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Great coffee in Toronto's west end

  • k
  • ksilk Apr 10, 2008 06:25 PM
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Hi Everyone,

I'd like recommendations for a good coffee joint in the west end - downtown please: Bloor or south, Bathurst or west. No further west than Etobicoke, please!

thanks,
K.

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  1. Let me be the first of many to say Manic Coffee - College and Bathurst. Just go. It's so damned good.

    -----
    Manic
    426 College St, Toronto, ON M5T1T3, CA

    2 Replies
    1. re: Wahooty

      Manic is awesome!!!!

      1. re: foodlovinpooch

        I should qualify that I always get something out of the Clover at Manic, and have had consistently good coffee. I can't vouch for lattes and such, which seems to be the direction this thread has gone lately. :) The one time I ordered espresso, it was excellent, but it was shortly after they opened, and the last I saw the woman who made it, she was working at Sam James.

        Also, there's a new place on Queen a block east of Ossington (only a few weeks old, I think) called Cloud. Only been once so far and it was right after they opened, but the brewed coffee was very good, and my companion said their latte was also good. They were off to a rough start with their baked goods, but they may have gotten their act together by now. Just about the friendliest staff I've ever run into, as well.

    2. Cherry Bomb on Roncesvalles just north of Queen makes fantastic coffee....eapecially espresso. v small though, so not really a sit down place.

      1 Reply
      1. re: DDD

        Cherry Bomb's espresso-based drinks are really hit-and-miss, depending on who's behind the machine. Sometimes great, but sometimes the espresso is poorly extracted and the milk is not properly frothed (too foamy, not real microfoam).

        Baked goods are great though.

        -Josh

      2. I like Manic coffee too, check it out. Also, The Common at College & Gladstone. Excellent coffee.

        1. I third Manic. Once you go few other places will measure up. And it's worth buying Intelligentsia beans for use at home.

          1. Manic Manic Manic. It's to coffee what Momofuku's is to Ramen.

            1. Terrific! I'll try it tomorrow morning and report back.

              K.

              4 Replies
              1. re: ksilk

                If there's one thing you have to try is the coffee from the clover. Its unlike any coffee you'll have tried. Yes they will shoot you dirty looks if you put milk and sugar in it.

                1. re: goodcookiedrift

                  I back up Manic. It is a great spot and the owner really knows what he is doing. Cherry Bomb is also one of my newly found favourites. THis place just has a good vibe. Really nice people work there.

                  1. re: goodcookiedrift

                    How much is the clover in Toronto? When I went to Seattle, it was nice being able to get clover coffee for the same price as a regular cup of coffee at Starbucks.

                    1. re: neilfenton

                      The Clover is at a premium price here, but worth it. Not super high, but higher (forget the exact price, but under $5.).

                2. How about The Green Beanery right at Bloor/Bathurst?

                  29 Replies
                  1. re: Boodah

                    I love Cherry Bomb. Mitzi's (on Sorauren at Pearson) brews a mean cup of joe. Their muffins are also very yummy. In the Junction, there's a wonderful coffee spot on Dundas West at Québec. I can't remember what it's called but it's super-popular in the neighbourhood — really great coffee. What the heck is it called? This is driving me nuts. It has one of those really expensive giant espresso machines. They cost thousands!

                    Those are my top three cups of coffee around here!

                    1. re: Sarah Cat

                      It's called Crema. And yes, I agree that it's excellent.

                      1. re: poppygirl

                        Thank you!!

                        1. re: Sarah Cat

                          White Squirrel (across from Bellwoods park on Queen), Manic, Dark Horse on Spadina, Plus there's a really good one on Roncey (not Cherry Bomb, although that's okay too, this one is further up and relatively new - Jet?). Common on Dundas West.

                          1. re: Sui_Mai

                            Do you mean Lit on Roncesvalles? I don't recommend their espresso or lattes. Definitely avoid Alternative Grounds. Tinto isn't too bad (they use Birds 'n' Beans beans).

                            My current addiction is Birds 'n' Beans in Mimico (still in the OP's boundary, not that s/he cares since the post was in 2008). It's on streetcar and bus route.

                            I finally tried Blondie's in Parkdale a couple of Sundays ago. Pretty decent latte.

                            1. re: Food Tourist

                              FT ^- if you are near Birds n' Beans try Big Guys on Lakeshore just west of Islington.

                              I also recommend Ella's Uncle on Dundas w. of Bathurst

                              1. re: archive

                                Coffee Tree
                                2412 Bloor Street West
                                (East of Jane)

                                1. re: 5andman

                                  Have to disagree on Coffee Tree. Have only had coffee there twice. First time it was terribly watered down. I didn't hold it against them thinking it was a one off. I went again, picked out one they had on that day, and they made a point of warning me that that one was considered double strength and might be too strong. Turned out to be only a wee bit watered down. Still not great, but at least I got a respectable cup of coffee that time.

                                2. re: archive

                                  The Big Guy's Little Coffee Shop serves terrible coffee and their staff don't even know how to make a latte. What specifically do you like there?

