Saturday, April 11, 2009

Matter of Taste

119 King Street West
Kitchener, Ontario, N2G 1A7

75 King Street South
Waterloo, ON N2J 1P2
(Waterloo Town Square)

We heard a lot of good things about "Matter of Taste" soon after its opening at the Waterloo Town Square. On my first visit I ordered a cappuccino. The drink was absolutely superb but what really surprised me was the creamy, pretty leaf on my cappuccino. No, it was not my first encounter with latte art; I just didn't expect it, Waterloo. For a moment I felt like I shouldn't have paid with my Starbucks Duetto card.

It was quite pleasant to watch their baristas work. I don't know if it is written in their training guide but I noticed a change in their attitude (all of them!) as soon as they pick up the portafilter. The baristas are still very friendly but it is obvious that they are completely absorbed in the coffee-making process. It's like a tea ceremony (except much shorter). Confident yet cautious, each movement is to perfect the flavor of the end product.

And speaking of the end product, let's put it this way: suppose you always get sorbet (sometimes granita) when you order ice cream. One day you really get what you want (that is, ice cream). So you have the first taste and ask yourself, "if this is ice cream, what did I have before?" It totally reminds me why I become a cappuccino lover. When I take a sip, the bold taste of coffee fills my mouth mixed with the sweetness of milk, while silky froth gently wraps my taste buds like feather-light down duvet. It casts a spell on me. I just have to stop by every time I'm remotely close to Waterloo Town Square, like a moth to a flame.

Matter of Taste expanded into Waterloo last year; their first store is located in Kitchener. I vaguely remember seeing a banner saying "Best Barista in Ontario" when I drove along King St. "Mmm...I wonder what this competition is about". So I looked it up online and...viola! Matter of Taste not only produced the best barista in Ontario, it is also the breeding ground Of Canadian regional champions. According to Canadian Canadian Barista & Coffee Academy, "Each competitor must prepare and serve 12 separate espresso beverages: 4 espresso, 4 cappuccinos, and 4 "signature" drinks of their own creation, and present them to a distinguished panel of judges. Competitors have only fifteen minutes to prepare all twelve drinks and are judged on station cleanliness, taste, beverage presentation, technical skills and total impression by a distinguished panel of judges." I don't know how well-regarded the competition is in the world of coffee-making, but it is nice to know that the owners of Matter of Taste are willing to invest in their employees and provide the best products possible.

Nowadays my life is always on go. Juggling work, house chores and a young child just like many others...sometimes a little bit of "me" time seems to be so out of reach. I like to enjoy a cappuccino at Matter of Taste (even if I have to have it in a paper cup if Baby Martini is with me). To me, happiness is that simple.