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Coffee at Danforth / Coxwell?

The Niche is mysteriously (and, it would seem, indefinitely) closed, and today I saw a "For Sale" sign in the window of Beanies. Where else in this neighbourhood can one find at least decent coffee and a good place to hang out?

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  1. Little west towards Jones Ave.at Queen brings you to Tango Palace, a nice cozy coffee shop. Before that just east of Greenwood, across from the streetcar yard, is Red Rocket.
    There are probably some more interesting little places along that stretch of Queen but those two are quite popular choices in Leslieville.

    1. The Last Drop Cafe at Coxwell & Sammon (10 minute walk north on Coxwell) has decent coffee and a nice atmosphere.

      1. There's a nice place called Earth Grounds on Coxwell south of O'Connor, though something tells me that's kinda far for your needs. They close at 5:00 PM.

        Many places along Queen in Leslieville.

        A Starbuck's on Danforth a few blocks east of Pape.

        But I can't think of anything in the Danforth/Coxwell area.

        1. Renaissance Cafe is up towards Woodbine and it's great if you like live music at night, but I'm not sure how regular their hours are. 416 422 1441.

          Renaissance Cafe
          1938 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4C, CA

          1. There's a nice little place called Upper Beach Cafe on Gerrard just west of Woodbine, fair-trade organic coffee, fireplace, soups salads sandwiches, etc.

            Upper Beach Cafe
            1917 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4L2C2, CA

            6 Replies
            1. re: JamieK

              We went to the Upper Beach Cafe yesterday and didn't like their coffee at all. I'm usually not too fussy about coffee - atmosphere can make a difference - but this one was actually undrinkable. We, too, are looking for a great neighbourhood coffee place (with WIFI, if possible) and have come up empty handed. Unfortunately the Renaissance Cafe on Danforth doesn't open until 4:00. The Fade In Cafe at Gerrard and Main has decent coffee but their food has gone downhill.

              1. re: torontogal

                That's too bad; it's right around the corner from me, so I had high hopes...

                I don't enjoy the atmosphere at Renaissance Café; too grungy, too dark. The chairs are comfy, and the coffee's good, but it needs something, and badly.

                1. re: torontogal

                  I found the coffee at Fade In Cafe to be like brown water and could not drink it. They are now catering to the cheap booze crowd and is not a friendly neighbourhood cafe at all. Upper Beach Cafe has both strong and mild coffees so just mention your preference.

                  1. re: torontogal

                    I go to the Upper Beach Cafe all the time. They have good food and I have never had a problem with their coffee. I am familiar with the coffee at the Fade In Cafe and I find it to be very weak. You most probably enjoy a milder brew of coffee. The Upper Beach have both a dark organic and a mild organic blend of cofee, so just let them know what you like.

                    1. re: Char_lottesWeb

                      Funny, I had the exact opposite experience at the Upper Beach. It was watery and tasteless, and had sat in the thermal carafe for too long. We had to wait at least 10 minutes for someone to come out from the back to serve us at the counter (us and another customer).Yes, the Fade in has gone downhill as they seem to be catering to a different crowd. They have new owners now and for awhile had changed their coffee to what tasted like a costco brand -- very weak. Lately, though, they have reverted back to their old organic coffee (choice of dark or mild). Maybe my experience at the Upper Beach was just a terrible "one off", but we actually threw the coffee in the garbage. Edited to add: Maybe we will give them one more chance.

                      1. re: torontogal

                        I had a pretty good coffee at Upper Beach but that was a while ago. I hope they smarten their act. There's not really any other alternatives in that neighbourhood, unless you count Goodtime Coffee, which is a whole other ballgame. I've been hoping Upper Beach succeeds, will have to check them out again soon.

                2. I love the place on Coxwell, just south of O'Connor (west side) called.. for the life of me I can't remember! Lots of fair trade / organic coffee, a cosy and large atmosphere, and Ed who runs the place is a lot of fun.. It's across from Hollingers.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Joshman

                    That's Earth Grounds - it's next door to Hollingers.

