I have always thought of myself as a bit of an explorer, a daring wanderer, a seeker of new adventures…
…When it comes to cafés. I LOVE cafés. I love the smell of coffee grounds, the smooth jazz, the barista’s funky hats, the comedic tip jars. I’m the kind of person who browses Yelp for fun—though I never write reviews—and I have an ever-growing list of new coffee shops to try on my phone as a result. The café is so versatile; you can chat with a friend, you can study, you can grab a bite to eat, you can Instagram the flawless latte art, you can work on that avant-garde-werewolves-in-space movie script of yours. The possibilities are endless! We are especially spoiled at UofT because we are surrounded by some very fine java purveyors. After all, the café is the university student’s natural habitat. Here are some of my personal favourites:
The Location: 102 Bloor Street West, in the back of Kit and Ace in Yorkville.
The Vibe: This place is gorgeous! It has a sleek and modern look and the chic clientèle to match. Their menu is simple, no frills or fancy syrups here, but I really enjoyed my black iced coffee. Since it’s attached to a store, it’s a pretty small space. However, there is enough space to set up shop if you feel like studying. Be warned: they don’t accept cash, only Debit or Credit.
Why I love it: Really cool selection of magazines, rose gold everywhere, promotion of local artists through their Signature Cups initiative—they partner with a different artist every few months to design their to-go cups!
The Location: 28 Kensington Avenue, in Kensington Market
The Vibe: The word fika is essentially the Swedish version of the coffee break; it is just as much of a social institution there as it is here in Toronto. The owner was inspired by her trip to Sweden when she designed this pretty little Kensington coffee shop in a converted, bright blue house. In the summer, there are front and back patios. They also do brunch on weekends!
Why I Love It: The book wall, the light-and-airiness, the cardamom spiced latte (yum!)
The Location: 235 Augusta Avenue, in Kensington Market
The Vibe: This place is so hip with its graffiti-covered exterior! It’s not ideal for long study sessions because it’s pretty small, but the prices are great and they offer coffees, teas, snacks, and ice cream. There is an adjoining candy shop with all sorts of exotic selections and there is a huge selection of coffee beans that you can purchase to take home.
Why I Love It: This place smells like HEAVEN; if someone made it into a candle or a fragrance, I would buy a lifetime supply of both without hesitation!
The Location: 37 Baldwin Street, a few blocks south of the Exam Centre.
The Vibe: This place has a decidedly studious feel, probably because it sits between our St. George campus and OCAD. The WiFi is fast and reliable and there are lots of outlets and places to sit and study. It doesn’t hurt that it also happens to be on one of the cutest streets in Toronto, in my humble opinion.
Why I Love It: Warm and cozy atmosphere, great music, the fairest matcha green tea latté in all the land.
The Location: 333 Bloor Street West, inside Willow Books near the Bata Shoe Museum.
The Vibe: This place is TINY, but adorable. It’s decorated to look like a science lab; all of the coffee beans and teas are stored in beakers and test tubes. There is no seating area, but you can always browse the bookstore while you enjoy your drink. They offer loyalty cards—every twelfth coffee is free—and a 10% off discount for UofT students.
Why I Love It: Great variety of coffee beans, funny signs outside, convenient proximity to a bookstore, delicious magic bars, the undeniable appeal of imagining your barista moonlighting as a mad scientist.
Go forth, my fellow caffeine fiends! Do you have a go-to spot? Let me know in the comments below and we can fika soon! Check out Amie’s picks from last year; I taught her everything she knows (re: Toronto coffee shops).
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