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Coffee roasters in Toronto?

New to the city, with a quality-caffeine addiction from years of JJBean in Vancouver and Toi,Moi&Café in Montreal (both thoroughly recommended, by the way: JJB for some of the best coffee and people-watching in Van and TMC for the best coffee and desserts in Mtl).

A search of the archives here turned up a 2005 thread that recommended Ideal Coffee, Balzac's in the Distillery district, and a couple stalls in the St Lawrence(?) market. Any comments on the roasted coffee beans from those shops, or any other recommendations?

Thanks in advance.

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  1. There was a thread on coffee beans about a month back but I can't find it now. (probably the CH police removed it to some other obscure board as they have a tendency to )
    Some other places that were mentioned are
    - Merchants of Green
    - Greenbeanery
    - Dark City Coffee
    and a few others.


    1. Dark City is really fabulous. You can order it over the phone. They roast it day 1 and you get it delivered to your house the next day.

      1. The coffee at Balzacs is excellent! I just got some of their Medium Dark Ethiopian and I find the flavour is just lovely.

        Personally I am not a fan of the one at St. Lawrence, I find that it tends to have a burnt flavour to it. Also, I have heard excellent things about Dark City but I personally don't use enough coffee to justify it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Otonabee

          Have to second Balzacs! Try the Balzac blend with a white pepper walnut biscotti on the side... heaven....

        2. Moonbeans in Kensington roasts their own. Not sure of their roasting schedule.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Yongeman

            I was in Moonbeans today. They were roasting. They told me that they roast every 2 or 3 days.

          2. I also don't care for the beans at the St Lawrence Market. Alternative Grounds on Roncesvale has great coffee. I love the beans from Just Us, I know you can get them at the Big Carrot.

            2 Replies
            1. re: cheesymama

              I think Cherry Bomb on Roncesvalles roasts their own beans, too. Their coffee is amazing. I think Tinto on Ronces' does, too.

              1. re: mummy2Luna

                Second for the coffee at Cherry Bomb, which is excellent, and mostly fair trade and organic. I love hanging out at Tinto, but don't think their coffee is quite as good.

            2. The Remarkable Bean, in the Beach, now roasts their own, several times a week but I don't think every single day. The Rocket Fuel blend is strong and full-bodied without being bitter.

              1. Not exactly what you're asking for, but since you're new to the city I thought I'd chime in. Il Gato Nero on College St.(two blocks west of Ossington) serves excellent espresso (maybe the best in the city). Try to go on a Saturday morning, when the old man himself is pouring the espressos at the bar. Avoid evenings, as it can get a little bar-y (unless you're looking for that).

                Can't help you with roasters though.

                1. Whole Foods roasts their coffee. The organic dark french roast, which is usually roasted daily. is fabulous.

                  1. Dark City is probably best. You can also try the Coffee Tree, Whole Foods and Balzacs.

                    Merchants of Green Coffee isn't really a coffee roaster. Though they sometimes have freshly roasted beans available, it's more about buying green beans to roast yourself.

                    The coffee at St Lawrence Market may be freshly roasted, but it isn't very good coffee. There are coffee roasters at some Loblaws stores (Empress Walk; Vic Park & Gerrard; some others), but, again, not great. I haven't been all that thrilled with the places in the Beach either - the one on Kingston Rd (name escapes) is really poor.

                    1. http://www.greenbeanery.ca has a great selection, fair trade, organic, and a different roast each day. They are near Harbord and Bathurst, but not open on weekends. Their prices are mostly lower than the others mentioned above, as they are not for profit. The green beans run $3-5./lb.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: jayt90

                        Seconded. I love that place.
                        I bought a roaster from Birds and Beans on Lakeshore (half what they're charging for the same model at Merchants of Green Beans...) and only later discovered the Green Beanery.

                        Completely awesome selection of beans, excellent prices, and prompt friendly customer service- can't beat 'em!

                      2. I must put in my plug for I Deal in Kensington (or Ossington south of Dundas). They roast daily. They trade fairly (but not "Fair Trade") and have organic selections. My favourite is the Prince of Darkness.

                        The best I've had in Toronto, I take it with me when I travel. It's 13 bucks a pound, and you get a free coffee when you order a pound.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: innercitykitty

                          I was going to say the exact same thing! Prince of Darkness is a really nice blend.

                          1. re: SNACKeR

                            I will "third" I Deal - I love this place! I am there almost everyday for my caffeine fix - great prices too!

                        2. Jet Fuel is a coffee shop on Parliament, owner has the beans roasted to his specs and you can buy a bag of whole beans. They only serve espresso/lattes there, plus hot lemonade and if you get there early enough maybe a muffin. Definitely a scene, very Cabbagetown plus bike courier.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: julesrules

                            IMO...the best in town, I love the espresso...

