Full of Beans
Full of Beans Coffee House and Roastery has a product to sell: coffee. Yes, most coffee houses sell coffee. But, few houses love and consequently endorse their product like owner Lori Nytko.
For seven years Nytko worked passionately at The Coffee Tree on Bloor and Jane learning the roasting ropes. When friends and family suggested she open her own cafe, she agreed on the terms that she would only start a business if she had the perfect roaster on-site.
Three months of Googling, Craigslisting and eBaying later, the coffee connoisseur bought her java dream machine: Jabez Burns & Sons sample batch roaster. Now, with her holy grail (so to speak) stationed proudly in her Dundas West storefront, Nytko is roasting ten blends of beans daily for the benefit of Toronto's average coffee addict.
If you meander into Full of Beans while Nytko is roasting, the first thing you'll notice is the pungent aroma of caramelizing beans. The second will be the subdued atmosphere evoked by the exposed brick, rich colour tones and vintage furniture. And, if you're smart, the third will be the taste of the coffee you buy.
For myself, I order the Brazilian (sm $1.90, md $2.25, lg $2.80), a bold and fragrant roast that smells like nuts but tastes like chocolate. It has a clean finish and would make a great iced-coffee in warmer weather. My friend Jonathan chooses a mild-medium bodied Bolivian that he swoons over.
Nytko roasts two regular and one decaf blend to feature daily but she's always equipped with unground portions of all of her roasts to sell for home use ($16 - $19 per pound). Nytko loves, and encourages others, to combine her roasts with each other and create new blends. For example, she boasts having recently created Arabica magic by combining her favourite, Ethiopian, with her Tanzanian. Its hard to resist instantly making similar mental matches. For example, combining a bright Latin American with a clean, citrusy African would be delightful on my palette.
Full of Beans isn't just coffee, however. Using her signature espresso roast, Nytko prepares a list of specialty drinks as well, including cappuccinos (sm $3, md $3.50, lg $4), lattes (sm $3, md $3.50, lg $4) and cocoa lattes (sm $3.75, md $4.15, lg $4.75) with no extra charge for specialty milks. The cafe sells teas from David's Tea ($2.75) and a selection of fresh baked treats such as tea-scented biscotti ($1.90), mini loaves ($2) and muffins ($1.15) courtesy of Nytko's grandmother. The cafe also has free WiFi.
After finishing my cup of coffee, I decide to sample her espresso. Pulled into a tin tea cup that may as well have been from Marie Antoinette's personal collection, the single shot is nutty, aromatic and incredibly smooth with a hefty crown of crema. To accompany my espresso, I buy one of Grandma's blueberry muffins and I can instantly vouch that although she probably wouldn't win Top Chef: Just Desserts, she does make a kick-ass muffin. Jonathan settles on the biscotti and informs me it's delicious.
This may sound juvenile, but let me be the first to spill the beans about Full of Beans; although the cafe is still being furnished and Nytko is busy knotting the final strings to what has been a drawn-out launch, the cafe has a few quality brews that will no doubt help it thrive on the Dundas West coffee map.
Writing by Carl Hiehn. Photos by Dennis Marciniak.