                    1. I noticed a cafe by East General over a year ago. There are 2-3 businesses on a southwest corner of Coxwell and ?, near the southern end of of the hospital. One of them was a cafe that looked decent. Seemed to be attracting a mom & baby crowd to the small patio. I'm sorry I don't have more precise info but maybe someone can help. If it still exists, it's closer to you than many of these other options

                      1. That's The Last Drop mentioned by alsiem above. It is also licensed for beer and wine.

                        2 Replies
                          1. re: JamieK

                            actually called Last Drop Coffee House and it seems to be quite popular with the hospital workers across the road as well as the mom & tot crowd.

                            Last Drop
                            549 Sammon Ave, Toronto, ON M4J, CA

                          2. I've enjoyed the Last Drop and Chocolate Heaven before (the latter for take-away rather than sit-in), and I'll be visiting them more often now. Thanks also for the Earth Grounds recommendation - I'll be trying it later this week.

                            1. I went to Earth Grounds this afternoon, and I think it will become my new neighbourhood coffee haunt. Good latte, cheerful conversation with Ed, and they have ice cream in the summer. Yay!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: thought_for_food

                                I don't mind the Bus Terminal just a few steps east of Coxwell on the Danforth.

                                The food isn't bad, either.

                              2. Going south, but not as far as Tango Palace or Red Rocket, I Deal Coffee is now open on Queen at the foot of Ashdale. Walkable from Coxwell and Gerrard. I don't know whether they have their wi-fi in yet, but they have plans for free wi-fi.

                                1. Earth Grounds Espresso Bar at 1028 Coxwell near O'Connor, across from the LCBO. It's been there for 5 years and they serve only organic and fair trade coffee.

                                  1. Just to add to the litany, Three's Company has moved out, too.

                                    However, there are now SO many choices in our end of town. Tango Palace is a bit west on Queen, but a veteran classic. A bit further west brings you to the highly alternative but very worthwhile Mercury Cafe, now just a block from the new Star*ucks.

                                    Back a bit closer to Coxwell/Danforth, there are a smattering of small Italian espresso joints on the north side both east and west of Coxwell. the Italian guys seem to consider these good to hang at. Also several Ethiopean cafes (and by cafes, we're talking espresso available)

                                    New kid on the block, but WORTH a look, the Hot Pot Cafe, 1 block west of Greenwood - a Moroccan cafe with shockingly gorgeous decor, ready to please staff, and free wifi! We honeymooned in Morocco - and this place took us back! Check out the Bedhouin party tent in the back...

                                    Down at Queen, working east from Greenwood, Film Buff has an espresso machine, *excellent* ice cream (Maypole) and a relaxed staff.

                                    Across from the streetcar yards is our new favorite, Red Rocket Coffee. Completely amazing, simple food to die for (coconut curry shortbread?) and very eclectic setting, free wi-fi.

                                    And then almost at Coxwell (Ashdale) the newest location of iDeal Coffee - Kensington vibe, very laid-back, great latte (free with one pound of virtuous beans).

                                    There's the inventory so far. So much better than The Only Cafe at Donlands seven years ago.

                                    11 Replies
                                    1. re: rasalhanoute

                                      More info on this Hot Pot Cafe please! Hours? Fulll meals or snacks? Sounds like it deserves its own thread.

                                      1. re: julesrules

                                        'respec, Prissypants - the huge espresso machine (and superlative mint tea) rank a mention in this thread. Nrewbie, have to figure out how to point to a new thread.

                                        Hot Pot hours are 11am to Late, basics for lunch, more delux on weekends with tagine and harira and couscous.

                                        1. re: rasalhanoute

                                          Thanks for the info. I was simply excited about your find. It's kinda a dead zone and sounds like the place has a lot to offer. But hey, call me whatever you want....

                                          1. re: rasalhanoute

                                            We went in there after someone had posted previously on Chowhound that they served couscous and tajunes on weekends. They didn't have ANY food. They said they didn't ever serve food.