                                  1. re: Food Tourist

                                    I only order the Americano's from Big Guys

                                3. re: Food Tourist

                                  Lit switched to "Stumptown" coffee beans. IMHO amazing coffee. Try the "Hair Bender".

                                  1. re: scarberian

                                    Thanks scarberian for the update. I will retry and report back.

                                    1. re: scarberian

                                      Okay, just to be sure, and at the risk of being too thorough, I did an almost head-to-head comparison - regular latte at Lit on Dec. 23rd afternoon, and a regular latte at Stumptown in NYC (Ace Hotel on 29th Street) yesterday afternoon, both consumed on the premises and not in a disposable cup.

                                      The Lit latte was overall quite bland, a 7/10 at best. Perhaps less milk would allow the flavours to shine but that's a bit doubtful.

                                      The Stumptown NYC latte (8 oz cup) -- made with Hair Bender blend-- was intensely flavoured, with a lighter lemon aftertaste. (Their tasting notes say Hair Bender should yield flavours of milk chocolate, caramel, jasmine, meyer lemon, apricot and pineapple!) I also bought a bag of freshly roasted Holler Mountain (direct trade and organic) beans for home use this week. They claim it will be more syrupy and heavy-bodied with dark toned notes of blackberry, raw tobacco and toffee. I can't wait!

                                      Something obviously gets lost in translation between roasting and final product at Lit. However, I applaud the use of "direct trade" beans as more and more people are realizing "fair trade" isn't all it's cracked up to be.

                                      1. re: Food Tourist

                                        I'm just guessing, but it seems that for sure the Stumptown NYC would get it right whereas the baristas at Lit are still learning (?). FWIW my wife and I only buy the beans at Lit and grind it at home when needed. I'll get the wife to buy the Hair Bender beans the next time she's at Lit (if they have any in stock!). Thanks for the comparison!

                                    2. re: Food Tourist

                                      I'm not crazy about Alternative Grounds, either. The coffee is weak and I found a hair in my cookie, once. I keep going back because everyone seems to love this place, but I just don't see the attraction. There are so many better options on Roncy!

                                      1. re: Sarah Cat

                                        Yes Lit (thanks Food Tourist) is the place and I think their espresso is fab. I'm glad less places are using the Intelligentsia beans, it has a dirty rather than sweet taste to the roast (at least the espresso).

                                        Lit had a name for my coffee but it's the same thing I always order: dbl espresso with just foam and a weeny bit of milk (Yes a cappuccino but everyone makes it to milky here). They had another name for it though...

                                        1. re: Sui_Mai

                                          Macchiato?

                                          1. re: FoodJourno

                                            You'd think, but no. It did sound Italian though.

                                            1. re: Sui_Mai

                                              Maybe a Cortado? I think it's spanish though.

                                              1. re: FoodJourno

                                                Cortado. That's it! thanks. what's the provenence I wonder?

                                                1. re: Sui_Mai

                                                  Cortar, is spanish "to cut", so as you are cutting the espresso with some milk = Cortado. Another word that sounds really cool in english, which is probably boring in its natural language.

                                                  1. re: FoodJourno

                                                    I just had a cortado at Lit and it just wasn't that great anymore. Maybe they changed the beans? It was prepared (at least the adding the milk part) perfectly, but there was no body or richness to the esspresso.

                                                    Just when you think you find a good coffee in this city....

                              2. re: Sarah Cat

                                Agreed that Crema is fantastic (they've got a Clover too). I live in the Junction, so I was thrilled when they opened! Not technically south of Bloor - but maybe Dundas counts? :)

                                1. re: watt

                                  Is it just me, or has the latte at Crema changed? It's 10 oz so a little heavy on milk for my tastes, but the flavour seems to have decreased overall.

                                  On the bright side, the helpful barista ("Fast-track to Sainthood...tip your barista!") willingly ground my high-quality coffee beans bought elsewhere. Birds 'n' Beans was unwilling to be helpful in that regard with me, a regular customer. Hmph.

                                  1. re: Food Tourist

                                    I have to say that one of my pet peeves is overly milky lattes and capps as you lose the whole coffee flavour - a lot of these places have the right proportions when you stay in to have your drink but their take-out cups are just too large. I know you can ask for less milk but sometimes I forget. I also hate paying for more than I want to drink. When I went to that place on Broadview, their smallest cup was waaaay big. But I think it's worth remembering on all of these coffee threads that whether you have your drink in-house vs. takeaway can make a big difference.

                                    1. re: peppermint pate

                                      Agreed. But I have noticed the opposite sometimes, where the dine-in cups are huge! Many places offer a small size take-out cup (e.g. 8 oz at Cherry Bomb and BIrds 'n' Beans). Places like Mercury and Crema only offer one size of latte - and both are too large.

                                      1. re: Food Tourist

                                        That's true too. I think this point alone may explain some of the discrepancies people have in their coffee tasting experiences at these different places - apart from personal taste (and the barrista that day, etc.), of course - it would be interesting for people to write which way they drank their coffee when posting on these threads. And of course, which coffee drink they had - I find there are WAY more spots to enjoy a good latte than a good americano, the latter being few and far between in this city (so many places just kill the crema, so sad).

