More often than not we settle… well, I know I definitely settle. Sometimes I’ll take a sip of that disgusting coffee in the morning and although it will ruin the rest of my morning, I take a gulp of routine and go to the same place again and again to be satisfied once in a blue moon.
I am, and have been for a while now, on the hunt for a good coffee shop that I can call home. I am not happy with Starbucks and lately Tim Horton’s has simply been disappointing me with their burnt coffee. I am not your typical coffee-obsessed-jargon-talking individual. I am just as obsessed with coffee as I am with water – it is a necessity more than a pleasure. Though I must confess, I do find pleasure in drinking room-temperature water.
As your very typical “google that!” suggestive individual, I googled “best cafes in Toronto”. I didn’t want just any coffee shop, I wanted a place where I could sit, hours on end and people-watch, sip on quality coffee and write the occasional blog. I wanted a place that felt warm and welcoming. A place where I could work up enough courage to hold casual, small-talk with regulars about human motivation and the daily struggles of the first world millennial.
I suppose I should just jump right in and explain the first spot I hit up on the list of “best cafes in Toronto”: Jimmy’s Coffee. I came here on a Monday morning around 10:30am, and right away I got this indie, hipster vibe from the place. They were playing Red Hot Chili Peppers when I walked in and immediately I fell in love. Red Hot Chili Peppers always brings me back to my alternative-rock-listening, dark-eyeliner-wearing era. I definitely felt at home and felt I need not look any further. The people seemed superficially hip. I suppose that’s the only observation I could make for certain since I didn’t work up the courage to even say a polite “hello” to a stranger. I’m saving that for my next visit where I hope to at least get to know more about the cafe from the employees.
Next on the list was a place called Sorry Coffee. As far as coffee shops go, I feel they have a lot to be sorry about, and maybe that’s their aim? The place is extremely tiny in the sense of a coffee shop. There are a handful of stools facing the window and wooden backless box benches (which I presume are probably very uncomfortable). I immediately asked if there was more room to sit since I noticed an open space that lead to what looked like a clothing shop. I was told that there were more wooden benches down the side of the wall, along and until the retail store, which was a part of the coffee shop. And in addition, there were couches which I could use.
I was intrigued and a little intimidated. I know Indigo has the whole Starbucks in the shop thing, but a clothing store and a coffee shop? That’s something I wouldn’t have thought. As soon as I placed my order for just a regular, medium roast brewed cup o’ Joe, I was told it was only in the shape of an Espresso, Americano or Latte. Excuse me? I just want coffee. Anyway, I ordered an Americano even though at that moment I felt like leaving immediately.
As I sat down, I noticed the retail shop was really busy. People were running back and forth fixing details in the store and customers were busy trying on clothes. The couches were immediately outside the fitting rooms which I suppose would be great if you were helping out a friend try on multiple things, but as a person who just wants a place to sit, sip and type, it wasn’t the best of locations. Regardless, I sat down and wrote away. Surprisingly the first sip of the coffee was quite tasteful. Bold and full of flavour. I did not regret it.
Anyway, after I checked off the things that I did not immediately fall in love with, I started to notice the things that I did like and maybe these things would bring me back to this place, perhaps not alone, but with someone for a little while. The coffee, excuse me, the Americano, although a little pricey for its size, was really tasteful. The music playing was upbeat and not too annoying. I did however zone out the music, since it was unfamiliar to me.
I spoke to a colleague about my hunt for good coffee and she recommended a place called “Little Nicky’s“. It was interesting to me because I had heard of this place many times before. Not in particular from anyone, but always on my walk to my friends house, I would walk past their gigantic sign and always wonder what the actual place was all about and if their coffee really deserved such a humungous sign. So one day, I made my way over to Little Nicky’s. To my surprise, the shop itself was in fact smaller than the sign itself, this picture below will give you an idea.
I went in and started looking around to notice that it had a very vintage vibe. I took a few snaps and went up to the barista to order a cup of coffee. He wasn’t pleasant. He seemed like he was having a bad day, to say the least. Anyway, I asked if he had brewed coffee and he said yes, so I ordered that and I also asked if they had more baked goods and he said no, while pointing to the two to three options I had in front of me on a cake tray. There wasn’t a lot. Then he recommended the freshly made mini donuts and I thought to myself, why not? Best. Decision. I. Ever. Made! These mini donuts were so nice and warm and sprinkled with the perfect amount of brown sugar. They were scrumptious. I promised myself I would go back, if not for anything else, but for those donuts. I did not stay as there was no room for me to sit, but the coffee was alright and the donuts were amazing and worth the visit!
I wasn’t in search for a new coffee place for a while after my trip to Little Nicky’s. Life just took a hold of me and I had to put my search on hold. I went to the occasional Aroma Espresso Bar and was truly never disappointed by their coffee. In fact, the entire aura of Aroma is very pleasant and comfortable. I always think that Aroma is a hybrid between Starbucks and Second Cup. I do in particular enjoy their coffee, but their food is absolutely over priced – for something I could easily make at home.
Most recently, I stumbled upon a very distinct coffee shop on Dundas West – the home to many unique places. It was called Offsite. My sister and I were early for our brunch, but we desperately needed to wake up. It happened to be near our parking spot, otherwise I doubt I would have ever stumbled upon this gem. It was a shop more than it was a coffee shop. They had clothes and other small merchandise for sale. They also had a handful of places to sit and even a nice big comfy couch in the back of the shop.
Everything was very eclectic and unique. It was a very hip and artsy shop. They (thankfully) had more options when it came to coffee, and yes, they did have good ol’ brewed coffee. My sister opted for some super healthy almond milk latte. They were a healthy and clean eating promoting shop, even though they did have some delicious pastries that I drooled over but never bought, afraid I would lose my appetite for brunch.
[That’s my sister enjoying her healthy latte which she said was absolutely delicious.]
These are but a few of the coffee places that I experienced for the first time and I did quite enjoy. Time will tell how often I visit them. What are some of your favourite coffee shops around town? What place can you recommend for me to try and add to my list of coffee shops to check out? Comment below! I would love to be in the know!