There is a feeling of optimism inside The Communal Mule, and it's contagious. Peter Primiani, new owner and staff of one, has just finished telling us that business at his new dundas west espresso bar had been "pretty good - I can't complain" when scores of people begin to pour in and out. Pretty good indeed. The recession's got nothing on new endeavors in this town ( especially on Dundas , it would seem).
Alyssa, Johnnie (whose stomach can't handle coffee) and I hit up Peter's new establishment on Wednesday after a sandwich and poutine. (It was Caplansky's one-year anniversary ; they were selling three-buck pints!) The Communal Mule is a sunny place with vintage movie posters on the walls and a killer beat. Before taking up in the espresso business, Peter was one half of the DJ duo Peter and Tyrone, evidence of which can be found in the turntable set-up and steady tunes coming from his laptop in the corner.
The main deal at the CM is the coffee. Peter's wants to know if I've tried Intelligentsia or 49th parallel coffee before. I tell him I've not, and the look on his face tells me I'm about to be enlightened. He crafts a couple of Americanos ($2.50) for Alyssa and I, and they're beautiful. Even Johnnie is impressed. "Those look rich," he says. "How are they so glossy?" The crema is thick (and glossy) and it all goes down dark and intense with a smooth aftertaste. Johnnie's chai latte ($3.75) is sweet and refreshing and sits well in his stomach. The chai is organic, as is the milk. Harmony comes to our table in a glass bottle (the one with the affectionate cows on it) for the coffee and my companions eye it, greedily. I know they want to chug the whole thing but Alyssa makes do with an appropriate splash.
The cookies, muffins and scones come courtesy of Circles and Squares, the elusive baking entity supplying (what seems like) all the new cafes these days. I had a (raisin-free) butter tart, so rich and sweet with amazing crust. Alyssa chose a pumpkin muffin. It was light and fresh and she keeps talking about it. "Mmm remember that pumpkin muffin?" Peter is considering expanding the menu to include more pastries or lunch items, but cautiously. He doesn't want to take attention away from the coffee.
We sat around one of the huge wooden tables for some time, flipping though Peter's collection of art magazines ("you gotta take a look at
") and listening to Alyssa talk about her latest career move. Caffeinated, she talks fast and loud. "It's this coffee," she says. "With this music, I'm getting all euphoric." I look at Peter in his successful new espresso joint and feel pretty optimistic myself.
Photos by Alyssa Bistonath