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Sep 9, 2006 05:22 AM

serious non-chain coffee in downtown Toronto

I can't stand chain coffee shops like Starbucks and 2nd Cup. I want to find a REAL cafe in downtown Toronto where they take their coffee seriously and that doesn't feel like the an airport waiting lounge.

Any suggestions?

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  1. Try wandering through Kensington - there are a few good ones there e.g. Moonbeam, Kensingtons. And don't forget to take some home with you...yummy.

    1 Reply
    1. re: oishi

      i second Moonbean... great selection of coffees, and in the back, the patio feels like you're hanging out at a friends place.

    2. Jet Fuel, parliament north of carlton. I have only been here once after hearing about it a lot, and I'd say one of the best coffees you will have in Toronto.

      In my hood the Beaches I like the Remarkable Bean.

      In the Distillery district there is Balzac's which is also very good.

      I'm sure others will have more suggestions!

      5 Replies
      1. re: cord

        I second Jet Fuel, they have great coffee, but with a word or warning... You need to know what you want, there is no menu with a list of what they serve, or the prices. and if you want just a 'regular' coffee it will be an americano because they make the coffee as you order it, so everything they serve is espresso based.

        But yes, exceptionally yummy coffee, I just was a little thrown by the no menu thing when I first went. Oh, also, they only take cash, just so you know...

        1. re: mainja

          Yes, I have to admit I was a bit thrown as well the first time I went - also because there seemed to be a bit of a "scene" in there, and I felt a little out of place, but the coffee is excellent! I think a second visit would be much easier.

          1. re: cord

            absolutely, second time was just fine. but first time would have been easier if i knew about the no menu cash only thing. ;)

            1. re: mainja

              Love Jet Fuel and had a lovely latte at Petit Thet yesterday

        2. re: cord

          Three great suggestions! I agree with all.

        3. One of my faves is B Espresso Bar / 111 Queen St. E.

          My girlfriend had a baby shower there, I would have never found the place otherwise; not in the best area and not a very prominent sign (look for the 'Illy' light). But it's an amazing little spot.

          1 Reply
          1. re: NovoCuisine

            Couldn't agree with you more. B Espresso is where I've enjoyed the best coffee in Toronto.

          2. I am a coffee fanatic. Right now I'm drinking freshly-ground beans that were roasted a few days ago at Merchants Of Green Coffee. Like flying business class (Merchants), you can never go back to coach ("Fourbucks", Second Cup, Timothy's, even many ma-and-pa places that have cruddy beans).

            So I have three suggestions for anyone who wants a great cup of coffee and a great atmosphere:

            1) Mercury Espresso Bar - Queen St. E
            2) Cafe Vert (right across the street from Mercury)
            3) Go directly to Merchants - a cool place to see for yourself, they'll give you a free cup of freshly roasted, freshly ground coffee and you will not believe how good it tastes. Right now they have a rather scaled-down coffee bar, but I think they are trying to get it more full-service soon)

            The reason I suggest the first two places is that they serve freshly-roasted Merchants beans.


            2 Replies
            1. re: sweetspotlee

              I'm 95% sure that Mercury uses beans from Dark City Coffee, not Merchant of Green Coffee.

              A good choice though. IMHO, Mercury and Bulldog are the only reliable coffeeshops in town.

              1. re: detritus

                You're absolutely right - but what is not common knowledge is that Dark City Coffee uses Merchants beans!

            2. Some of my favourites:


              Moonbean (aforementioned

              Jet Fuel (aforementioned

              I'll speak to Bulldog, which hasn't been mentioned yet in this thread. It's a great little place tucked away near Church & Carlton which serves some of the best espresso in the city, in my opinion. The place is tiny though, so be forewarned that you might be grabbing your coffee to go.