2012 Easter Tofino return to food coffee life and love

Tofitian Cafe Internet bar - TofinoAndrea and I have been popping into Tofino since the 90’s – we were married there – at the Middle Beach Lodge… and have been eating and drinking everything ever since.

Many things can be said about Tofino: Wild west coast getaway for storm watching… food lovers paradise (largely true)… Rainforest enclave resistant to over development (most definitely)…

What cannot be said about Tofino and the neighboring area is this: It is a coffee destination. And yes, I know, one cannot say that about many places in Canada – One does not expect leading edge coffee in places like Hinton, Alberta or Gravelhurst, Saskatchewan, but one is always pleased when great coffee appears in out of the way places. My supposition is this: Tofino should have great coffee. It needs to have great coffee. Great coffee belongs here.

But on some level, it seems, the community resists change and it rejects trends that, on the outside, would not appear to potentially harm the spirit of the community.

The food marketplace of Tofino is on an upwards spiral in terms of ingenuity and creativity as outlined here in an earlier blog.

How is the coffee doing circa 2012 first quarter?

Well. It has not changed much. There are no Discovery Coffee’s, Habit’s or Cafe Fantastico’s in Tofino. There is no Stick in the Mud in Tofino. There could be and the potential is so great, the opportunity so palpable and right now. If I did not have a day job and I was a little braver, I would drop what I was doing and dive right in.

Few communities are more ripe for a “great cafe” – like the ones we take for granted in Victoria, Sooke, Cobble Hill, Nanaimo, Vancouver, Seattle, etc… than Tofino, British Columbia.

Now do not get me wrong – I have a soft spot for the present and the future – and the future is somewhere where great Tofino coffee exists – because it is not in the here and now. At present, there are cafes and kiosks that attempt to break that greatness barrier – it just has not happened yet. Sure, by all means call out your favorite places and claim that they are dope. I have been there… and they are not.

This weekend it was at the advice of Anya of Discovery Coffee that I swoop into The Tofitian to check out their espresso shots from the Cimbali espresso machine. Out of the gate I ordered a single. It was served at the bottom of a 8 fluid ounce cup… in the form of a 3 1/2 fluid ounce shot. Observation: If you have espresso on the menu (and you are charging $2 for a single shot, serve a single in a 2 fluid ounce espresso cup.)

The shot was fairly balanced but not brewed at the ideal temperature – and, at it turns out was Lavazza espresso – containing around 15% Robusta. Cool shot. Easy to drink but dull as a butter knife. But wait, The Tofitian serves Discovery Coffee – or so I thought – looking around, I did not see it mentioned anywhere.

I asked “Do you serve Discovery Coffee?”
Barista reply: “It’s an option…” (A very pleasant and informed barista BTW)

I ordered a shot of DISCO, a single… because that is why I was there.
This time, another 2+ fluid ounce shot into a 8 fluid ounce cup. Brewed cool and served tepid. Drat.

Here is the thing: I did not see the words “Discovery Coffee” anywhere in the Tofitian – or “Lavazza served here…” I guess I must have missed the secret handshake or something.

Verdict: The espresso machine at the Tofitian needs to be tweaked, calibrated or moderized. Espresso cups need to be purchased. Labeling needs to be fine tuned.

The Tofitian feels a bit like a shack – it is associated with a Surf wear store that is in a different building in a cluster of rag tag buildings that feel somewhat itinerant. Kind of harsh but that is the deal. The parking lot is rough pot filled gravel – would it be outrageous to pave it to level it some?

Once again, I leave Tofino after an awesome weekend confused, befuddled and frustrated. I ask: Can one deploy a great cafe in a place like Tofino? Yes – but it is not going to be a kiosk or cart. It is going to be a newer building with some environmental controls. There is so much going on here – so much potential – so little of it realized. But there is the future.

Do not take my word for it – jump in with your voice. Hey – people are hitting Tofino constantly – I would love to hear their opinion – and your opinion.