A Year of New – Week 1: Espresso

Where: Habit Coffee and Culture, 552 Pandora Street, Victoria BC
Cost: CAD$4.25 (including cookie)

This week is the start of my new project, A Year of New, for which I’ll try or do something new each week that I have never done before and then write about it on this blog. It’s my attempt at a little goal-setting, having something interesting to write about, and making sure I’m really living the life I say I want to live.

I suppose I could have kicked off this project in a grandiose way, but I decided to start small and therefore manageable. I have to remember that this is a project for the next 52 weeks so – let’s face it – I will be a little bit constrained by both available time and money as I go along. While some ideas I have are really pretty big, others will be small ‘new’ milestones. I hope I’ll get a sense of satisfaction out of completing all of them, no matter their size or cost. I have no shortage of good ideas, only resources with which to accomplish them!

For this first new thing, I enlisted the help of Kevin (andai) from Grounds for Burnt Offerings. Since Kevin’s blog is all about appreciating great coffee and coffee culture, he naturally came to mind when I was considering how to jump start this project by trying espresso. Now I do drink coffee occasionally, and have had lattes and cappucinos, but straight espresso was a step that I just hadn’t taken yet. I’m not a black coffee kind of girl, so drinking espresso plain had never even crossed my mind. But for some reason I just had a yen to start here, in trying espresso, to see what all the ‘buzz’ was about!

Kevin graciously responded to my request for help and modestly informed me that he considers himself still a student of coffee culture, even though it appears from his blog that he has certainly sampled quite a bit of espresso drinks from multiple cities and countries! He schooled me in the sizes of espresso shots, told me about crema (the thin layer of foam on top of espresso), and let me know the variations of the ways you can try espresso. Although he doesn’t live in Victoria, Kevin has sampled a few coffee houses here on trips over the years, so I decided to visit a place he has enjoyed and written about – Habit Coffee on Pandora Street.

Although I have probably walked by Habit a hundred times, I never realized it was actually there. So yesterday’s visit was my first, and I must say that I really liked the place. It’s very open and airy, funky in an understated kind of way, and I’m a sucker at any time for exposed brick walls, so theirs made me very happy.

I didn’t even know how to order an espresso so I had to ask the barista for help when I arrived. He told me that a regular shot of espresso is technically a double, so I went for that, adding a triple chocolate cookie into my order at the last minute for good measure! I had a feeling that the espresso would need a little sweetening on the side, and I was right.

I suppose if I had been with friends on my visit I could have stretched drinking that tiny espresso over a period of half an hour or so, but I was alone so it went down pretty quickly. I’m not a heathen – I didn’t gulp the whole thing down in one pour – but it’s a smaller drink than I am used to and I was surprised at how quickly it disappeared! The murky liquid tasted exactly how I thought it would – strong – but I did like it in a half-way there sort of way. I’ve had worse drinks (the wheatgrass at Re-bar comes to mind) and I’ve had better. I definitely usually have sugar and milk, so probably would add these to my cup next time or I would just go full throttle and order a latte like I sometimes do.

Later on back at the office I felt the jitters, which I knew I would since I rarely drink caffeinated drinks anymore. It made for some lively conversations with my coworkers, as I told them about my little experiment! All in all, trying espresso was a good experience because it not only introduced me to something new to drink but a great new cafe to visit in the future.

2 thoughts on “A Year of New – Week 1: Espresso

  1. Hi Beth I can understand the jitters. I always drink decaf and a few month ago we were eating out and the waitress mixed up our orders. I got the caffeine and was wide awake at 2 am!

    I used to need sugar with my espresso in France – it was quite bitter. Enjoy trying new things.


  2. Thanks for being able to relate, Mo! Why is it that I can go to bed with caffeine in my system but then I wake up at 3am and can't get back to sleep?


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