A guest column in yesterday’s Toronto Star concerned a European friend of the writer who feared travelling to North America for the dreadful coffee. She even packed her own espresso machine out of desperation: TheStar.com – A Eurocentric quest for espresso.

The writer was on a mission to convince her European friend that cosmopolitan Toronto had come a long way towards offering good coffee. They started out at Café Diplomatico (aka, “The Dip,” a local Italian café) and a local Starbucks — both that her visitor found dreadful. She reserved particular disdain for the latter:

Kati said that if anyone in Germany or Italy were served espresso in a paper cup, it would be refused — “thrown back” was the literal translation.

Have I ever been tempted to give an espresso shot a heave-ho back at the barista when it comes back to me in a paper cup — even after asking to have it “for here”.

Her visitor found the espresso more acceptable at La Maquette (a French restaurant no less) and particularly excellent at the new and upcoming Mercury Organic Espresso Bar. She also found Jetfuel Coffee to be quite average, Balzac’s Coffee to be a bit better, and gave very high marks for the restaurant espresso at Bar Mercurio.

The writer made no mention of Bulldog Coffee, however, which is a must-visit whenever I’m in Toronto.