Fall Colors - shades of cool and great coffee at Street Level Espresso · 25.10.08 by colin newell
Ken Gorden, owner and chief barista at Street Level Espresso on Fort Street, Victoria B.C. Canada leads me down a winding and mysterious staircase into a catacomb underneath the city. Life in the Victoria underworld is a semi-connected circuit of storage areas, utility wiring, plumbing, tunnels… and intrigue.
In Ken`s case, it is his storage locker for Street Level Espresso – the latest addition to the modest collection of great cafes in Victoria. I have lived in Victoria a long time and if memory serves me correctly, I have never been down there – it was cool and fitting for a first impression of this new cafe and the sacred ground it sits on.
Ken Gordon is well known in Victoria B.C. coffee circles as master class espresso brewer who previously held court at Cafe Fantastico and Habit Cafe. But when you are as good at the coffee game as Ken is, there is no cafe that is going to hold him back – unless it`s his own.
Street Level Espresso is the creation of Ken Gordon. At less than 400 square feet, it packs more caffeine sex appeal per square inch than any place I have been to recently. But how does he do it? Ken takes the best practices he has learned in some of Victoria`s hottest joints – added his own design ideas… and then plunked it as close to Victoria`s own Ground Zero (Douglas and Yates). At 2 blocks away from the cities center, Street Level Espresso could arguably be called Espresso Central.
In the 40 minutes that my wife, Andrea, and I were there (near closing time actually), there was an endless parade (no, pageant) of hyper beautiful people – Apparently Ken has some interest and connections to the arts and music scene and it shows – all his friends and admirers were all coming in at once… and were they hot!
Well. Add me to that list. His coffee (Origins from Vancouver) is prepared to perfection. He knows how to pull a wicked espresso and is a great story teller. His interest in cafe culture and coffee history is thorough. So be prepared to talk story while he prepares your favorite drink.
I am a pretty harsh coffee critic (at times) and I give Street Level Espresso top marks for knocking the ball out of the park in short order.