Review: Cafe Augusta
One of downtown Hamilton’s newest cafes looks like it will be a mainstay.
Located on the corner of James Street South and Augusta Street, the cafe opened recently on May 16th and prides itself on being a different experience for the coffee connoisseur.
One need not be a connoisseur to appreciate the soft pastel hues of Cafe Augusta’s interiors, the fresh spring aesthetic of their charming picture frames and table bouquets, or even the colossal cold brew glass towers that rise from the countertop to the ceiling, but it certainly helps to have one around.
Despite having only moved to Hamilton from Ireland last August, Marc Chambers, Cafe Augusta’s operations manager and barista extraordinaire, fits the bill perfectly.
“[It’s perfect] if you appreciate coffee and want to experience it in different ways, because we have five different brewing techniques,” said Chambers.
He is more than happy to share them, and first describes batch brew as a typical “fill up and go on your way” drip coffee.
For cold drinks, he uses a cocktail shaker; the gargantuan cold brew towers, on the other hand, are part of a twelve-hour coffee-making process. “Coffee’s less soluble in cold water, which is why it takes longer,” explained Chambers.
Chambers goes on to reveal a smaller, odd, hourglass-shaped contraption, which he calls a siphon.
“We put a filter [in the middle], water in the bottom, and add a heat source. The gases will push the water up. We add coffee on top, let it seep through a while, then turn the heat source off,” he said. Doing so allows the brewed coffee to drip back down and collect in the bottom bulb.
Another one of Cafe Augusta’s brewing methods, a pour-over technique for anything espresso-based known as Chemex, has quickly taken precedence in his life.
“[Chemex] is the polar opposite of the french press in every way. It’s a lot cleaner, a lot brighter,” said Chambers.
“It’s become my new favourite way of drinking coffee.”
I tried a small Kenyan Chemex coffee along with a Greek yogurt cherry danish. The presentation of the coffee alone, served artfully on a wooden board with a checkerboard of sugar cubes, a glass of cucumber water, and a miniature pitcher of milk, was enough to make me think that it had been worth every nickel of the $4.75 it cost.
In terms of taste, I could see why the Chemex had become Chambers’s favourite: although the coffee was light — just as I liked it — it held its own with a firm flavor, accompanied by fruity undertones. As someone with a weak spot for pastries, I found the danish a tad pricy at $3.50, but still delightful: it was satisfyingly flaky, buttery, and rich with cherry filling throughout.
Chambers says that Cafe Augusta is working on adding paninis to the pastries on the food menu in the forthcoming weeks.
Also in the works is a cocktail list that will eventually be matched up to their food menu, and an attempt to get creative with the design of Cafe Augusta’s interior space.
Chambers claims creativity is his favourite aspect of working at Cafe Augusta.
“[The owners] encourage creativity,” he said, and cites drinks as examples. “With batch brew, we traditionally do some darker roasts, but we also do a brighter one.”
He further proves that they come prepared for seasonal weather.
“When winter’s coming up, we do a Moroccan coffee, which has got a lot of spices in it. It’s a real snuggle-up-to drink,” said Chambers.
The Moroccan coffee is something I intend to return for, but the complex, ongoing evolution at Cafe Augusta prompts me to want to return every month before that.
Although I went into Cafe Augusta thinking singularly about a traditionally brewed cup of coffee, I came out of it with the understanding that drinking coffee offers you more choices than the number of sugars or the amount of milk you take in it.
While their features cannot compete price wise, sometimes it is worth it to indulge.
And if I can say one thing with certainty, whether for the aesthetic, the quality, or the limitless possibilities, Cafe Augusta looks like it will be worth it every time.