                                        1. re: Food Tourist

                                          Not west end exactly, but Dark Horse on Spadina only offers one size of latte - 12 oz. Way too milky!

                                2. re: Boodah

                                  The Green Beanery, that is.

                                3. Sam James at Harbord and Clinton is fantastic! Wish I knew where he got his beans.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: dave_s8

                                    He gets his bean from a roaster called Toi, Moi & Cafe in Montreal.

                                  2. Not really a coffee shop, but Hoof Café makes great coffee.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: piccola

                                      Yes, their french press coffee from 49th in Van is really lovely.

                                      ---
                                      http://www.foodpr0n.com/ -- food. is. love.

                                    2. Not sure if this counts, it is West of Bathurst but North of Bloor.

                                      Whenever I go to Pain Perdu I always get a cup of their drip. It is always excellent. Not sure what their capps, lattes, etc are like. But if you are looking for a consistently good cup of coffee, Pain Perdu has it.

                                      Also, if you plan on going to the Green Barn on Wychwood, the is an organic outfit there that is also good. Unfortunately I can never remember their name.

                                      1. Hi there, one of my favourites is Aroma Espresso Bar, located at 500 Bloor Street West, near Bathurst. I am really picky about my coffee, and their java is awesome! This Israeli coffee house has great coffee, tea, pastries, and salads. Plus, when ordering any type of coffee, you get a free chocolate, too - nice little touch.

                                        1. Has anyone heard of a coffee shop called "The Good Neighbor"? Does anyone know where it is? Definitely in the Junction, and I think it might be on Annette.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: Atwood

                                            Have never been, but I did hear it was on Annette at Quebec. May even be right on the corner.

                                            1. re: Atwood

                                              On the way home from the service centre this morning, I needed to avoid the construction on St.Clair, and decided on Annette as an alternate route. Then spied "The Good Neighbour". So I just had to stop over and give them a try.

                                              In short, I liked it a lot. It is very similar to Crema (which is up the street at Quebec & Dundas). The coffee is from Intelligencia (same as Manic) and Oliver, the barrista, is obviously very passionate about the caffinated arts. The latte I ordered was fantastic, although next time I will ask him to make it a little hotter.

                                              They have only been open a couple of weeks. Currently they offer, pastries from Jules Patisserie, as well as cookies, butter tarts and the like from a local bakery (the name escapes me right now). Soon they will be offering grilled panini's (by soon, I believe that it will be within a couple weeks).

                                              What I like about it was the "openness" of it. While Crema is good, when it is packed you really have to squeeze by the seated patrons. At "TGN", while capacity may be less, I wouln't think that you would be bumping into people that seated, as you walk to the end of the bar to pick up your order. Although to be fair, they only seemed to be at about 50% capacity. The only critic I have about their layout, is that cream/sugar, etc, is at the opposite end of their espresso machine near the entrance, so if they are backed up with excess orders, then I could see the potential for bottlenecks.

                                              All that aside, the location makes "The Good Neighbour" a true neighbourhood spot (IMHO). Being on Annette it is a little off the beaten path, and seems like a great place to stop if you are just walking about the area (reminds me of the way Mitzi's is situated on Sauraren).

                                              And if you need to know, they do offer free WiFi.

                                              1. re: Lazar

                                                You had me at "reminds me of Mitzi's"!!!

                                                1. re: Sarah Cat

                                                  Sarah Cat, just to impress upon you, when I said it reminds me of Mitzi's, that only referred to their location relative the neighbouring residences. I do not profess that the establishments themselves are similar to one another in either cuisine or service.....damn, I should have been a lawyer.....

                                                  1. re: Lazar

                                                    Hahaha, I know. I just have a real soft spot for that Mitzi's!

                                            2. I just tried the coffee at Red Bean Espresso + Market which just opened at High Park and Bloor and loved it.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: dutchfoodie

                                                What previous business space did they take over?

                                              2. Check out The Bell Jar at Dundas and Howard Park. Just opened in the spring.
                                                Great coffee and fresh sandwiches. Very kid friendly too....

                                                1. Capital Espresso in Parkdale (used to run out of Blondies) has a great vibe and coffee is good.

                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: Sui_Mai

                                                    Holy Oak on Bloor between Dufferin and Lansdowne. Their americano is really rich and almost chocolatey. They sell homemade baked goods as well.

                                                    1. re: eatravel

                                                      Love this place. Good coffee, friendly staff, delicious brunch.

                                                    2. re: Sui_Mai

                                                      Is that where the VICE offices used to be?

                                                      1. re: jamesm

                                                        Yup. I think I just noticed that blogto just did a write up.

                                                        Capital is exactly what the neighbourhood needs. Hopefully a good wine bar isn't too far behind.

                                                        1. re: Sui_Mai

                                                          You don't like Cafe Taste wine bar?

                                                          -----
                                                          Cafe Taste
                                                          1330 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6K, CA

                                                      2. re: Sui_Mai

                                                        I like Capital Espresso. Decent amount of seating and they let me eat my Roti Lady takeout in store.