T.O.’s bean scene not so sweet.
I've read your feature on cafés and coffee in Toronto (NOW, October 16-22). I wish the scene were as great as you say it is. I'm a bit of a coffee fanatic, with a particular love of espresso. Almost all the new independent cafés featured in your article have a great, funky atmosphere, lots of enthusiasm, very good baked goods but horrible espresso. The essential feature of espresso in Toronto is bitterness and, often, thinness, producing the worst of both worlds for espresso lovers.
I'm not sure why this should be. In Italy or Spain, it's hard to find a bad cup of coffee. I've been to a number of cafés in New York City and San Francisco with excellent espresso, and Vancouver has quite a few, beginning with Artigiano.
But with few exceptions (Balzac's in Liberty Village), the standard of espresso in Toronto is abysmal.
Manic French twist
You mentioned Green Beanery as somewhere to buy coffee makers, but Coffee Tree Roastery, Manic Coffee, even Starbucks or Second Cup can sell you a French press or Bodum at lower prices. I recently replaced my dropped French press from Manic for $23 plus tax for the small size. Much more energy- and space-efficient than a huge plug-in-and-brew-a-gallon-to-last-the-day job.
Coffee is best made in small batches and drunk right away. Darcy at Coffee Tree Roastery told me years ago that past two minutes, fatty acids in the coffee start to break down and give you the bitter taste.
Might be worth mentioning that roasting breaks down caffeine instead of concentrating it. A light roast is required if you want a hard kick from caffeine. Thanks for the feature.
Alan E. Devine
It didn't take long to hear the choking sounds of malcontents sucking on too many sour grapes over Stephen Harper's democratic victory.
According to Enzo DiMatteo's neo-left mathematics, Harper had "the support of 20 per cent of eligible voters" (NOW, October 16-22). In fact, Harper had 37 per cent of the popular vote, but DiMatteo included all the eligible voters, even if they did not vote. In that case, Dion had only the support of 14 per cent of the eligible vote, Layton only 10 per cent. Harper still wins DiMatteo writes that "Harper appeals to our baser instincts." What is more base than disgruntled people who know the rules and, when they lose, start to whine?
The electoral process in Canada should be considered a national disgrace. One-third of eligible voters cast a ballot, and 20 per cent voted for the wanker that won. In a sane representative democracy, election results would legally be considered null and void until at least 70 per cent of the population participates. The vast majority of us are working our asses off every day. We're not lazy. We choose to "ignore the thieves." It never changes. Don't you get that?
Rep by pop rip off
The disastrous federal election highlights the urgent need for electoral reform in Canada. We have come along way since 1758 in Nova Scotia when the only qualified voters were white male property-owning Protestants over 21 years old, but much still needs to be done.
Scratching the surface
I realized that Canadian theatre is dead when, to my shock, your reviewer gave the horrid Scratch (NOW, October 16-22) four undeserving Ns. By the way, teachers, do you know that there's a simulated blow job in the play? I did not believe a moment of it, from the stereotypes of teens and unscrewed aunties. It had the standard elements of what we think of as good theatre - you know, monologues that go around and around.
Maher tears strip off Bacon
While discussing his documentary Religulous, Bill Maher states quite correctly that many religious people are ignorant about the holy books they read (NOW, October 2-8). I'm reminded of a quote by Francis Bacon: "Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true."
Regarding For the birds (NOW, October 16-22). I'm another "dickface" who put up a bunch of "worthless" art birdhouses in Woodford Park, beside Mimico Creek just north of the Queensway. The bird and squirrels love them.
I don't care what birdhouse critics like "Concerned Citizen" think.
A birdhouse critic. Ha!
That's the crows laughing.
Gregory Allan Elliott