies at the University of King’s College/Dalhousie/NSCADU. Sometimes I knit, play music, bike around town, take pictures, or cuddle with kitties. I also like to hang out with this guy, Ira. (He’s Cool.)

2. How did you get into coffee? Do you remember your first experience with coffee?

Like most Canadians Mr Horton provided my first introduction. blah. My parents weren’t really coffee drinkers so it was all on my own. When Just Us! moved into Wolfville things exploded from there and a few years later I was working there. That was almost seven years ago and the journey has been long but stupendous! I always look forward to new chapters.

3. How long have you been involved? Where have you worked? What is your role now?

After starting with Just Us in 2005 I have been a barista, head barista, assistant manager, interim manager and now I’m back to the position of  head barista. It is my favourite because I get to do what I love and show others how to do the same. I have gained some of my best friends from working on Barrington street and I hope to gain even more.

4. Why do you enjoy being a Barista? Why do you love what you do?

Besides the free tasty bevs and awesome people?  I love to share the experience of coffee with others and my job allows exploration into exponential possibilities of sensation. Coffee is Sexy.

5. What is your favourite drink to make? What about to drink?

Love to make Caps. For myself it depends on the day but nothing beats sinking my teeth into a delicious cap or mac. After taking a trip to California [ to attend camp Pull-A-Shot ] in October I fell in love with juicy pour overs, rich aeropresses, and most recently cascara tea! I always love trying new things.

6. What are you really excited about right now?

Austin Anderson, our director of Coffee at Just Us!, and his roasting team finally have an old/new Gothot up and running. I am excited to taste the results of all their hard work and I am glad to see Just Us! moving in this great direction of craft roasting. But I’m always excited about new things in coffee that it’s hard to pinpoint.

7. Do you have any favourite coffee memories?

Anytime someone makes a capp with just the right balance and texture I shudder with delight. Every time I walk into a cafe I haven’t been to and the baristas welcome me as if I had been coming there for years is an unbeatable sensation.  A recent experience at Pourquoi Pas in Montreal instilled something within me that baristas need to open cafes and if you have the passion you can do it on a shoestring. Oh yeah, the ultimate slew of memories from Camp Pull-A-Shot cannot be topped. It was there that I realized there is so much more to learn, that coffee is more fun than you will ever know and should always be shared. Puck yeah!

8. Any exciting plans for this year? 

Mexico, baby. Just Us! provides opportunities for people to visit one of their main coffee producing co-ops called UCIRI. This will be my first origin trip of many (hopefully). I’m even learning Spanish to help out! I would love to learn more about roasting with Austin and his team down in Grand Pre.

9. Any future plans involving coffee? 

Camp Pull-A-Shot is coming to the east coast this year! I feel disconnected way out here in atlantic Canada even with the wonderful passion and talent we have here already. Building a more diverse community with better opportunities for career barsitas and coffee professionals in the Maritimes would be a dream. A caffeine bike tour of the UK, the eastern states, and parts of Europe maybe. And at some point return to Brazil, when I was there eight years ago I was ignorant about their coffee. I’d like to go back and explore with the knowledge I have now.

10. Anything else to add?

Why don’t restaurants pay more attention to their coffee? In many places I feel it is poorly done and under appreciated. Most baristas are foodies too. Just sayin’.

 Liz hanging on Barrington St.

Thank you so much Liz for doing this interview and always continuing to inspire me!

Cheers,

-Ceilidh

PS Don’t forget- you could win a bag of coffee! Just check out my last post and leave a comment!

It’s Labour Day which kind of means that summer is over!?
Thankfully, In the past month I feel like Dan and I crammed a lot of summer in!
We went to two weddings, visited my home town, visited Nelson BC and also Toronto- where Dan is from.
We spent a lot of time on the beach, in the sun, preparing yards for weddings, drinking and eating a lot, and  spending time with our family!

I also had a couple coffee  experiences too!
Unfortunatly in Toronto we only had the chance to visit 1 coffee shop- I know, it’s silly but thats just how it worked out this time, but I did get to share a lot of coffee with both mine and Dan’s family’s which was deffinatly a highlight of my trip.
In Nelson at my brothers house we would make about 6 press pots of coffee each morning- Yep, 6! There were a lot of us around to drink it and it seemed like each time someone woke up and made it to
the kitchen the kettle would go on the stove and the coffee would be ground. As usual this topped my list of favourite things to do in the morning.

