Here at Indie88, coffee is a staple. One might even say the life blood. After much debate, punctuated by everyone standing up for their local haunts, we agreed on (sort of) the ten best indie coffee shops in the city.
We had to cap the list at 10 so let us know who you think we missed.
Parkdale’s favourite café is located in the old Vice Magazine office on the southwest corner of Queen and Dunn. The drink menu has all your classic espresso drinks plus French press coffee, loose-leaf tea, and cold drinks. The freshly baked muffins are to die for – try the berry mascarpone if you’re lucky enough to make it there before they’re gone. The staff are really passionate about what they do, with over 10 years experience in Toronto’s coffee scene.
Owner Stuart Ross considers himself the godfather of the third generation indie coffee scene in Toronto. He’s had training from Canadian National Bartista Champions and won a few of his own titles. The small shop at the corner of Church and Granby offers all your standard coffee drinks and then some, often served with a bulldog design. The fresh baked croissants keeps the regulars coming back each morning.
This Cabbagetown gem is truly rock ‘n’ roll. With no pastries in sight, Jet Fuel’s motto is “if you only do one thing, do it well.” All beverages are served in tall pint glasses with long sundae spoons. A giant lemon squeezer sits behind the counter for fresh made lemonade or hot lemon and ginger tea. You can expect to enjoy your bevvy to the sweet tunes of The Stones and Bowie.
Sam James has become somewhat of a local coffee celebrity here in Toronto. From old school to new school drinks, James has many tricks up his sleeve. You can sample his fine work at one of three locations across the city: Harbord and Clinton, on the underground path at St. Andrews station, or in what was once a vault of a bank at Christie Pits station.
With four locations in the city, Dark Horse has become a café destination for Torontonians. They’ve mastered the staples of a great café with delicious drinks, tasty treats, reliable wifi, and rustic design.
You can sip Balzac’s coffee and sample their delightful pastries in the Distillery District and Liberty Village. With all the classics on the menu, Balzac’s also buys and sells fair trade coffee. The Balzac’s Blend keeps us at Indie88 going throughout the day.
Overlooking Riverdale Park in the East end, Rooster Coffee House has a homey vibe to it with a massive communal tree trunk table and big leather chairs you can sink into. This neighbourhood favourite brews one of the smoothest espressos in the city.
This modern café in Leslieville has one of the best patios a coffee shop has ever seen. Their coffee is “fresh, air-roasted in Leslieville” and supplies many of the neighbouring local restaurants. The food is also a must-try here with sweet, savoury and always fresh items.
Tango Palace Coffee Company
The coziest café in the east end, Tango Palace is the perfect place to grab a bite and satisfy your caffeine craving. Tango Palace has been around for seventeen years and remains a neighbourhood staple with its almost overwhelming amount of options.