In recent years, I have grown into a serious coffee lover. But it’s about so much more than a rich brew – it’s the whole cafe culture that has me hooked. I love to sit and sip a good latte (bonus if it’s topped with intricate, frothy art), while listening to chill music, watching other people chat or read in peace.
Everything slows down in my kind of cafe. I may have been in a rush two minutes prior, yet placing my order, knowing there’s nothing to do but wait and enjoy, never fails to promote relaxation and ease. Lucky for me, Toronto is dotted with dozens of unique and independent cafes. Admittedly, I’ve only had the pleasure of visiting a handful of the many wonderful options. Here is my list of favorites so far. My quest to explore TO’s ever expanding coffee scene has begun!
672 Yonge Street
Perfect for: vegan fare, relaxed meet-ups, proper lunch, occasionally live music
Take a walk down Yonge street and you’ll notice an overabundance of coffee chains catering to the bustling high rise workforce. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy a Starbucks Frap as much as the next girl, but I was longing for a cozy place to call my cafe-home. Cafe M was the long awaited answer to my caffeine coated prayers! With a rustic and eclectic interior, and plenty of vegan treats, I soon became a regular. The owner, Michelle, is friendly and almost always at the cafe ready to serve you something delicious. Recently the cafe has started hosting musicians on some Saturdays which draws a great crowd and fills the cafe with amazing community energy!
Balzac’s Coffee Roasters
789 Yonge Street
Perfect for: Meetings & meet-ups, access to all the books, easy access, vegan treats
Of the five Toronto Balzac’s Cafes, I’m a particular fan of the Reference Library location. I like to pick up a good read and then mosey over for a coffee + snack. After perching myself on a bistro style chair, I enjoy the natural light the pours in through the West facing windows in the early morning. Here, you’ll find most people keeping to themselves, with faces buried into books or with their laptops open as they finish up school papers and such. Even though this cafe is mere steps away from a Starbucks and a Tim Hortons, I always opt for Balzac’s airy environment and good selection of vegan desserts! (Did I mention “cafe” generally equals “indulge” in my books).
Rooster Coffee House
479 Broadview Ave.
Perfect for: Deep conversation, park + city views, board games, leisurly walks, sunsets
Rooster Coffee House is another cafe with more than one location in Toronto. Each has their own vibe, and I highly recommend the one on Broadview Ave. if you enjoy the comforts of a well loved home. The arm chairs are deep and soft, and friends will surely get lost in conversation of hours. I like to come here when I have time for the 10 min walk from Broadview Station – the houses facing Riverdale Park East are quite grand and lovely! If the weather is nice, tiny tables and weathered metal chairs are arranged to face the setting sun where you can see the warm hues of day duck behind the city skyline. You might feel as though you’re on a European side street without a care in the world.
983 Queen Street East
Perfect for: Leslieville shopping, summer patio lounging, lunch
Te-Aro in the East end is a trendy looking spot, with simply delicious coffee (beans c/o Toronto based roaster, Pilot Coffee). The ceilings are high and industrial; you’ll spot gem shaped wire lamps over the wooden bar by the cash. Guests perch atop bar benches or opt for the cluster of tables-for-two arranged in the center of the room. The ambiance is inviting but not intimate, so I choose this cafe for quick solo visits or professional meetings. The big seller for me is the large glass garage door that can be rolled up in the summer time. Try to score a seat under an umbrella on their patio!