Remarkable Bean in Leslieville
Remarkable Bean in Leslieville is the brand-new sister location to the venerable Beaches cafe , which turns 21 this year. Owners (and siblings) George and Marianne Fowler are parlaying their dedicated east-end following - and years of roasting experience - into the new spot, located in the former home of Telegramme Prints .
They've chosen an already caffeine-dense neighbourhood , with Te Aro to the immediate west and Tango Palace to the east. But the Fowlers had enough regulars move to Leslieville and lament the loss of their favourite neighbourhood coffee shop that they knew there'd be a market - plus, it's just 10 minutes away from the original, making it easy for the duo to zip back and forth in the course of a day.
"We're not competing with anyone else - I think there's enough to go around for everyone, so we don't view it that way at all," George adds.
Market saturation aside, there's plenty here that should draw a loyal Leslieville following. First and foremost: The coffee, which the Fowlers roast up fresh every two days. Now that they have a second location with a roasting machine of its own, they'll be able to get roasting daily.
"We decided to start roasting our own coffee 12 or 14 years ago. You just can't control the freshness unless you do it yourself," George says. "Coffee's kind of like bread, and bread tastes best when it's freshly baked."
Over time, he explains, the flavonoids in the beans become oxidized, leading to what he percieves as a dry, "rice-y" flavour. "It's almost like a Budweiser beer - It starts to go a little bit off." (The Fowlers cop good-naturedly to being coffee snobs; Marianne brings her own Remarkable Bean roasts with her when she goes out of town, while George routinely takes a French press camping.)
George adds they use half a pound of beans to make each pot of coffee ($1.90 for a small cup to $2.52 for an XL). They always have two or three blends on the go each day, with the full roster of 10 available in bags for takeaway. All of them, Marianne notes, are fair trade organic.
Their baked goods, all made from scratch in-house, are another cult hit out in the Beaches. At the heart of each recipe: Scads and scads of butter. "I literally buy 300 to 400 pounds of butter every month. It can be a hassle to source the stuff," George says. (Apparently, there's been at least one standoff with supermarket managers who didn't want him making off with a month's worth of product.)
But all that hassle is worth it, with former Beaches residents returning to the cafe over and over again for their fix of muffins, carrot cake, cookies and gluten-free brownies. I try one of their signature snacks, a savoury muffin ($3.10) with broccoli and cheese - it's like if the filling and the crust of a quiche were melded together into one eggy, savoury whole. (And, yes, it's super, super buttery.)
That devotion is what's kept people coming back year after year. Over their 20 years in business, the Fowlers have become staunch believers in not skimping on ingredients or portions, and never letting stale or substandard stuff end up in a customer's hands.
George sums it up: "Treat them as you'd want to be treated yourself. It's a no-brainer, and people will be happy."
Photos by Matt Forsythe.