                                            Until I showed up at the door after parking, my wife was made to feel decidedly unwelcome. They also seem to allow smoking. These things may not bother you, but we will never return.

                                            1. re: embee

                                              Bizarre, I definitely had a tajine there on a Saturday. I did try to get some food once there on a Sunday recently and was told they didn't start serving until 2. Maybe they weren't getting the volume in food sales and stopped, but it's sad either they had a new employee who didn't know about the previous food sales or someone felt they had to lie to you.

                                              1. re: Pincus

                                                I couldn't say, but it was moderately busy and nobody was eating anything during the ten minutes or so that we were there.

                                        2. re: rasalhanoute

                                          Thanks for the info on the Hot Pot, passed by there and was curious, now I will definitely visit.

                                          1. re: Pincus

                                            Where is the Hot Pot exactly? I was walking the Danforth Donlands to Linsmore the other day and somehow missed it...

                                            1. re: julesrules

                                              Not sure of the exact address, but it's about a block west of Sarah's. Does that help?

                                              I noticed when I drove by yesterday that they have a new big sign, and the interior looked interesting!

                                              1. re: Tara9000

                                                Yes thank you :) East of Greenwood subway then.

                                                1. re: julesrules

                                                  I went when Hot Pot first opened they offered food- it was great. Just a few months ago they had a change of owners and now they don't serve food. Just fancy Moroccan mint tea in a silver pot and Shisha pipe. It's more of a "guys" place now... I haven't stepped foot in it since.

                                        3. If we're still talking about good coffee and a nice place to hang out, my pick is the Last Drop Cafe on Coxwell and Sammon. Easily the best coffee in the Beaches/East York area; friendly service and a relaxed atmosphere. They're also open later than most of the other places (9 or 10pm, I think) and they have decent food.

                                          1. Definetely hit Earth Grounds just south of O'connor on Coxwell its right beside Hollinger's Restaurant. just moved into the area and I have been to both. Earth Grounds serves fair trade organic coffee, esspresso cappucino etc. nice music and atmosphere.. Ed the owner is always great to chat with. Nice to have found places like this when selection is so bleak in the area. Only problem is closes by 5pm, so I just go next door after for a pint and great food!

                                            1. Saw a sign in the window of the former Beanie's when I walked by today that it will be opening in May as "Small World Cafe". Hopefully the new owners won't spend all their time outside smoking like the last bunch.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: hoagy294

                                                They are putting this place together now, should be open soon, I passed by last night. Will even have a play area for the wee ones, apparently!

                                              2. I'm in the area too, and was saddened by Niche's death.

                                                HOWEVER... I noticed that for months now their notice is still up and there is no "for rent" sign up yet which makes me hopeful that maybe, just maybe, they closed for the winter and will be opening again soon now that warmer weather (and the pedestrians they bring) are now here.

                                                Hoping :)

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: Olivia

                                                  If you peek in the little cracks of the paper on the windows, you can still see their furniture there. It is an odd situation, closed but the landlord hasn't thrown their stuff out...

                                                    1. re: Olivia

                                                      The woman who ran/owns Niche owns the building, she is the landlord and so wouldn't throw out her own stuff.
                                                      We can still hope they re-open but it's a long shot.

                                                        1. re: hoagy294

                                                          That's REALLY interesting, since there was a "blame the landlord" rumour floating around when they suddenly closed (or, it seems, moved to a busier area).

                                                          1. re: embee

                                                            My understanding is that Gail Hawkins owns the building, operates her agency for people with Aspergers from the top floor (and it doesn't appear to have closed) and from her knowledge of the lack of service in the neighbourhood decided to open Niche. I guess the flood + poor ventilation added even more reno costs than she wanted to entertain.

                                                            1. re: hoagy294

                                                              Well, there's now a big FOR SALE sign on Niche so it ain't reopening. Sigh. I liked that place.

