Toronto is a vibrant, multicultural city full of art and adventure. There’s a lot to see, but exploring a new city can be hard work. Sometimes, all you want to do is chill by a window and sip a cup of coffee. Do it. You can take in the sights with some of the city’s best coffee at these downtown cafes. From west to east, here are five specialty coffee spots to check out.
460 King Street W.
Quantum Coffee is a new specialty coffee shop that doesn’t take itself too seriously. They keep the single origin pour overs going with the Poursteady bar (Canada’s first), and they have quite an impressive selection of different coffees to try. Another perk is that Quantum’s coffee is locally roasted. The layout is a little odd, but I’m sure it’s meaningful. There’s high top seating around the big windows that face the street, and the back part of the café is suitable for reading, writing or a quiet conversation.
245 Queens Street W.
This coffee shop is small with a sparse, industrial chic décor. Featuring deep roasted beans from local roasters Detour Coffee, the shop offers bold, flavorful drinks served in glassware that shows off the coffee’s beautiful color. Espresso drinks are prepared on a super cool Modbar system. Pastry offerings include gluten free options, as well as wraps and salads. Because the shop is small, it can get pretty loud, but the vibe is friendly with a neighborhood feel. The limited seating includes a communal high top and the floor-to-ceiling window allows for watching the street action in this hip neighborhood.
140 Yonge Street
This busy coffee shop has a French bistro feel. With knowledgeable baristas and coffee-serious patrons, Dineen is a must for the specialty coffee enthusiast. Try the cortado. Prepared with the signature Temperance blend of Brazilian beans, it’s strong, but smooth with a rich, sweet flavor. The coffee shop feels lively and loud. Seating is at tables and high tops and outdoor seating (in the right weather) that’s perfect for people watching, reading or checking your map.
161 Frederick Street, #100
This funky coffee shop’s walls are designed to look like coffee sleeves (which makes finding the restroom tricky). NEO features a selection of single origin coffees available via V60 pour over. Espresso drinks round out the coffee menu and the homemade roll cakes in a variety of flavors (matcha and red bean, matcha white chocolate, or orange and chocolate truffle) are prepared in-house. The coffee presentation is exquisite with a glass pitcher, dainty cup, and tasting card on a bamboo block. There’s not much seating but they make the most of the available space. You can expect friendly service from baristas who pay attention to the details. It’s a good spot for enjoying coffee and a book.
17 Gristmill Lane
An adorable, tiny coffee and flower shop in the quaint Distillery District, this whole place smells like coffee, spice and fresh blooms.There’s a handmade feel to the experience, including the carefully crafted espresso drinks and pour overs. Nitro cold brew is on tap. There are only a couple of tables inside and more seating outside.
The Distillery District is a fantastic plaza with art, specialty shops (food, coffee, spirits) and furnishings. It’s the type of place to have an outdoor yoga festival and craft beer tastings all on a Saturday afternoon. It’s off the beaten path (well, east of downtown) but definitely worth seeing.