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Best cappuccino in Oakvile or T.O.??

Merriam Apr 18, 2008 01:07 PM

Ciao chowhound-ers!
I've just come back from a trip to Italy and am craving some seriously good cappuccino (which was *heaven* in Rome!), anyone have any good suggestions for places around Oakville, or downtown TO (definitely willing to ride the GO train for a good cup)?



  1. sylvrgirl Jun 19, 2008 02:50 PM

    Reviving this 2-month old thread to see if Merriam had any luck checking some out the suggestions we made.
    I still stand by Mercatto serving up the most authentic Italian Capp in TO.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sylvrgirl
      dmaharaj Nov 26, 2011 09:12 AM

      sylvrgirl, have you tried Sam James on 297 Harbord Street? It's a really small espresso joint, but worth the trip. Given your appreciation for good cappuccino, I encourage you to try it and let me know what you think. I tried Mercatto's capp and enjoyed it. But I also seemed to think that this one is on par. Cheers.

      15 Toronto Street, Toronto, ON M5C 2E3, CA

      1. re: dmaharaj
        elvisahmed Nov 28, 2011 12:35 AM

        My Top 4 are in no particular order are 7 grams, Bisogno, R Squared and Redline

    2. s
      solabusca Apr 22, 2008 07:29 PM

      I'm kind of surprised that no-one's mentioned Cherry Bomb Coffee out on Roncesvalles. One of Manic's top baristas, Sam, learned everything they know at CB.


      3 Replies
      1. re: solabusca
        Ender Apr 23, 2008 10:04 AM

        Umm I'd check your facts before you speak, Cherry Bomb and Sam's skills are not really related at all, but its not my place to be speaking for him.

        1. re: solabusca
          detritus Apr 23, 2008 02:48 PM

          I can't say whether Sam learned his skills there or not... but he certainly didn't leave many behind.


          1. re: detritus
            happyaccidents May 9, 2008 12:33 PM

            solabusca, I think that comment does a real disservice to Sam and Manic. It's fair to say he got his start at CB, and that they planted the seed, so to speak, but I wouldn't go much further. Judging on comments made by some of CB's regulars, it sounds like they are laying claim to Sam's achievements after his move to help start up Manic (unfortunately the word "poaching" has come up more than once, a spurious claim to be sure). I detect a similar sentiment from your post, and it's patently ridiculous. Matt has invested so much in his baristas, even sending Sam to Chicago to train prior to the shop's opening. Leading up to the 2007 Canadian Barista competition, Sam (having begun work at Manic) even offered to train CB's entrant as a friendly favour, but was rebuffed. I worry sometimes about the misinformation spreading around this city.
            - Nick B

        2. Ediblethoughts Apr 22, 2008 05:27 PM

          So I'm curious--has anyone tried the latte/caps at Whole Foods. I've tried the mochas and the espresso flavour that shows through in the mocha is very good.

          1. atomeyes Apr 22, 2008 01:55 PM

            not sure how someone can't fall in love with Mercury.
            let's see....
            organic milt.
            biodegradable cups.
            feature beans from different areas.
            fair-trade coffee.
            no pretense.

            and they have some of the best lattes in the city, if not the best.

            i was a big fan of the Drake when they opened, but their beans now suck and their baristas know more about looks than espresso.

            4 Replies
            1. re: atomeyes
              goodcookiedrift Apr 22, 2008 03:00 PM

              Atomeyes, thats generally the mantra of all third wave shops. And not to nit pick, but many of them deal in direct trade not fair trade which is far more beneficial to the farmer(s).

              1. re: atomeyes
                currycue Apr 23, 2008 09:22 AM

                I was a regular at Mercury...until they changed their beans from Dark City to Intelligentsia. Not as good IMHO. Don't get me wrong, they're still better than Starbucks, but now I won't be going out of my way to go there.

                1. re: currycue
                  Ender Apr 23, 2008 10:02 AM

                  Really? I think the Intelligentsia beans destroy the competition outside of the best 49th parralel is shipping. There espresso especially.

