The owner of Seven Grams Espresso had been working for the School Board in Hamilton, surrounded by only the ubiquitous Timmy Ho’s and found herself longing for the coffee of her native Seoul and the cafés of Europe. She picked up and moved to Toronto, where, in 2011, she made her longtime dream of owning an espresso bar and art gallery a reality. Now, at the corner of Av and Dav you can get yourself an expertly pulled shot of Te Aro espresso and peruse the work of local artists at Seven Grams. We love partnering with Heran to caffeinate the Yorkville ‘hood, because she’s dedicated to making top-shelf coffee and her shop’s got class.
Unlike a lot of café owners in the city, Heran didn’t start off as a barista—but she is no newbie to the scene. While living in South Korea, where she says cafés practically double as living rooms, she spent years drinking coffee made by some of the world’s most serious baristas. She wanted to bring that level of quality and attentiveness to her shop’s coffee and quickly set to work training herself. She attended the incredibly rigorous training to become a Q Grader, passing all the tests except for one, which is pretty darn good considering there is only a small handful of certified Q Graders in the country (Te Aro’s Andy Wilkin being one of them). She then studied with pourover masters in Seoul, where manual brewing methods are a huge part of the coffee world, and they take their barista training seriously with two levels of certification earned only after intense study.
When Heran embarked on the journey of conceptualizing and creating Seven Grams, she knew she wanted to go beyond espresso, and offer Torontonians the full range of the coffee experience she’d had overseas. So she stocked the bar with pourovers, cold drip, and the rare Trifecta (a sophisticated brewer that allows the barista to control and customize the brewing parameters to make a totally unique, individualized cup with a completely uniform extraction, to get a little tech-y on you). Heran herself is a lover of the pourover, for its delicate, clean tea-like quality, and one made with Te Aro’s Ethiopian Sidama is her idea of a perfect drink.
The sophistication present in the coffee at Seven Grams extends to the physical space. Heran sees ambience and environment as being just as important as the quality of the drinks. She modeled her espresso bar after what she’d experienced in Asia and Europe, where the café is a social hub and cornerstone of culture. She was sure to include a communal table to facilitate those beautiful chance meetings that are less common in North America, where people aren’t as quick to strike up conversations with strangers in a café. She also adorns the walls with the work of local artists, combining her love of art and aesthetics with her passion for coffee.
The name, Seven Grams, refers to the traditional Italian measurement for the amount of coffee in one espresso shot, and is an homage to the European espresso tradition. Seven is also a lucky number, and judging by the bustle of the café and its devout customers, it seems to be working. But it’s not just luck, Heran is dedicated to her café and it shows. Like she says, “it’s my baby.”
Check out Seven Grams at 131 Avenue Road, or online at http://www.sevengrams.ca