First I drink the coffee, then I do the things.
Besides seeing this popular turn of phrase written across a host of inviting blackboards — all of them perched outside many of Toronto’s most buzzworthy coffee shops — it’s actually become something of a daily motto for me. Especially as the deep freeze of winter continues to set in. And since I’ve been doing this job for over a decade (11 years now!) and any given day could find me killing time between showings in any given neighbourhood, I’ve naturally developed quite the roster of cafes to keep cozy in during the winter months.
Here are just a few current favourites where you’re likely to find me holed up within until spring arrives … and I make the move to their patios!
Arvo Coffee (Distillery District)
What’s not to adore about Arvo? I mean, for one, it doubles as both a cafe and flower shop. And secondly, its exposed brick walls make for a gorgeous backdrop, especially while warming up over one of their seasonal, single origin coffees.
Boxcar Social (Summerhill)
Okay, I’m impartial to this location of Boxcar because it’s a hop, skip and jump from my office. But thank heavens for that! Not only do they offer a curated, rotating list of coffees from the best roasters in the world, but also a careful selection of of some of the world’s top wines, craft beers and whiskies. What can I say, sometimes this place calls for an after-work fix when the snow is pelting down!!
Dark Horse Espresso (Canary District)
Unique lighting, plenty of seating and a wood-paneling throughout — yup, the inviting interior is as good as the coffee.
de Mello Palheta Coffee Roasters (Yonge & Eglinton)
While this specialty coffee roaster has a downtown cafe on Richmond West, I tend to favour the midtown location. Both drip and slow bar options are offered, and each roast employs a variety of brewing techniques.
Early Bird Espresso (Queen West)
Uncomplicated and unpretentious — just two reasons I always drop by Early Bird when I have showings down in Queen West, especially when it’s below zero out. Incidentally, the beans brewed here are sourced by a variety of local and international roasters.
Fahrenheit (2) Coffee (Richmond Street West)
Small and quaint, this place is amazing for a quick yet tasty almond milk latte and vegan sweet on the run … not to mention the owners are so friendly offering a family ‘Cheers’ vibe. I always leave with a smile on my face.
Goldstruck Coffee (Yorkville)
Love, love, love the relaxing atmosphere here, in addition to their handcrafted coffee. In fact, the awesome light fixtures are the kind of decorations I often encouraged my clients to consider for more industrial spaces.
Propeller Coffee (The Junction)
The Clover brewing system is the highlight of this Junction Triangle roastery and cafe. It produces a single cup of high-quality coffee at a time, thereby squeezing supreme quality out of every bean.
Safehouse Coffee (Brockton Village)
A relatively new addition to Dundas West, the first-rate coffee is amplified by one of the most Instagrammable tile floors in the whole city. Warm your fingers up by wrapping them around a cappuccino, then get posting!
Strange Love (Rosedale)
While I did enjoy the White Squirrel that used to occupy this location, Strange Love has made for a brilliant replacement. And I mean brilliant literally — these guys re-engineer their water based on MIT research to produce a mineral formula, then subsequently brew what I deem a perfect cup of joe.
Rooster Coffee House Broadview (Riverdale)
Offering iconic city and park views, this spot is definitely a staple. Though I often sit on the patio in the warmer months, I also enjoy sitting inside in the winter months on the vintage couches or at the window seats sipping on my coffee while watching the park activity. It’s a regular pit stop for me no matter what time of year …
Te Aro (Leslieville)
One of the many things I admire most about this Leslieville cafe is that they serve their own house label of Pilot beans. Yum!
mmmmm, I love coffee …