In Toronto while visiting Dan’s family we also drank some pretty deliscious coffee. Dan’s dad, Joe,  was making us stove-top espresso lattes with hand frothed milk.
I know it isn’t the same as having an espresso drink made by a barista but having someone make you a great cup of coffee that you can enjoy at home, in the back yard with friends in the sun and not be paying anything for it is great. It is it’s own separate category compared to seeking out the best of the best espresso in cafes. And I love it! Drinking these lattes was one of my favourite parts of visiting Dan’s family!

Joe's Home-made Latte

As I said before- the only cafe that Dan and I made it into while we were in Toronto was Dark Horse on Spadina Ave.
It was actually a great experience. First of all- it was beautiful in there. Second the baristi were listening to Cat Stevens- which is one of my favourite artists to listen to while I’m at work makin’ coffee. Third the two Baristi working were SO NICE- It was awesome and it is such an important part of the experience. They gave us a good deal on the drinks we ordered,  they were talkative and just genuinely NICE. If anyone who works for Dark Horse reads this, Cheers on finding awesome employees!!! I ordered a single macchiato and a single espresso and Dan ordered a double macchiato. They were pretty delicious, nothing out of this world, but good. Worth checking out! The food also looked amazing but we didn’t try anything as we were saving room for dinner (The Black Hoof Cocktail bar and Pizzeria Libretto!).

Dan at Dark Horse

Now that I am back in Halifax and summer is slowing down I plan to be around this blog a bit more often.
Cheers for now!

-Ceilidh

I decided to stop in at The Smiling Goat Espresso Bar today while my laundry was going through the wash at the Laundromat.
It was a beautiful sunny day today and sitting in the window at the Smiling Goat seemed like an awesome thing to do while I waited the 25 minutes for my laundry.

I love the menu at Smiling goat, today I grabbed a photo of it so you can see it in all of its glory.

The Menu.

It’s so comprehensive and I love the featured drink section.
I was going to order a single Macchiato but upon seeing that the featured espresso I wanted to try was only pulled in double shots I decided to get a single Macchiato and a single espresso (this may be my new favourite thing to order). I tried the Ethiopia Ardi Natural which is a single origin that is provided to the Smiling Goat by Java Blend. It was great, a nice looking shot and an even nicer looking macchiato. I found the espresso to be a little to citrusy for my taste ( I find that a citrus flavour can really overwhelm the rest of the taste for me, I have never liked very citrusy coffee- from my first cup of Yirgacheffe, which I tried in my very first cupping, onward!). I really loved the Macc though, Smiling Goat always uses organic milk in there drinks and I personally think you can really taste a difference, I wish more shops around here had this option, it just tastes more whole and delicious to me!

Yummy Macchiato and Espresso in the sun.

I also grabbed a bag of the classic Intelligentsia Black Cat in an 8Oz bag- which I have decided is the cutest bag of coffee ever. So small and adorable.I am excited to try it at home! And to top it all off I had a really nice chat with the Barista at the Smiling Goat this afternoon, Hi Justin!

The little bag of Black Cat.

Last night I helped out with some training at Just Us! with my co-worker (and Barista extraordinaire) Liz. We got to sample some of the new single origin coffees that will be available at Just Us! in the upcoming weeks on both the siphon and the AeroPress. Then we watched this amazing video.

Cheers!

-Ceilidh

Four days of our recent vacation were spent in the lovely Vancouver, BC, with Dan’s brother  Nick and his partner Cristina- I was nervous to spend time in such a big city (Halifax is small!) but turns out, I actually kinda loved it (it also helps that Nick and Cristina are rad!). I had a huge list of coffee shops I wanted to visit that I had compiled with lots of help from my friend Marc, I didn’t make it to them all but here is a list of the places I did make it to and what I thought about them.

