Eminent 20th-century philosopher Jerry Seinfeld once opined that coffee was a beverage that could be obtained almost immediately anywhere at any time. Between the adequate sludge served up at Tim Horton’s and the over-pricey fare brewed at the ubiquitous Starbucks, Canadian urbanites are always well provided for when they need that jolt. Still, all coffees (and coffee shops) are not created equal, and every Torontonian has their own opinion on which establishment serves the best cup of java in this city. If your coffee tastes don’t run ‘double-double,’ here are a few downtown suggestions.
Almost obligatory on any list of great Toronto coffee is the Bulldog. Using a tasty (and secret) blend of beans, and employing a crack-team of baristas, makes for an excellent cup of coffee every time. Be warned: having to order here may leave a bad taste in your mouth, as the owner’s horrible attitude and commitment to espresso purism are the stuff of legend. If you’re willing to overcome the difficulties attacking the ’Dog, grab a brownie and a Bulldog (their cleverly created latté-cappucino hybrid). They’ll even dress your beverage up with their much-lauded latté art. We don’t quite understand why latté art is something people care about, but the staff at the Bulldog know their stuff. 89 Granby Street, 416-606-BARK.
If you push your way through the large colony of hipsters occupying the storefront and interior of this fantastic stop on the west end of College Street, you’ll be treated to one of the finest americanos this writer has ever tasted. Low-key, hip and always bustling, The Common is known in the area for employing skilled baristas that can make literally any coffee-based beverage your heart desires. Bad luck for anyone hoping to grab a bite, though, as food is limited to a small selection of baked goods. Even worse news for anyone who wants to have a latté without hearing a dozen people tapping out screenplays on their MacBooks. 1071 College Street, 416-546-7789.
E.L Ruddy Co. Café
Tucked in between a sea of Portuguese sports bars and clothing stores is this small vegetarian café on Dundas West. The place takes its name from whatever manufacturer used to occupy the space back when Dundas West was known for…well, nothing really. E.L Ruddy serves up tasty espresso (Ideal, if you know your brands) along with hearty Portuguese vegetarian fare. It’s a perfect first date spot if your date is into reading copies of McSweeney’s and hounding you to join PETA. In other words: Yes, you’re there for the coffee. 1371 Dundas Street W, 647-351-0423.
Toronto’s great cafés aren’t limited to that lair of hipsterdom that is the west end. East of the DVP is the delightful Rooster Coffee House, an excellent spot that boasts friendly service (and here I mean actually friendly rather than coffee-shop friendly), great drinks and plenty of local treats to make you feel right at home. The Rooster’s claim to fame is a variety of different roasts and beans, and this attention to quality ingredients means that if you’re grabbing a cup of drip coffee or sipping a soy-latté over a game of backgammon (boards on premises!), your cuppa is going to taste great. 479 Broadview Avenue, 416-995-1530.
Image courtesy of 5.0OG.