                2. re: atomeyes
                  petra_reuter Nov 28, 2011 07:48 PM

                  I think we've been to two different Mercuries. I've been there a few times and never have I had coffee with such a huge side of attitude as I get there. It really turned me off the place which is a shame because the coffee was quite good.

                3. sylvrgirl Apr 21, 2008 11:51 AM

                  Alright, so after hearing that Manic blows Mercatto's Capp out of the water, I stopped by this afternoon and ordered myself a regular Cappuccino.

                  Unfortunately, I was disappointed. Let us keep in mind that we each have the right to our opinion here, so it's nice to hear about each other's opinions on the best Capp in the City.

                  I stand by my opinion that Mercatto so far, serves the closest Capp to one in Rome, Amalfi, Florence, Venice or even Milan. Having spent 6 weeks all over Italy during the last 3 years and enjoying a Capp every morning, I can do a real taste test comparison.

                  My observation on the Capp @ Manic: too milky, not enough froth and slightly bitter. It was too closely made in a Latte style.

                  Ah well, off to B Espresso sometime this week and see if it compares to a real Italian Capp.

                  22 Replies
                  1. re: sylvrgirl
                    goodcookiedrift Apr 21, 2008 01:20 PM

                    Hey slyvrgirl, thats mainly what i was getting at. Those who really prefer traditional capps over the thirdwave style more often and not don't take too well to the latter. They very much ressemble latte's.

                    Thats too bad that you didn't have a good capp there. In spite of being third wave, they use the same amount of milk as a traditional cappucino and they are extremely meticulous about the espresso being perfect (I've seen them throw out bad pulls). Maybe the barrista just had a bad pull on that shot. Anyhow, hope that you find a good cap!

                    1. re: goodcookiedrift
                      Ediblethoughts Apr 21, 2008 03:13 PM

                      I have very limited experience with the third wave style shops you're describing (because they're just not convenient for me to get to) except for Jet Fuel (which I love!). So let me ask: I don't like the more milky types of concoctions I've had in some places--I want the (smooth) dark edge. So is third wave more likely to be more milky? I also always thought the difference between a cap and a latte was major foam on the cap and the latte had very little (so while I like foam, I always get a latte, esp. when it's to go, since I've found caps can sometimes be half foam---not much to drink there!).

                      1. re: Ediblethoughts
                        detritus Apr 22, 2008 06:01 AM

                        Strictly speaking, I don't think many people would consider Jet Fuel a third-wave shop.


                        1. re: detritus
                          Ediblethoughts Apr 22, 2008 03:36 PM

                          Is it because of the quality of espresso used at JF that it's not considered third-wave? Or is there some other difference here?

                          1. re: Ediblethoughts
                            detritus Apr 22, 2008 05:17 PM

                            I don't know of a really precise definition of third-wave. My issues with Jet Fuel are the quality of the beans/espresso and the expertise of the baristas. I haven't been in a while, but I've never really been happy with the espresso there taste-wise, and while I think I recall theodd attempt at latte art, I don't think espresso was ever good enough, nor the milk properly frothed to do a proper job.

                            Maybe things have changed though, it's been a while.


                            1. re: detritus
                              Ediblethoughts Apr 22, 2008 05:24 PM

                              Fair enough. I haven't tried any of the official third wave places you guys have listed here--but I have tried a whole lot of different coffee places in Toronto. And I know I'm usually not impressed. But I really have liked JF--though I haven't been there for at least a year or maybe two. Still, if I compared JF's beverage with the 3rd wave places you guys are raving about, then maybe I'd adjust my thinking.

                              1. re: Ediblethoughts
                                detritus Apr 22, 2008 06:28 PM

                                Seriously, go to Manic. Run. If you can't get there, go to Mercury. Those two are, IMHO, still quite a bit ahead of the other shops (Dark horse, The Common, Cherry Bomb, Ella's Uncle, etc.) that often get mentioned here.

                                Not that those other shops are bad... they're just not *great*.


                                1. re: detritus
                                  Ediblethoughts Apr 22, 2008 07:15 PM

                                  I definitely will get there eventually---Manic and Mercury as a minimum.