Day One:

Caffe Artigiano–  This place was a little weird for my taste- it seemed super fancy but commercial. They had a huge menu of drinks that I had never heard of on top of your standards. The cashier gal was a little snarky but it was a busy spot and that’s what happens when you are on cash sometimes. The Barista defiantly knew what was up and made us 3 beautiful macchiatos (one for me, Dan and Nick). It says on the website that the baristas here are ‘…award winning baristas specialize in coffee art, creating a unique rosetta, tulip or heart atop of each cappuccino and latte served…’. They had some interesting info posted near the espresso machine about how the machine is specially designed for Vancouver and the water there (or something… I actually can’t remember but at the time it was interesting and now I can’t find anything on the website about this!!!), or they used special water that they brought from somewhere else?! Who knows! The espresso tasted very, very citrusy- The most citrus tasting coffee I have ever had. I didn’t love it but I am glad I got stop in and try it as it was unlike any espresso I had ever tasted!

Day Two:

Kafka’s– I had heard great things about Kafka’s before going here and it did not disappoint- I had the best cappuccino ever here!! I loved it there and I am really sad we didn’t go back again as we had planned on. I truly recommend this place- The baristi were friendly and were eager to talk about coffee when I told them I was visiting from NS. It turned out the Barista who had made our drinks is from Cape Breton! Nice looking place, awesome espresso, they do pour overs and siphons, have a super simple menu and yummy baked goods, locally made art on the walls and Baristi who clearly love what they do. They also specialize in tea! What more could you want???

Day Three:

Elysian Coffee– Elysian, Elysian… You stole my heart. I loved this spot. First- it is small and intimate, which is always great. We went here on a nice sunny day (only the second day I had worn short sleeves outside so far this spring) and we sat on the patio and  sipped our Cappuccinos. The Baristas here were really sweet and they were all super babely and dressed oh-so-well which is always a bonus. The guy who made my drink actually happened to be from NS too! Awesome! And they new of a few of the coffee shops in Halifax (Just Us! and TIBS). He also remade my drink because he wasn’t satisfied with (I think) his art on the first one, which is great.  They serve Intelligentsia here and have sparkling water on tap! AMAZING. Seriously- Amazing. I now dream of having this in my own cafe one day. I was also sad I didn’t make it back here again but, a girl can only drink so much coffee! They also used a Synesso espresso machine which I have  a big place for in my heart… they are a dream to work on.

Bump & Grind– We had the best Macchiatos here. The experience wasn’t as memorable as Elysian (the sun! the cute people!) or Kafkas (the massive tables! The guy working on his art in the corner!) but my Macchiato was seriously good. The guy working got what he was doing  and was very calm and quiet in a really nice sort of way. I also picked up a copy of 33 Cups Of  Coffee here which I am pretty excited about (but have yet to use it!!!). The also had a perfect bar to stand up and enjoy your drinks at… I thought it was a nice addition for those who are having something like an espresso and are not going to sit down. I will defiantly be going back here next time I am in Van.

Day Four:

JJ Bean– I was pretty stoked to try out JJ Bean, I had tried a few of there coffees before (some one I work with had brought some back from Van a few months ago) and was pretty struck by it. Dan and I both ordered Cappuccinos (surprise, surprise!) which were made pretty effciantly considering how busy it was in there. I loved the aesthetic here (it was the commercial and E 6th Ave. location) lots of wood and open space, great windows and a cute looking patio. We also grabbed a bag of single origin coffee (The Boquete Classico from Chiriqui, Panama. Tasting Notes- Creamy, Sweet, Concord grape & Almond). You get a free espresso when you buy a bag of coffee so that was a nice bonus (we are JUST getting around to drinking this coffee now… I’ll let you know how it is!) All in all JJ did not dissapoint and had everything it takes to make a cafe awesome. The staff were great too!

Prado– I think I could have loved Prado…. The interior was beautiful, white walls, wood, metal, a black bathroom (what IS it with black bathrooms these days…. Elysian had black bathrooms too, and a few other places we ate at while we were on the west coast. Anyways, I love this trend!), huge windows, babely baristas, a white espresso machine that was a beaut! But, the service kinda got me… the girls working there just weren’t that nice. I forgot to tip so after my drink  (macchiato) I went back up to tip and I wasn’t acknowledged at all by either of the girls who were standing right in front of me…. There was no line up, nothing, they were just talking. Maybe I am too sensitive but customer service is so important to me and can make or break my experience. After that I didn’t even bother looking to see what kind of beans they used….. Sorry Prado! Our drinks were totally good and I clearly liked the ambiance, Plus there was a really cute dog waiting for it’s owner outside… I would give it a try again in hopes that I would receive better customer service!

