Brett Johnston Crafted Te Aro

Get to know a barista: Brett Johnston of Crafted by Te Aro

Crafted, the Ossington satellite of Leslieville coffee house Te Aro, is just finishing its morning rush when I show up to interview Brett Johnston. It's a cozy shop, so it always seems busy, and on this bright, spring-like morning it's all very Ossington — everyone looks like they own a shop nearby or have a deadline this afternoon; at a table by the window an architect is going through the floor plan of a renovation on his laptop with a client.

Brett finishes up behind the espresso machine and motions me to the back of the cafe, by the patio, which is empty but glowing with morning sun. The Black Keys are playing over the speakers.


Brett Johnston.

How long have you been a barista?

Going on four years.

Brett Johnston Crafted Te Aro

Favorite customer and why?

My favorite customers are the ones that give you a little bit. They open up and they like to kid around a bit, as well as the ones that are really interested in what you're doing, and how you might be able to make better coffee.

What's your secret for pulling the perfect shot?

My secret? I don't think there is a secret. I think it takes a lot of focus, paying attention to the parameter of pulling a shot, and just making sure it's well balanced.

Do you moonlight as a writer, actor, artist, and/or adult film actor?

[Laughs] I went to school for jazz performance, and I finished that up in the spring, so I'm a saxophone player as well as a composer.

Brett Johnston Crafted Te Aro

What's something that no one else knows about you?

I don't think I have any secrets. Most people don't know that my first name is Robert.

Favorite Toronto hideout?

Probably the Green Room.

Brett Johnston Crafted Te Aro

Best album to spin at work?

Brothers by the Black Keys.

What's the simplest way to order a complicated coffee?

Ask the barista for his suggestion.

How do you take your coffee?

The staple would be double-caps — cappucinos — but I go through a lot of cycles. I do a lot of alternate brewing methods, so I like putting coffee through aeropresses, experimenting.

Brett Johnston Crafted Te Aro


Dogs or cats? Dogs

Jay-Z or RUN-DMC? Jay-Z

Rocket or submarine? Rocket

Beards or mustaches? Both?

Rob Ford or Tim Hortons? Tim Hortons

Photos by Bruce Emberley

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