                        2. re: Ediblethoughts
                          goodcookiedrift Apr 22, 2008 08:52 AM

                          The term dry and wet cappucinos get thrown around a lot, which a lot of barristas cringe at. But dry caps (the ones with a lot of microfoam) are more of the traditional ilk. While wet caps, (the ones with less microfoam) are pretty much identitcal to latte's except for portion size. And they come with latte art to boot.

                          You are right though, a lot of poor dry caps are usually half espresso and half foam. A proper dry cap should be equal parts espresso, milk and foam. Johnny at Cherry Bomb pours a pretty good dry cap.

                      2. re: sylvrgirl
                        futronic Apr 21, 2008 06:57 PM

                        Who was pulling your shots? Samuel and Emma are the best two there, in my opinion.

                        I was there this afternoon and one of the other baristas took care of my cappuccino and it wasn't up to the usual standard.

                        Sorry to hear you didn't have a good experience. Usually it's spot on. Then again, mine was a little off today too. Usually I don't even need to add sugar.

                        1. re: futronic
                          sylvrgirl Apr 22, 2008 05:20 AM

                          I didn't catch his name...but it was a tall young guy. A girl with reddish/orange hair was assisting him with steaming the milk.
                          Looks like yesterday was an off day at Manic. :-(

                          1. re: sylvrgirl
                            Ender Apr 22, 2008 05:41 AM

                            Yesterday so so not an off day at manic. I had shots through the day that were so banging out of the Syneso that I wondered what tweaks had been done. However to each their own.

                            If you have a problem with a shot or pull at manic all you have to do is say something and they'll repull it. I've had Sam refuse to let me drink a machiatto because the the temperature was slightly to hot.

                            1. re: Ender
                              sylvrgirl Apr 22, 2008 06:31 AM

                              That's right, to each their own, like I said above.
                              In any case, I favour a true Italian Capp, like the many I had the luxury of experiencing while in Italy.
                              When I order a Capp, it should be as such and not made like a Latte.

                              1. re: sylvrgirl
                                goodcookiedrift Apr 22, 2008 08:57 AM

                                The common misconception that latte's are different than cappucinos when in reality, the only thing difference is the addition of a mushroom of microfoam for the caps. Third wave cappucinos (properly poured) have the same amount of milk and microfoam. The only difference is that the foam is somewhat surpressed and made into latte art.

                                1. re: goodcookiedrift
                                  Ediblethoughts Apr 22, 2008 03:40 PM

                                  Now that is what I'd thought (minus the info on latte art) going into this!

                                  1. re: goodcookiedrift
                                    sylvrgirl Apr 22, 2008 04:48 PM

                                    I will have to disagree here, based on my experiences in Italy.
                                    A true Capp does not have the same amount of milk in it as a Latte does. It should have very little in it, actually.

                                    Tomorrow, I'll be droping by B Espresso to see how it measures up.

                                    1. re: sylvrgirl
                                      sylvrgirl Apr 23, 2008 06:07 AM

                                      As promised, I dropped by B Espresso this morning and would have to say that it sure beats Manic. It was very nice and a smooth finish.
                                      My observations on the Capp @ B Espresso: foam to milk ratio was good and the espresso had a great aromatic taste.

                                      Bonus for B Espresso: delicious little biscotti's, even one I've never seen elsewhere...Nutella!

                                      From a Toronto perspective, my heart still belongs to Mercatto's Capp...I will continue my search though.

                                      1. re: sylvrgirl
                                        Ender Apr 23, 2008 10:03 AM

                                        LoL well, as the saying goes, there's no accounting for taste.

                                        1. re: Ender
                                          sylvrgirl Apr 23, 2008 12:10 PM

                                          So true Ender, so true.

                                2. re: Ender
                                  futronic Apr 22, 2008 07:26 AM

                                  I didn't find my cappuccino too milky, but the microfoam wasn't as silky as it usually is. Then again, I'm nitpicking.

                                  It was still better than 90% of what goes down in this city.

                                  sylvrgirl, I'm not exactly sure what you're looking for in the cappuccino. I find the microfoam here to be way better (it's often too foamy at places I've been to in various places in Italy) and the consistency of the shots to be better. Ender is right in the fact that Matt has the machine PID'd out the wazoo, so generally speaking the shots are fine.