                                                  1. I saw a "For Sale" sign up on The Niche's window today. Oh well.

                                                    1. There's a new coffee place on Coxwell up closer to O'Connor right next to Hollinger's, forget the name, something like Karma? The Coffee Time across the road has closed, no loss. And on the east side, north of the liquor store, there's a new rotisserie chicken place called Kousina or Kouzina (or something like that).

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: JamieK

                                                        The coffee place is Karma Kafe. It's the former Earth Grounds, which Ed sold to a customer last month. It probably wasn't the best time to change the name, since Earth Grounds had just received a surprising "best conscientious coffee" citation from, of all publications, the North Toronto Post. I don't think the new owner plans any significant changes.

                                                        1. re: embee

                                                          A bit further east is Seb's Cappuccino (1928 Danforth Ave). Excellent old school Italian joint making great espresso and cappuccino.

                                                          1. re: koknia

                                                            Is that the place with the take-out window? I was walking along and was amused by seeing something I normally associate with ice cream, so I got an espresso to go and it was very good.

                                                            1. re: Pincus

                                                              Yep, that's the place. Best $1 espresso in town.
                                                              Try the cappuccino next time.

                                                          2. re: embee

                                                            I just went to Karma Kafe today -- the coffee was terrible. My partner and I both ordered regular coffees (we each had a different blend) -- it was so weak and watery that we couldn't finish it. The atmosphere was sterile (bright flourescent lights) and we just weren't feeling the "warmth" -- it's too bad as I was looking foward to a new coffee place.

                                                        2. I thought of this thread today when it finally dawned on me that the neighbourhood is teeming with Ethiopian places (i.e. Ethiopia: land of coffee). Surely some of the Ethiopian restaurants would be a good place to grab a cup? I know the coffee ceremony can be lengthy, but surely some of them have North American drip coffee too, or espresso-based drinks?

                                                          Also, noticed that Djerba Cafe (south side of Danforth, just west of Coxwell) has "Tunisian pastries" advertised (have no idea what they'd be like, but am intrigued!) so this could also be a good place maybe (i.e. coffee & pastry go hand-in-hand).

                                                          Plus, Enrat Market has take-out coffee--it's an Ethiopian store, so am thinking perhaps there's a good chance the coffee is decent? I'd just finished The Great Canadian Breakfast (donut and Tim's coffee) so wasn't in the market to test either out, but will definitely update this thread when I do.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Olivia

                                                            Is Djerba Cafe the same as Djerba Ladouce? Or just related?

                                                          2. Small World Cafe now appears to be open, but with hours that don't make a whole lot of sense (9-5 during the week). I was hoping for a local spot where I could grab a cuppa before and/or after work .... hopefully they're serious about these just being "temporary hours."

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: jeninewsbite

                                                              Seriously, that stretch of the Danforth is begging for a place that stays open until at least 10 and lets you sit down in a comfy chair and read a book while sipping coffee. And hopefully isn't one of the chains.

                                                              1. re: Pincus

                                                                I can't agree more. Small World Café is within walking distance of my home, and my husband and I just shake our head that it's never open when we're in a position to go. Too bad. Frankly, I don't understand how it could be possible to make a go of it with those hours; to whom are they marketing their store?

                                                                1. re: Pincus

                                                                  I like to support the independents, but honestly ... I'd be more than happy for a SC or a Sbux at this stage of the game. We're renovating our home in the area and are there for 12-hour stretches every weekend and we're at the point where we're taking breaks in the middle of the day to *drive* down to the Sbux at Leslie and Lakeshore. Gah.

                                                                  1. re: jeninewsbite

                                                                    Man, at least give Tango Palace a try at Queen and Jones. They're open until 10 or 11 most nights and are MUCH better than the chains.

                                                              2. Another vote for the Mercury. Tried it last week and the coffee was great.

                                                                1. Small World had a conditional pass on the door when I was there. It looked really cluttered inside.
                                                                  I don't miss Niche. I thought the service in there was crap. There were a few times in there when they wouldn't brew a pot of decaf and kept insisting that my wife buy a decaf Americano. I thought that was sorta BS. Then the owner badmouthed the neighbourhood in a Toronto Star article. Seeing as she is a property and business owner in the hood, I couldn't believe that she would say things about crack houses and massage parlours in an article in a national newspaper.