                          2. We bought some freshly-roasted beans not long ago from The Roastery in Liberty Village (Dufferin/King). A nice spot, and pretty decent coffee.

                            1. Coffee Tree in Bloor West Village roast their beans on site.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Mikejor

                                2nd it! Coffee Tree is great!!!

                              2. Since I've started buying my beans green and roasting them myself, I can't go back to pre-roasted - I'm hooked!. I buy my beans from Merchants of Green Coffee - I like to go there, but you can also order online. You can buy a roaster from them, but I just roast mine in the oven on a regular baking sheet.

                                My current favourite takeout coffee is from Bulldog at Church & Granby. They don't grind the beans until you order your drink, and as a bonus they do amazing designs on the lattes.

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: tracey

                                  I love the Bulldog. Their coffee is great, service is stellar and the price is right!
                                  I also really like the Mercury Espresso Bar on Queen East between Carlaw and Logan. And I'm getting excited about the opening of Red Rocket Coffee, opposite the streetcar depot at Queen East and Greenwood.

                                  1. re: mummy2Luna

                                    Greenbeanery in the Annex has been good for me. I bought 20lb. Chiapas green for $70. and have had good coffee every day. I roast once a week in a popcorn device. When I go back, I'll get Yirgacheffe from Ethiopia.They didn't have it when I bought the Mex., but I know it is incredibly rich.

                                    1. re: jayt90

                                      jay - can you give me some details about how you roast your beans in a popcorn device? I would love to roast my own, but I cannot bear the thought of buying more gadgets for the house. However, I do own a popcorn thingy.
                                      My vote is for Moonbean in Kensington. Excellent coffee. Extensive selection for Fair Trade beans. Friendly staff, knowledgeable proprietor - Alan. Plus, it has a bit of that slightly shabby, bohemian vibe going for it.

                                      1. re: mightycheesehead

                                        I put green beans in the chamber so it is about 40% full, and turn it on. The top plastic housing is off, and the vent fan (stove) is on. For two or three minutes I stir gently and occasionally with a long handled spoon. Then the beans turn beige and move on their own, as the first crack stage begins. Sounds a bit like popcorn. Within seconds the second crack starts, and it is a quick rapid fire popping. The temp. is about 450F as this is a fairly slow roast. Some chaffing may happen, depending on the bean. In a minute or so the colour is brown and the beans are removed for cooling. They will continue to roast for a minute or two. This provides enough beans for about two mornings, so I repeat two or three times to get a half pound or less of fresh roasted beans.

                                        1. re: jayt90

                                          Just curious--what kind of popper do you use?

                                          When I first started playing with green coffee, there was a legendary corn popper that doubled as a fluid bed roaster. It was made by West Bend and there seemed to be some kind of legal issue surrounding its sale as a coffee roaster. I couldn't get one and tried the air popper I had. It was not a success, filling the room with chaff. I gave up and bought a Fresh Roast.

                                          1. re: embee

                                            It's a Toastmaster. There is some chaffing, but not excessive. It didn't work well with the clear plastic housing on top (too fast and too brittle). It was just a few dollars at Home Outfitters. If it doesn't work for a new batch, I'll consider getting a roaster, but it has been fine so far.

                                  2. re: tracey

                                    What's the temp and how long you roast them? I would like to try at home.

                                    1. re: shir

                                      The beans should roast between 400 and 450F for 5 minutes, until they crackle like popcorn. It will take about 3 minutes to reach this temp.

                                      I have not had very even results with a cast iron pan, but some people swear by it. Try an air popcorn device first, they are designed to work in the right temp. range. Don't overfill, less than half way is best.
                                      Do it under a range hood, as there will be some smoke, and chaff.
                                      Let the roasted beans rest for 12 hours before grinding.

                                  3. Savoury Grounds in the Beaches has been roasting for 9yrs every second day I believe.
                                    Great coffee and nice atmosphere.

                                    1. Another one for Green Merchants. Went to the Brickworks farmers market on the weekend and they were there with their own special blend just for that market. Excellent stuff and very fresh (he was very excited to show that the coffee had been roasted the day before!)

                                      1. try Lexi's at 221 Sorauren Ave (just south of Dundas, east of Roncesvale). they have great fresh roasted coffee provided by one of the guys from Dark City. also the best Montreal-style Bagels in the west end. they've under new management and recently relaunched, so go give them a shot.

                                        221 Sorauren Ave, Toronto, ON M6R, CA

                                        1. i can't recommend a place for coffee beans, per se, but if you're looking for a fantastic espresso based coffee drink, go to Bulldog on Granby, just south of Church and Carlton on the east side of Church. Very nice espresso -- they serve everything from espresso through cappuccino to latte and americano. They may sell beans too, just ask.