Head to the East Side of Toronto for the best coffee. This is bold advice, and would likely upset most Torontonians #sorrynotsorry. Having lived in the city for two years, I feel qualified to make such a statement. Am I biased? Yes. But am I right? Duh, always.
You can find hot, fragrant, melt-in-your-mouth coffee in Toronto if you know where to look. Having lived on the East Side (there is a rivalry between East and West, I have no idea why) most of my favourite locals are out that way. The city is expanding so fast, there are new cafes popping up on the regular. I’m going to have to make frequent trips back to these neighbourhoods to see how the coffee scene is keeping up with the demand of the growing caffeinated population. I have listed my favourites below, both for the coffee, but also the atmosphere, which is essential to enjoying a good cuppa.
TE ARO, LESLIEVILLE.
My favourite coffee in the city. Te Aro uses Pilot Coffee Roasters beans, supplying a few other local coffee spots too. Word on the street is that the owners are originally from New Zealand. That explains a lot. Trust me, Te Aro is a must. They also have a large patio out front which bustles during the summer months.
MERCHANTS OF GREEN COFFEE, RIVERSIDE.
I can’t quite put my finger on the vibe in this cafe and roastery, but I love it. I’ve seen people playing boardgames, conducting business meetings and also family events in the large, industrial green-filled space. Merchants’ coffee is delicious, although be prepared to wait. The chill atmosphere seems to stem from the relaxed baristas. But the coffee is worth the wait.
NEO COFFEE BAR, ST. LAWRENCE MARKET.
I used to live on the same block as Neo, naturally it was my local. With it’s minimal design, concrete walls, marble counters and glass cube kitchen, Neo’s interior is enough to keep you coming back. What’s more, they make a killer flat white, and I would highly recommend accompanying your beverage of choice with a matcha white chocolate cookie……
DINEEN COFFEE CO., DOWNTOWN.
Dineen is located in the business district, where every second suit is bustling past with a Starbucks brown sugar shortbread latte (wtf?). Dineen’s ability to stay true to coffee, and to do the basics well is why it features on my list of recommendations.
BOXCAR SOCIAL, RIVERSIDE.
Check out those big, bright windows and that rustic timber counter front. This warm, inviting space is a coffee shop by day, drinking hole by night. Boxcar has extensive wine, beer and whisky lists – who says you can’t have it all?
QUANTUM COFFEE, KING WEST.
A delicious aroma hits you when you step foot in Quantum Coffee. The fresh, modern, open space attracts younger crowds, laptops are a plenty. They serve their house roasts at the poor over bar – for a habitual espresso drinker like myself, Quantum Coffee offers a unique, hands on caffeinated experience.
BROADVIEW HOTEL, RIVERSIDE.
What used to be a strip club named Jilly’s is now one of the most popular dining spots on the East side. My photos below are of the charming street level cafe/bar, but there is also a restaurant and rooftop patio with amazing views of the city. I’m not going to lie and say Broadview’s coffee is amazing, but it’s good enough (coming from a coffee snob) and the instagrammable interiors and views make it well worth the visit.