What's a Coffee Commentary?
Subject: Caffe in Gamba
Location visited: Montreal, QC
Free WiFi ? : yes
Rating: 6+ [see key]
Growing up in South Jersey/Philadelphia in a sea of steadfast drip (filtered) coffee drinkers, espresso always appeared to be a foreign concoction that only super coffee addicts and Europeans with a strong palate imbibed. Coffee made in a hot plate coffee pot was the people's brew and that's what normal people drank.
But even though things have changed in my life as well as somewhat in the Philadelphia area (most people still seem to see coffee served off a hot plate as superior), I still doubt that a no-drip-but-espresso-only establishment would ever survive. In fact, I had my doubts as to whether I would see a quality example outside of Seattle.
But on my recent trip to Montreal, I was surprised to stumble upon a popular local coffeehouse called Caffe in Gamba that served only espresso beverages. The venue was located right near Mount Royal (Montreal's big park) on a cute street lined with cafes and other little shops. The exterior displays a large outside patio covered by a lovely awning and large store front windows. The interior emanates a bright red interior accented by a few large chandeliers, with the left wall displaying a range of stellar espresso options from all over the continent.
The espresso being pulled that day was from Intelligentsia, a coffeehouse rooted in Chicago that is slowly becoming more of a household name. The barista, who happened to be very personable, pulled an amazing doubleshot with a beautiful sweetness and nice acidity. The place also serves a variety of food options such as paninis and desserts.
A traditional European-esque establishment like Caffe in Gamba has opportunities in North America but I can't say I have my hopes up to see such places popping up in great numbers. With that knowledge, I would have to say Montreal is lucky to have such a spot. If you're in town, make sure to make a stop.