Just outside the busy Yonge and Eglinton core, Crosstown Coffee Bar is nestled on Highbourne Street within The Eglinton Way. It has everything you could want in a good coffee shop: a quaint setting, charming staff, and of course, hot coffee just the way you like it. Sheliza from The Eglinton Way recently sat down with Emerset Farquharson, the manager and head barista at Crosstown Coffee, over a cup of coffee to learn more about this local cafe.
The Eglinton Way: Thanks for spelling your last name for me, Emerset. It’s a tricky one. How did you become involved in the coffee business?
Emerset: I was looking for a summer job and knew I was interested in sharing my passion for coffee with other people. I was not planning on applying to Crosstown Coffee at first. I liked coming here to work and enjoyed the coffee and was worried it would change my love of this place, but a former barista suggested it one day and the rest is history.
I’ve also taken courses through the Canadian Barista and Coffee Academy, where the teaching is focused on the theory of coffee.
To demonstrate, Emerset prepares an espresso for me. As the coffee grinds, he explains the importance of the dry weight from the ground coffee and the wet weight, which is the brew. The proportions play an important role in developing the flavor of the coffee. The espresso is sharp and strong.
The Eglinton Way: It seems to be working out well for you. What sets Crosstown Coffee Bar apart from other cafes in the city?
Emerset: At Crosstown Coffee we’re able to identify where our coffee is coming from and when it was roasted. This is important information when it comes to flavour. We’re one of three Hale Coffee Shops in the city. The others are Café Moi and Hale Coffee.
The Eglinton Way: What is a typical day at Crosstown Coffee like?
Emerset: I get here at 6:30am and we open at 7:00am. It’s nice that the days are longer now, and I’m not coming in when it’s still dark outside. The morning crowd tends to be less social since they’ve gotten up so early and often get their coffees to-go. Then, around mid-morning, people will start to sit with their coffees and linger more. People come with their stroller or dogs to enjoy the ambiance and their morning beverage. We know our regulars.
The Eglinton Way: What do you love most about working at Crosstown Coffee Bar?
Emerset: The location is great. We’re in a quiet neighbourhood, but close to the energy of the city – just a little away from traffic. All of our customers are regulars, which is also really nice.
The Eglinton Way: There’s definitely a community feel to The Eglinton Way. What is the story behind the shop’s penny-farthing logo?
Emerset: Sasha, the owner of Crosstown Coffee, spends a lot of time biking around Toronto. She came across this location while on a bike ride a couple years ago. She brought her journey to life through the store’s bicycle theme.
The Eglinton Way: That must resonate with a lot of other bikers in the city. How do you take your coffee?
Emerset: I like a quad macchiato with almond milk or sometimes, just a classic espresso.
The Eglinton Way: You must have quite the caffeine tolerance. Last question, what makes a good cup of coffee to you?
Emerset: How you like your coffee comes down to the individual. I’m partial to lighter roasts. They often have more flavor and nuanced tastes than the darker roasts. It goes against third wave coffee theory, but I do not rely on tasting notes since they can be so subjective. Instead I recommended following your own pallet and its reaction. To me, coffee is not a science but an art.