                                  1. re: futronic
                                    currycue Apr 22, 2008 09:02 AM

                                    Definitely up for giving Manic a try. So far my favourite is: Louie's in Kensington market. I deal makes great coffee, but I prefer using their Princess of Darkness blend to make my own rather then their lighter, espresso roast.

                                    Gosh I miss Dark City on the Danforth!

                                    1. re: currycue
                                      peppermint pate Apr 22, 2008 11:47 AM

                                      I'm a huge fan of Louie's - there is no single better spot in this city for great coffee atmosphere than a stool at Louie's. If you like their coffe, I think you'll really love the ones at Manic.

                          2. dannyboy Apr 21, 2008 10:36 AM

                            I drive across town to Bulldog off Church every weekend for a latte or cap, this guy is awesome best i've had in town so far.
                            Coffee Tree is good as well and Balzacs too

                            1. g
                              goodcookiedrift Apr 21, 2008 09:36 AM

                              There's one thing to remember about Manic, Mercury, Dark Horse, etc. Those are all third wave coffee shops and a third wave cappucino is very different than a traditional Italian cappucino. The portioning is the same, but the milk frothing is very different. Its like the difference between dim sum at Rol San and dim sum at Lai Wah Heen.

                              Personally, I prefer a 3rd wave cap over the traditional ones. Silky smooth and full bodied.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: goodcookiedrift
                                gastronom Apr 21, 2008 09:58 AM

                                yes def true. i am a huge capuc fan, and I have yet to find a true italian style one in toronto.

                                that being said, the "3rd wave cap" choices are good. personally
                                bull dog and manic are top 2. other mentions are Le Gourmand, Dark Horse and Jet Fuel (though order a machiatto if you want a capuc)

                                1. re: goodcookiedrift
                                  peppermint pate Apr 22, 2008 11:51 AM

                                  I tend to order more lattes than capps - for lattes, I put Manic at #1. For capps, I actually like Bar Italia and Terroni.

                                  Curious as to the expression "third wave" as I've never heard it before. What does this mean exactly?

                                2. Merriam Apr 21, 2008 06:53 AM

                                  thanks for all the suggestions folks! Will definitely try Manic and B Espresso and report back...

                                  1. littlegreenpea Apr 20, 2008 06:54 PM

                                    My fav is at Gato Nero (College, two blocks east of Ossington).

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: littlegreenpea
                                      janetzuccarini Apr 20, 2008 07:42 PM

                                      I lived in Rome for 8 years and my father brought the first espresso machine into Canada. My vote for an authentic cappuccino experience would be at B Espresso Bar on Queen Street - ask Bruno to make it for you.

                                      1. re: janetzuccarini
                                        futronic Apr 20, 2008 09:16 PM

                                        I'm at b! almost every morning as it's close to my office. I also enjoy the coffee there. It's much more Italian in its styling (very similar to IllyCafe in a concept). Alessandro great behind the bar.

                                    2. sylvrgirl Apr 20, 2008 05:40 PM

                                      I was in the same boat a few months back and thankfully, I'm delighted with the Capp @ Mercatto. Their Latte's are also quite delicious and well made.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: sylvrgirl
                                        futronic Apr 20, 2008 06:47 PM

                                        Personally, I think the cappuccino at Manic blows Mercatto out of the water. Dark Horse is great too. Not as big on Mercury, even though it is quite popular on the board.

                                        1. re: futronic
                                          artificialard Apr 20, 2008 07:42 PM

                                          Agreed, Manic is one of those places that has exceedingly high "standards and practices", no doubt the best place to get any coffee in the GTA.

                                          Have to disagree with Gato Nero, a friend raved about it but upon trying it found it to be not bad, but not great either. Same for their panzerotto.

                                          1. re: futronic
                                            sylvrgirl Apr 21, 2008 07:23 AM

                                            Hmmm, well I do like a challenge, so will get myself over to Manic this week to see how it compares to Mercatto.
                                            I will report back...........

                                        2. f
                                          futronic Apr 18, 2008 10:04 PM

                                          Manic Coffee. College St, just east of Bathurst.

                                          That's all you really need to know. :)

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