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A good coffee shop to study at around Yonge and Bloor?

I was really excited when I first went inside Far Coast, the "independent-looking" coffee shop on Bloor and St. Thomas St, just east of University Avenue. Granted, it did belong to Coca-Cola, but man was it clean and bright in there. Coffee was good too, but above all, the 2nd floor was PERFECT for studying. Not too quiet to put you to sleep while studying, but uuiet enough for you to focus on what you wanted to do, and bright enough with large windows so you don't feel you're imprisoned and being suffocated at one of U of T's libraries (Robarts in particular).

Alas, the place was closed down a couple of months ago (someone told me Coca-Cola's moving it to the CN Tower??!?!), and I'm in search of a nice coffee shop for me to study in. The Lettieri in Cumberland looks nice but is too small and waaay too crowded. Tim Hortons on Yonge (just north of bloor) sucks, but the Second Cup (or was it Starbucks??) right beside it is OK (though I despise both chains, and in particular, their coffees).

So, any idea where a student can hit up some nice coffee shop to study at?

PS. I was in Halifax for more than a year while doing my Masters, and they had so many independent coffee shops over there that now makes me want to cry in Toronto. They were nice too: good coffee, nice furniture, great snacks and desserts, quiet, etc. Yesterday evening, Chuck Swirsky/Leo Rautins (the voice of the Toronto Raptors and the analyst sitting beside him) were saying how much Toronto is like a European city... YA RIGHT!

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  1. We have lots of independent coffee shops in Toronto, it's just that they are not located near Yonge and Bloor. Probably because the rent is so high that only chains would be able to pay the bills- hence the Starbucks and the Tim Horton's.

    The closest independent cafe would probably be Caffe Doria, on Yonge near Summerhill, or Patachou which is more of a bakery/cafe, but I'm not sure people study there. I wouldn't feel comfortable studying in a cafe/coffee shop with table service, but that's me.

    Some of my favourite coffee shops are in neighbourhoods such as Little Portugal, Roncesvalles(Tinto), Little Italy (Gato Nero), Greektown and Corso D'Italia.

    Indie options in other parts of the city: Manic on College near Bathurst, Moonbeam in Kensington, Balzac in the Distillery, Bulldog, Jet Fuel.

    2 Replies
    1. re: phoenikia

      Sorry I can't think of a spot to recommend but I can tell you that Caffe Doria and Patachou would not be appropriate for what you are looking for. Neither one would I consider to be a 'coffee shop'. They are both crazy busy lunch/dinner spots and I'm pretty sure someone drinking coffee and studying would be frowned upon.

      1. re: Mr. Millygirl

        There's also the Golden Mint coffee & tea shop on the east side of Yonge, north of Davenport. http://www.goldenmint.com/ They have sandwiches and sweets, and some seating inside.

    2. Problem is, you're looking in the wrong part of town, unfortunately. As for European, I don't think so, maybe to an American it seems more European. I too was impressed with the space at Far Coast, but felt uneasy at both the amount of money spent on the interior and the fact that the coffee came out of a big machine. When I found out it was Coke, I wished I could spit out my coffee after the fact. Glad to see the locals felt the same.

      Anyway, you need to go west to the Annex (Bloor/Spadina-Bathurst) There you'll find Aroma, Dooney's, Future Bakery and more.

      On College at Euclid, Kalendar serves great coffee, as long as you're there in the non-meal hours, you'll have lots of space and quiet.

      My favourite place is a place called Tango Palace, but it is on Queen E. @ Jones. Pretty far, but worth the trip if you're out there. They open late too.

      1. It's not quite a coffee shop, but I've definitely spent afternoons just drinking tea and working at Seven West (not a coffee drinker, so can't vouch for quality).

        2 Replies
        1. re: Rabbit

          Love 7 West but I find it too dark for reading and writing.

          1. re: Zengarden

            I've actually been hassled at 7 West for wanting to stay and study. This was in the mid-afternoon, when there were maybe 2 occupied tables on the whole floor. I was told sternly by a waitress that I either needed to order more food or leave. I haven't been back since, so I can't say if that is a regularly implemented policy, or I just got unlucky.

            p.s. edit, with a couple of other suggestions: Hart House is the best place to study on campus, I think. Big comfy chairs/couches in the ground floor rooms in winter; the quad in summer. If you haven't checked out the smaller libraries, some of them are actually pretty nice (I agree that Robarts is intolerable) - Trinity and Vic, in particular. There's a place on Harbord called Tik Talk, which I haven't been to in ages, but is cute and quiet. Kensington is full of indie coffee shops, probably most like the ones you were at in Halifax. As a general guide, I'd say the prospects are *much* better west of campus rather than east.

        2. croissant tree at Charles and Church might fit the bill, tables and couches with wifi and a big patio in the summer, the coffee is drinkable and they have espresso of an everyday variety

          1. Others may disagree, but how about the cafe of Wholefood Market? It's right next to the main entrance of the Hazelton Lane on Avenue. It's brighter than the sitting area attached to the Wholefood Market, but can get really busy during meal time. I have done some reading in there before.