The Toronto Craft Coffee Tour gives coffee enthusiasts a self-guided curated tour, including specialty drinks and a chance to experience the vast and growing coffee scene in Toronto.
BY ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Photos courtesy of the Toronto Craft Coffee Tour
Knowing where to go for coffee in a new city can be daunting. How do you separate the places serving specialty coffee from those serving hours-old coffee through a simple web search? Suneal Pabari, co-founder of The Roasters Pack, answers this question with the Toronto Craft Coffee Tour, a self-guided tour and booklet that leads coffee seekers through the city, sampling some of the best coffees along the way.
The tour isn’t just meant for tourists and newbies to the city—it’s designed to introduce anyone to the Toronto specialty-coffee scene. “The city of Toronto is still quite unaware of specialty coffee. There are some budding communities, but I think the average ‘foodie’ still doesn’t know about third-wave or specialty coffee,” Suneal shares. As a co-founder of The Roasters Pack, a coffee subscription service, Suneal and his team focus on providing detailed information with all their coffee packages. “We feel that there’s so much interesting going on with each roaster and each coffee; however, that information rarely gets passed onto the consumer—so we try and pass that story along with the coffee,” he shares.
Suneal designed the Toronto Craft Coffee Tour to highlight folks in the area making great coffee. “There are some shops in the city that are doing an amazing job and really putting the effort into their craft, yet they never received the admiration and appreciation they deserved,” he says, nothing that many shops receive much more attention for their design than anything else. “When I would see local media talk about coffee, it felt like brand reputation and shop aesthetics were taking priority rather than the actual quality of the product,” he adds.
The tour is meant to be self-guided: Once you sign up, you receive a coffee booklet of different spots to visit throughout the city, with specific drinks picked at each location for you to enjoy. By providing curated drinks, the booklets can also give tour users specific information about what they’re drinking and what makes it unique. “When my sister comes over, I’m able to make her a pourover … talk through the taste characteristics, talk about how the brew method or processing impacts the flavor,” Suneal says. “When you go to a specialty-coffee shop, that sometimes isn’t there. The cup may hold this amazing backstory, but that doesn’t always get passed onto the customer.” The accompanying booklet is meant to bridge the gap between product and information for new coffee drinkers.
Attendees of the tour are taken to about a dozen different spots throughout Toronto—the first stop is barista favorite Propeller Coffee in the heart of the city, where tour-goers are given a single-origin pourover. “We really wanted to include all aspects of coffee—we have pourovers and milk-based drinks, but we’re even featuring tasting flights with cascara tea or coffee cuppings or specialty/signature type drinks,” Suneal notes. “It’s a true tasting experience for someone who’s not familiar with specialty coffee.”
The tour isn’t just a guide made by Suneal and his team—it also includes audio guides from the actual owners, operators, and baristas featured on the tour. “On eight of the stops, we have an audio guide that’ll walk the customer through the drink on the stop. It allows the shop to get their education and story across—what they can’t do on a busy day,” Suneal notes. The tour gives coffee shops a chance to share their story and connect with customers in a way that isn’t always possible during a busy service. “With the audio guides, the consumer can pop in headphones and it’s just as great of an experience as a personal tour guide and conversation with the shop owner,” Suneal adds.
To check out the tour, visit the Toronto Craft Coffee Tour website to get the booklet and start experiencing coffee in Toronto!