A Proper Cup: Pilot Coffee Roasters’ Tasting Bar

If you don’t think you’ve tried Pilot coffee, you’re probably wrong. These Toronto-based roasters not only run two of their own Cafes in town (Te Aro, Crafted), they also supply upwards of 50 more caffeine havens across Canada with their delicious beans. But it’s the brand new tasting bar (50 Wagstaff Drive) they’ve just opened up at the front of their roastery that has us most excited. 

Despite this country’s penchant for double-doubles, there are a lot of people out there who care more about the taste of their java than that they can roll up a rim to win. And Pilot’s new tasting bar is where those people should go. In fact, it’s where any coffee lover of any kind should go. 

The open and airy space has a welcoming vibe. Huge, industrial size bags of coffee line shelves, the smell of roasting beans wafts forward from the back of the room, and employees prepare boxes of coffee to be shipped out to different corners of the country. For those of us looking for a caffeine kick in a smaller portion, however, this is all a backdrop for the sleek and modern Scandinavian-style tasting bar. 

Horseshoe shaped, the bar is as open as any you’ll find in the city. This is about being involved with both the coffee and the barista. From the minute you sit down and are handed a restaurant-style menu, you’ll be able to witness every step that happens between your order and your first sip. There’s no going to wait for your order while you skim Instagram for the thousandth time that day – this kind of coffee experience is one that makes you want to engage. 

Don’t expect any of this to look like what you’re used to though. The Modbar, for instance, looks like an espresso machine straight out of 2001: A Space Odyssey (but thankfully one that listens). Its controls are hidden below the bar so you can look your barista in the eye, and you can watch your cup get its fill right in front of you. Of course, espresso isn’t the only reason to hit this tasting bar. The menu also features a rotating selection of fine coffee available through immersion techniques including both Chemex and pour over options. And lucky for us, our barista tells us that the Ethiopian Kilenso (tasting notes: strawberry jam, creamy body, intensely sweet) currently on the menu is one of his top 10 all-time favourites.  

The tasting experience doesn’t just end at the bar, however. Pilot has also built a brand new tasting room where they test quality control on a weekly basis under the guidance of their certified Q Grader (think: coffee sommelier), and offer training classes for up and coming baristas or amateurs looking to learn how to pull the perfect shot. It’s like a Cafe inside a Cafe inside a roastery. Coffee just got meta. 

So whether you wake up dreaming of beans or you just think you might like to learn a thing or two about this coffee drink everyone’s always talking about, we’d say the Pilot tasting bar is a must-visit. But just like every other bar in this city, make sure to limit yourself – the world doesn’t need to see you nine cups deep in anything.    

#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)

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