There are a lot of places in this city that are happy to give you a caffeine kick, but finding the perfect bean isn’t always just about the taste of your java. It’s about atmosphere, attitude and, a lot of times, a blend as complex as, well, coffee. So we’re throwing out 11 spots throughout Toronto that we think manage to offer their own unique take on what it means to offer up cups of Joe professionally.
The Tampered Press – Dundas & Ossington
Located on Dundas West, just across the street from the north side of Trinity Bellwoods park, The Tampered Press has everything you could want in a Toronto coffee shop. Style, substance, sweet treats, WiFi, and board games. Oh, and one hell of an Americano, too. Need we say more?
256 Crawford St.
Dark Horse Espresso Bar – Queen W & E
With four of them spread across the breadth of Toronto’s downtown core, we’d be surprised if you haven’t already found yourself sipping on some Dark Horse. Local art on the walls, deep wooden furniture, and a casual, office-like atmosphere make these ‘bars’ a great place to go to get some work done in public.
Various Downtown Locations
Balzac’s – Distillery District, Liberty Village
Although there are four Balzac’s locations in Toronto (and a few more outside of it), our favourite is the one tucked inside an 1895 Pump House in the Distillery District. The two-storey Grand Parisian-style Cafe offers a fantastic venue to while away an afternoon people watching in Toronto’s only pedestrian neighbourhood.
Various Downtown Locations
The Common – Bloor West
With two locations (surprisingly close to each other), The Common is moving in the same direction as other successful coffee shops in Toronto by continuing to expand its brand. And continuing to provide great, inexpensive coffee is definitely the best way to do that.
1071 College St., 1028 Bloor St. West
Lit Espresso Bar – College W, Roncy
Simply put, Lit is cool. Whether it’s the black and white film playing against the back wall or the huge wooden bar that makes you swoon, it doesn’t matter – this is the kind of place that makes you feel hip just for being there. The coffee being good just puts the icing on the cake – or should be say, the sugar in the latte.
810 College St., 221 Roncesvalles Ave
Cherry Bomb – Roncy
With 17 different roasts up for sale, including a $50/lb Hawaiian Kona, there aren’t a lot of places in Toronto we’d rather visit to pick up a cup while also bringing home a bag. An added bonus is getting to watch all the hot young Roncy moms and dads out walking their dogs and kids.
79 Roncesvalles Ave
Crema Coffee Co. – The Junction, The Danforth
This Junction shop isn’t messing around. It prides itself on being an independent Cafe in a city full of coffee chains. Here, they’ll encourage you to ditch your cream and sugar habits and get into the heart and smell and taste of an authentic bean. Bring your A-game.
3079 Dundas St. W, 53 Bloor St. E, 508 Danforth Ave
The Rooster – Riverdale
Without a doubt, The Rooster Coffee House has the best view in all of Toronto. Located on the east side of Riverdale Park, siting back and relaxing in one of their comfy leather chairs means looking out across the entire city. Their outgoing team of young baristas makes every trip fun, relaxing and full of eye candy.
479 Broadview Ave, 343 King St. E
Sam James Coffee Bar – Harbord
We’re not saying you need a tattoo to walk into this Harbord St. favourite, but it sure wouldn’t hurt. Run by the extremely friendly Sam James (surprise, surprise), this community-based hipster hot spot consistently pours some of the best caffeine you’ll find dripping anywhere in Toronto. Oh, and sometimes they give away bikes too. For real.
297 Harbord St.
Jet Fuel – Cabbagetown
Don’t go looking for decaf in this Cabbagetown mainstay – they don’t carry it. Known for their somewhat edgy attitude (they make you feel like you have to win them over), these coffee experts aren’t shy about their skill or their opinions. But trust us: when you do win them over, it feels about as good as Norm must have felt everyday on Cheers.
519 Parliament Street
Saving Gigi – Bloor West
The sister of Toronto brunch specialists Saving Grace. As the website says, ‘organic fair-trade coffee, local craft beer, homemade food and live music’. Yup, sounds perfect to us too. Share a table with the likes of local celeb Serena Ryder or sit alone and ponder the world at an old, worn-out desk. Either way, this communal space on Bloor offers an easy and enjoyable way to kill an afternoon in the city.
859 Bloor St. W
Top photo courtesy The Rooster