Ottawa is a small city yet it's the capital of a large and vast country - our home and native land. Bearing that in mind, you can understand how the name, The Ministry of Coffee, came about. I was at first concerned that such a name would be far too pretentious. Is it though? Not in the slightest when you've got the chops to back such a name up.
The Ministry is within a simple, refreshing and bright space. There's no pursuit of vintage vibes here, only a pursuit of cost-effectiveness. Not only did these guys achieved to make their space bright and airy but also inviting and very neat. Very light slabs of wood make up the serving counter as well as the patrons' seating area. What I really liked was the use of simple black galvanized steel pipes and fittings to make their display shelves as well as the menu mounting.
The menu isn’t printed nor is it presented on a chalkboard. Rather, it's written out with a marker on a roll of brown paper. This Sharpie and paper combo represents this shop’s no-nonsense approach. Nothing here is complicated just like The Ministry’s Nutella latte. I appreciate cafés that seek out the best quality chocolate to make incredible chocolate syrup but nothing really beats Nutella. Am I right? There are a couple more parts to this concoction but the espresso is what I really want to talk about. You know what?! Let's just talk about the espresso in and of itself.
Canadian roasters are absolutely killing it lately, and one of my recent favorites is Bows & Arrows, based in Victoria. I don't know what kind of magic they command but may the force remain with them. You might remember how much I raved about the Hathaway from this very same roaster mentioned in my review of Café Humble Lion. Well, The Ministry has got another blend from these guys and it's amazing. The St.66 Espresso is a 60/40 blend of Ethiopia Wote Konga and Guatemala Finca El Tambor. Considering the intensity of the flavours, this coffee is most likely a lighter roast. In fact, in lighter roasts, the bean’s natural flavours are more pronounced and accompanied by higher acidity. Rich and well balanced, the St. 66 packs less of a punch in the aftertaste, making it a very pleasant afternoon pick-me- up. What about those flavours though? I could distinguish sweet tart and plum flavours. These are both very light flavours which makes me think that this bean would be quite appetizing, brewed with a French press, pour- over and even filter. It's something I will have to try.
The espresso itself is great but it's not served alone. You actually get a dose of sparkling water with your 'spro and it's all served on a thin wooden holder with spaces cut out for the drinks and spoon. There are many different ways that you can drink this combination but Adam, barista at The Ministry, taught me a new one and I might just stick to it. You begin by scooping up the crema with your lips or slurping it off, whichever way you find yourself successful in. That's done to remove all the fats and oils contained within the crema that no longer contribute but rather hinder the taste of the coffee. Once you've successfully removed the crema, have a gulp of the sparkling water to cleanse your pallet. Then you can carry on with your espresso. If at some point you feel like you've saturated your taste buds then go ahead and grab another sip of the sparkling water otherwise just leave it there and proceed to ordering a second one.
I wholeheartedly enjoyed the coffee here and am most certainly looking forward to coming back during warmer days to try out their nitrogen charged cold brew served on tap. If more shops of this caliber pop up in the area, Ottawa might become not only the political but also the coffee capital of “our home and native land.”