de Mello Palheta Coffee Roasters
De Mello Palheta Coffee Roasters has roots that wrap around the globe. Up until eight months ago, Korean-born brothers Felix and Won Cha had spent the majority of their lives living amidst the sandy beaches of Melbourne, Australia — a city well known as one of the world's coffee capitals. The brothers honed their roasting skills over the past eight years, working at some of the most successful cafes in the industry.
When it came time for the ambitious pair to branch out and open their own cafe, they weren't especially tied to remaining in Australia. Realizing the opportunity posed by relocating to a less coffee-saturated market, they quickly decided that Toronto, a city with a burgeoning coffee-scene, would be a great fit. What the Cha brothers have come up with at de Mello Palheto is a truly impressive cafe, with excellent coffee roasted in-house, a strong menu of baked goods and pastries and, not to be forgotten, some serious style.
The cafe is aptly named after Francisco de Melo Palheta, a Portugese coffee purveyor who was sent by the King of Portugal to French New Guinea in 1893 to obtain coffee seeds, sparking the beginning of the coffee trade in Brazil. What did I tell ya, these guys know their stuff.
Located on a stretch of Yonge near Eglinton, de Mello Palheto is something new and exciting for a neighbourhood that's heavy on corporate chain cafes. Its cozy, rustic interior is warm and inviting, coming off as a cross between your nonna's kitchen and a French patisserie.
Brewing equipment lines the shelves on either side of the narrow space. A series of beehive drips slowly course out streams of liqueur-like cold brew ($3.25) into beakers — it must be spring again! Few things get me more excited about springtime than the return of my favorite iced beverages on my morning comute. My first iced Americano of the season is always an occasion worth celebrating.
Felix walks me through their back-area where a huge turquoise roaster quietly grumbles alongside stacks of burlap bags filled with yet to be roasted green beans. It's unlike any space I've seen in the city. Other than a select few (Te Aro/Pilot and Sense Appeal, for example) few cafes in Toronto roast in-house. With the brothers' impressive breadth of coffee knowledge at practice, their blend profiles and single-origin options are spot-on.
Won pours me a shot of their custom espresso blend ($2.25), the origins of which the pair refuse to disclose. A medium roast, the shot is smooth and juicy, with a well-balanced acidity and a great aftertaste. I try it in a cappuccino ($3.25 for an 8oz) and the espresso tastes rich and chocolatey against the sweetness of the milk.
Alongside their coffee offerings, Felix and Won have put together an eye-popping menu of baked goods and desserts, ranging from almond croissants and chocolate chip muffins to the decadent Rustic Pear Frangipane Galette ($8) that they suggest I order. Laid out on a wooden platter, the dish is an intricate display of sweets: a fillo-like Frangipane, a candied baked pear, cardamom pear compote and a delicious homemade pear ice cream. I can honestly say it was like nothing I've ever been served at a cafe.
I suspect folks around Yonge and Eglinton are going to get a serious kick out of this new spot. In my half hour sitting at the bar, I witnessed more than a few excited new patrons claiming the cafe as their new go-to. Regardless of location, caffeine fiends and connoisseurs from all over the city would do well to take a trip to the neighborhood for a shot of 'spro or a classic Flat White ($3.25 for an 8oz) from this exciting new duo.
Photos by Morris Lum