Our coffee experience in Vancouver was GREAT…. It has really inspired me in so many ways and opened my eyes up a lot to what some of the best cafes are up too. The coffee culture out here on the East coast is just starting to take off it seems and I am so excited to see where it is going to go!

Cheers,

-Ceilidh

Hello, hello!! I am back, I am back!!!

I must apologize for the long absence I have left you all with.
A few things have been happening lately… the first was that I went on vacation for two whole weeks with Dan. We went to the west coast and visited my brother and his partner in Nelson, BC and got to witness the birth of our newest nephew. Then we  went and spent some time in Vancouver visiting Dan’s brother and his partner. All my favourite things happened on this trip; We ate a lot of good food, found great coffee in both Nelson and Van, drank lots of wine, spent time with family and dear friends who are like family, I bought a pair of awesome shoes (that are kind of killing my feet….), and got to experience a lot of love upon meeting the newest addition to our fam (I am a big fan of love)!
But, we forgot to bring our camera battery changer with us and got about 1 photo of our whole trip. It’s pretty sad actually. I did get my amazing friend Marnie to snap some photos of my new fave coffee spot in Nelson which I will be featuring on here later today…. And we also brought back lots of coffee to drink!!!! Below is some post trip photo proof ( I also decided it’s time to show my face on here)!

JJ Bean, Oso Negro, Intelligentsia!

The other exciting thing that happened recently, in my work life, is that I got a promotion! I moved to the Barrington location of Just Us! and I am the Assistant Team Lead, which has been great so far and is keeping me busy!

So here I am, back and with lots of posts up my sleeves, and I am feeling more and more inspired everyday! We are having a barista jam tonight at Just us! and I promise to remember to take my camera and snap some photos to share!

Cheers,
-Ceilidh

PS One other awesome thing that happened on our trip- we converted Dan’s bro to be a macchiato drinker!!!!!!

Dan and I decided to go check out The Trident (1256 Hollis St) this past week, which is a cafe, bookstore and they roast their own beans! We ordered double capps, which in my opinion were too large to be a cappuccino. But I like ordering and just seeing what I get, they tasted great but I powered though mine, probably just because of the milk content. I find the milkier a drink, the less you can really taste the espresso the faster you are going to drink it and not savour the tastes as much (as there isn’t as much too taste!). There is something much more romantic about just enjoying this small cup of espresso and perfectly steamed milk. All in all though The Trident is fine and what better to do with your afternoon than drink coffee and browse a great supply of books!? Dan and I both left with a book under our arms.

While there I also realized…. “Wow I need to be taking photos of the people who are making my coffee since this blog is about/for them!”, So I did!

The Trident Barista

This guys name is Shakeel and He was shy to get his photo taken, but I was shy to ask to take it, but I convinced him. He was super stylish and said he really likes his job a lot. He told me to come back and take photos of the gals who work there- he told me they are super babely!  I think deep down inside people are, for the most part, flattered to get their photos taken!! And it is a good little challenge for me to talk to strangers!

Right now The Trident roasts 8 differant coffee blends that you can buy in store, I forgot to grab a bag when I was there but I will grab one sometime soon and let you know how it is, they also carry 56 types of tea!!!

Cheers,

-Ceilidh

PS The title of this post, The Senseless Pursuit of Excellence, is the ‘moto’ of the Trident, that you can see in the front window on stained glass.

The reno’s are finally (almost) finished at Just Us!. It has defiantly been a stressful few days… weeks even!  Today was our first day working in the new space and it was really quite disorienting. We did the best we could!

We do have some really great new equipment though. Mainly the Simonelli Aurelia espresso machine. We received 3 (THREE!!!!!) , 3 group head machines for our cafe. We have 2 upstairs and one in our training space in the basement. They are beauts! You can see them here. I only pulled a few shots on the Aurelia today and made a few drinks but it was amazing. We have been in a state of turbulence with our espresso machines ( they just kept falling apart!!!!! ) for literally months so this new equipment is so welcome- and we will all be treating this new stuff with a lot of respect.

