Thor Espresso Bar
Thor Espresso Bar pulled its inaugural shot for the public last Wednesday after a three-month-long construction delay. Rather than twiddle their anxious fingers, co-owners Patrick Tu and Tom Junek used the time to master their Slayer, a nifty espresso machine tweeted by Thor as the coolest espresso machine on the planet.
In brief, the machine has a a paddle that adjusts the water pressure from one to nine during an espresso pull. While most machines pull level nine throughout, the Slayer allows a barista to moisten the grinds allowing the beans to release more oils before pulling at the highest pressure. The result is an evidently more fragrant, robust shot.
"This specific machine is the 77th of its kind in the world," says Tu, "and the only one in Toronto."
To acquaint myself with what the Slayer has to offer, I order a single shot of Thor's house espresso ($2.25 per shot); a bright, clean and extremely aromatic shot. Although it didn't have the thick layer of crema I desire, the flavour is undeniable. But not all of the praise can be attributed to the machine as Thor's beans are an exceptional product on their own thanks to Richmond Hill-based roastery, Social Coffee and Tea Co. To appease Toronto's espresso mavens, Thor offers a changing featured single-origin espresso roast -- currently, Esmeralda Special Geisha ($4 per shot).
Next, I order a latte. Like the shot, the latte is an exceptional beverage with a beautiful Rosetta design poured into the thick layer of micro-foam ($3.75). Currently, there's no charge for specialty milks, however, if the cafe begins ordering organic soy milk there may be a $.25-$.50 cent charge says Junek.
If the Slayer or the beans don't draw customers, Thor's Scandinavian-inspired cafe will. Thor embraces its modest cafe space by keeping the lobby open with floor-to-ceiling windows, bright lighting, white walls and a few Finnish chairs and stools. There is a funky light fixture by Dennis Lin, a reclaimed 18th century wood bar by SMASH and a huge brick mural of the thunder Deity himself by OCAD alumni Afo Grigoriev. Not to mention, a number of quirky bits and bobs are hidden around the cafe for patrons to discover for themselves.
Also of interest is Thor's collaboration with blogger The Ambitious C to create a daily playlist for the cafe that will be available on Thor's website. The cafe will host monthly cupping events. It has free WiFi and in warmer weather there is a Niagara St. patio.
Photos by Dennis Marciniak