It’s a daunting task when you driving down Queen East from downtown at 7:30 am looking for a place to grab a coffee and maybe a bite. The classic hot spots such as Lady Marmalade, Bonjour Brioche and Tulip are still waking up so the liquid remedy of coffee with the possibility of a pastry may be all that exists.
I progressed down the empty street, sun in my eyes and saw a Starbucks on the right and parked, ready to succumb to over roasted coffee and a generic breakfast sandwich. Instead, I spied the Mercury Espresso bar, which has a relative smallness of the planet itself. I walked into a small line, staring down as I flipped the plastic between my fingers, almost convincing myself this was a cash only joint and I would have to cross the street or find a high service ATM in the vicinity. I let the question “Do you take credit?” squeak out of my mouth. The answer was a resounding yes…minus AMEX of course. With that, I ordered an americano. He did have a shade of baristattitude, but he kept it in the realm of confident versus cocky. In order to get the bill up a bit, I ordered a nutella cookie as a compromise to the sandwich I would have ordered at Starbucks. I was also interested in the coffee on the shelf and chose a Matalapa from El Salvador roasted by George Howell which subsequently has turned out to be a fabulous cup of joe at home.
The americano is one of the better I have had in a while. It was smooth and like a flower garden; complete with fragrant blossoms and was neither under or over watered. The cookie was pretty good too.
Mercury will be a regular stop on my way to the office, although I’m only there half a dozen times a year. I will also grab a bag of coffee while I’m at it. There’s nothing special about the place other than the brew (and maybe the daily trivia question) and I suspect the bright sun, slight breeze and serenity of an empty Toronto street may have catalyzed the experience, but I’ll take it over of the many possible destinations of the timbucktoos scattered along the route regardless of the time of day.