I am also really excited that our new espresso machine came with a blind (or naked) portafilter. Which looks like this:

As well as your standard normal portafilter. Which looks like this:

 

I got really excited about having the option to use either portafilter…. There is just something so much more beautiful about the naked portafilter. If you ever notice a Barista using one ask if you can watch your shot pour!!!! Magic!!! Or- If you haven’t had the chance to use one- find one and be mesmerized! Also- check out the flicker where the above to photos came from for some more awesome coffee related shots!!

I can’t wait to get back into the swing of things at work and make some kick ass espresso for everyone!!!!

Cheers,

-Ceilidh

Mmm!

A couple nights ago I had to go back to work at Just Us! from 9 until late to prepare the store for the final reno’s (which are happening right now!). I normally don’t drink coffee at night unless I’ve just ate a really big meal or at a restaurant or something but Dan had tried the Phil & Sebastian that morning and told me I had to try it. Since I was going to be up late anyways it seemed like a good idea to indulge. So we decided to make some home-style cappuccinos using a stove top espresso maker and a manual milk frother. Anyways- they turned out so delicious. The coffee is truly wonderful with a lot of good things going on….. I am defiantly not the best person to describe the taste but will try to work out some kind of description and let you know!

Such a cute little mug!

Dan and I have a really great selection of hand made mugs which makes drinking anything better. You can see a couple of our favourites in these photos! These two were both made locally and are really, really beautiful.

Dan!

 

Dan and I also had the chance to hit up Two if By Sea early Saturday morning when we were on our way out of Halifax for the night. We finally got to try some of there other croissants – other than the plain one. We grabbed a chocolate and an almond and we both enjoyed them a lot more than the plain one! They were a pretty yummy and decadent treat.

We have been having very good coffee times lately!!!

Cheers,

-Ceilidh

Dan (My Husband) and I took a little trip over to Dartmouth yesterday to hit up Two If By Sea. Dan had never been there before so it was time! Dan has been converted to drinking capps and machiatos exclusively now when we go out for coffee ( I am so proud of him!) and he is on coffee detail pretty much every morning at our place. He also has a awesome pallet due in part to him being an aspiring cook (Going to culinary school and working as a cook AND doing most of the cooking at home!), and can pick out a good shot of espresso vs. a bad shot of espresso and also just knows what he LIKES his coffee to taste like. So, I was curious to get his opinion on the coffee, food and ambiance at Two If By Sea. Dan really loved it. And we both loved our capps and we both love how it feels in there. I won’t lie though- I am not a fan of the croissants! They are just not for me- BUT I am not here to critique. This is just mine ( and Dans…) personal opinion. Anyways we had a great day, my Birthday was on Sunday so we just kept on celebrating – right on into Monday. It was super cold and brisk out so the cafe wasn’t very full- which is nice. One of my favourite things to do is go and get a coffee with Dan.

I also grabbed a bag of Phil & Sebastian Coffee I have yet to try but I am quite excited based on the packaging( I am a sucker for good packaging!) and a brief read of their website. We still have some 49th Parallel on the go that we have been enjoying every morning- It is the Organic Espresso and it has a mild taste when brewed with a french press, I enjoy it but it didn’t strike me as incredible right off the bat, I think I will try both in the siphon this week or stove top espresso and see how that tastes!

Also- The cafe I work at, Just Us! is undergoing a major expansion next week! We are getting incredible new equipment too! And the walls will be painted! And we will have a new counter! It is all very exciting and a long time coming! I will be sure to update you with all the beautiful details as soon as I can!!!

Cheers,

-Ceilidh

Steve-O's-Capp-O

Went to grab a capp last night with one of my co-workers Anna. Steves is one of my favourite cafes based on atmosphere- plus the staff are great.

I always order a double cappuccino in a small cup (I believe it is an 8 Oz cup), as their double cappuccino is normally served in a larger cup and is way too milky for me. We also both had a chocolate chip cookie which were Devine!

They serve 49th Parallel coffee  which is a roaster located in Vancouver, BC. I have heard their coffee described as the best in Canada. You can find out more about them at http://www.49thparallelcoffeeroasters.com. One of the things I find most amazing about them is that they claim to pay a ‘special premium that is above the Fair Trade price standard’, something that is very important to me when choosing a coffee to drink.

I am just about to run out of my current bag of Just Us! coffee beans and I think I will hit up a bag of 49th Parallel and tell you what I think of it brewed at home as I have only ever tried in an espresso based drink.

Cheers,

-Ceilidh