Tucana Coffee is a coffee shop on Dundas West from Tenille Clarke who worked at Ossington coffee shop Crafted for four years. She received her training and knowledge from Pilot roasters and quickly learned to love and appreciate good coffee.
"I've always been interested in coffee, but getting to work alongside people who consider coffee their passion was incredible, and I learned a lot about the evolution of coffee." Says Clarke about working with Pilot and Crafted.
Tucana is a small, scaled-back cafe in a non-descript location that's easy to miss if it weren't for the large pink and blue Coffee sign in the window. Inside the layout is simple and set up with two small bars and stools.
It's casual and small for a reason. Clarke wants Tucana to be a social space where people feel great about coming in for a chat, and leaving with a quality cup of coffee, not lingering for hours plugged into their laptops.
Clarke and I chat after the shop has closed for the day. She's a brand new coffee shop owner who says opening her shop has been the hardest thing she's done, but the payoff is great.
Clarke tells me she's passionate about being a woman in the coffee business. "There's a ton of women who work in the coffee industry but they're underrepresented," she says. "A lot of coffee spaces have a masculine vibe to them. This is my time to show people women make great coffee too." She says with a smile.
Clarke uses a La Marzocco espresso machine and coffee beans from Pilot. Tucana offers vegan cookies ($3) and muffins ($2.25) from Bunner's and regular muffins and cookies from Parkdale bakery, Flagship .
Clarke also offers cold brew coffee ($3.50) and is looking to make her own cold brew in the summer. Espressos are $2.15, or if you fancy something more elaborate you can get a vanilla late ($4.25), chai latte ($4.00) or a mocha ($4.25), and yes, a flat white is offered here too ($3.50).
A regular coffee is $2 and while Clarke loves the aesthetics of putting together a great espresso drink, she also really loves a regular coffee.
But it's the cortados ($3.25) - espresso made with steam milk - that everyone is after. "Cortado is the new Americano." Says Clarke with a laugh. The majority of the drinks are espresso-based, and Clarke likes to use scales when making coffee to weigh the dose of the bean and the shot and make sure the coffee is really dialed in.
It's a more involved process than people realize, says Clarke. But ultimately, you have to use coffee from a good roaster, and a good roaster knows how to source from a good farm.
It's evident that the speciality coffee trend isn't going anywhere. As more places like Tucana pop up, Clarke says people learn that coffee can taste good without sugar, and ultimately their standards become higher.
Photos by Jesse Milns