                                                                  11 Replies
                                                                  1. re: air621

                                                                    I tried to find the article in question, and came across this one instead:


                                                                    It raises some interesting points about what needs to be done to attract more businesses and young people to the area.

                                                                    1. re: SNACKeR

                                                                      Interesting article. Thanks for posting.

                                                                    2. re: air621

                                                                      I think this is the article in question and I don't really think the comments of Niche's owner constitutes bad mouthing the neighbourhood (the comment of the guy who runs the Hollywood Canteen on the other hand are not so great). http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servle...
                                                                      Niche always charged me for a regular coffee when they made a decaf Americano since they didn't sell decaf, I never got charged extra

                                                                      I went to Small World last weekend, their drip coffee was much better than Beanie's, which I always found to be horrible. I can't see them lasting since they seem even more disorganized than the Beanies family did, and they've got a bunch of different little foods which I doubt they'll be able to sell before the expiry date. I'd like to support them, but their hours make it impossible for me to get there any day but Saturday. Loved the children's play area though, and there is a change table, unlike the former incarnation with their no diaper changing signs.

                                                                      1. re: hoagy294

                                                                        I must've been mistaken and perhaps a little biased based on my wife's experiences.

                                                                        1. re: hoagy294

                                                                          I'm sort of a Small World loyalist, living right around the corner from it as I do. (I'm pretty sure I was their first customer, too!)

                                                                          It's a nice, family-run coffee house. They're working on expanding the hours; my understanding is that it'll be open until 8pm starting this coming week. Earlier opening would be really handy, especially for my wife who most often works very early.

                                                                          They've got a large variety of stuff, but the best is their Feminino (sp?) coffee and the chicken pesto panini. Both Mrs. HoserHead and I really enjoyed the latter (she's not a coffee drinker).

                                                                          1. re: HoserHead

                                                                            I have just become a huge fan of Small World. Went there for the first time this afternoon with my husband and 2 young children. The play area is so great that we got to have a quiet cup of coffee and adult conversation while the kids were very happy with the toys.
                                                                            The owners introduced themselves to us right away and made us feel very welcome. I was interested to hear the story of the Feminino coffee (co-operative of women who have suffered abuse/personal difficulties working together) and it was quite good coffee.
                                                                            We also really enjoyed the chicken pesto panini. I'm looking forward to trying the chicken pot pie in cooler weather. The brownie (Dufflet) I had was good and the cinnamon bun my hubby had was very tasty. Beth said that they only have them on Saturdays.
                                                                            They are now open 8am-8pm M-F and 9-5 on week-ends.

                                                                            1. re: cheesymama

                                                                              Any recent reports on Small World? Do they still have the play area?

                                                                              1. re: julesrules

                                                                                Yes, they still have the play area, the baked goods from Dufflet, and the assorted coffees and teas.

                                                                            2. re: HoserHead

                                                                              Just wanted to add a link to the Chow entry for Small World Cafe.

                                                                              Small World Cafe
                                                                              1775 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4C, CA

                                                                              1. re: HoserHead

                                                                                Finally got to try the coffee at Small World and I have to say, it needs work. I had the lady make mine and she didn't seem too confident on the machines. She referred to the single shot of espresso as a double (although it looked good and had a nice crema on it) I had to ask for another "double" to make my cafe latte strong enough. Personally, as ideal coffee at Queen and Ashdale is closer, I'll go there instead, but it's good to see these guys doing well. I hope they can be as good as Beanies was for coffee.

                                                                          2. re: air621

                                                                            Niche's weekend brunch service was truly awful. I walked out once after paying because I had to get to an appointment and had been there 25 minutes waiting for one of their grilled cheese sandwiches. Man, those were good grease slabs...