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Aroma Espresso Bar Toronto

Posted by Tanja / Posted on June 4, 2007

Aroma Espresso Bar TorontoWhen the Annex area JJ Muggs/JJ Albany's/Albany's finally bit the dust last year, I wondered what would take its place. The Bloor West & Albany Ave location is a big storefront with huge patio potential, so a new resto or cafe would be a shoe-in. Then again, the Annex needs another restaurant (let alone sushi place) like it needs another poor university student... there are already far more than this neighbourhood knows what to do with.

Still, sure enough, a few months and a huge renovation later, redundancy rules as Israeli import, Aroma Espresso Bar debuts to challenge American standard, Starbucks, and Canadian stronghold, Second Cup, on opposing corners of this caffeinated intersection.

I walk in and my first impression is, well... I'm impressed. The cafe has much better atmosphere and design than a stale Martha Stewart inspired Starbucks, and the almost Parisian red/black/chrome interior is a step up from Second Cup's various shades of le brown... though SC does score points for coziness whereas Aroma can feel a little too slick.

Every other table is appears to be equipped with a blogger of some kind (ok, just 'net-users, but who knows) as a free WIFI pass code comes printed on each receipt.

Aroma Espresso Bar TorontoFrills aside, let's talk coffee...

Unlike the major North American coffee shops across the street, Aroma is not banking on inventing new pseudo-coffee concoctions every month (as good as some of those might be). They're sticking with absolute coffee classics.

Aroma Espresso Bar TorontoThe chart pictured here, sits on the counter and while there is a real menu board up on the wall, this is about all the aide you need.

Yes, six types of espresso.
No, you aren't on Corso Italia, this is still the Annex!

As usual, I've brought some friends to sample the new place with me, so we put in our order and soon our names (yes, like they do at Lick's) are called out at the counter so we can pick up our order.

It's a nice personal touch (even if the spelling was a little atrocious) and perhaps better than someone shouting "MOCHA" and 3 people show up to debate whose cup it is. At the same time, the names are all printed on receipts -- one for you, one for them -- so there's a lot of paper going to waste. I hope they've got a grey bin behind that counter.

First up, a double espresso -- a solid kick of caffeine and flavour. Simple and likeable, I'd order it again, though I'm thinking the Turkish Coffee may be worth a shot next time I'm looking for a jolt.

Aroma Espresso Bar TorontoA large foamy Mocha is next and it looks great. When I can finally sneak a sip from my friend, I begin to understand why she's cradling it with such love. It's thick and blended really well. The testament to that is this photo:

Aroma Espresso Bar TorontoEven after drinking up some of the foam, a stir-stick still stands at attention in this tall cup of Mocha goodness.

You may have noticed the "Aroma" chocolate alongside that cup. It doesn't come with the Mocha, it comes with everything. Regardless of what you order, you get a solid little piece of milk chocolate on the side. Not a make or break item when choosing Aroma, but its nice to see that when you're paying a decent price for coffee (prices are similar to Starbucks in most cases) that you are actually getting that little bit extra in terms of quality and service.

From the non-coffee choices:

After tasting the chocolatey mocha, a full on Hot Chocolate was inevitable. This one had another friend just sitting there just taking in the aroma for a minute (how appropriate). While I poked fun, it's true, the smell of real chocolate, not bottle semi-chocolate syrup or powder, is a lovely thing.

Pictured at the top, you can see through the clear glass cup she's stirring, I wasn't kidding about the chocolate. Reminds me of the delectable Italian hot chocolate at B Espresso on Queen East.

Aroma Espresso Bar TorontoTea, on the other hand, was nothing to rave about, but it was good, reasonable priced (one price for any size) and the selection was decent (5-6 types). Hopefully they'll be adding even more though as Torontonians are used to having a pretty wild selection of teas to choose from.

Aroma Espresso Bar TorontoAroma also offers some fresh-baked pastries as well as sandwiches and salads (all made fresh in-house).

Pastry-wise, the cheese danish is a flakey kind of wonderful whereas the mini cinnamon bun was under-baked... a little hit and miss.

The sandwiches and salads I simply have not tried yet, though I was surrounded at other tables by monster salads that looked amazing.

Looking forward to your thoughts on their food offerings.

Aroma Espresso Bar Toronto
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Aroma Espresso Bar
500 Bloor St. W (Corner of Bloor & Albany)
416-536-7750

Discussion

47 Comments

Japhet / June 4, 2007 at 10:50 pm
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Those espresso are fairly standard at any high-end cafe but I can't wait to check this place out!
Trevor / June 4, 2007 at 10:58 pm
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Thanks for the great review, Tanja as I've been meaning to check it out. I think a Turkish coffee is on tap this week.
Gloria / June 4, 2007 at 11:22 pm
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Wow, looks slick. Will have to try it out some time.
Aaron Hertzmann / June 5, 2007 at 12:45 am
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It would seem more authentic if they'd spelled "macchiato" correctly on the menu.

Any improvement over the undrinkable espresso served by Second Cup and the relentlessly-synergized corporate atmosphere of Starbuck's is most welcome.
Crystal / June 5, 2007 at 02:15 am
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How are the prices?
Tanja / June 5, 2007 at 03:16 am
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Crystal, prices area mostly in sync with the other 2 competitors, with some items a little cheaper and some a little pricier... it's also a different price for large items if you stay or if you go (less paper cup means less denaro.. save the planet)

For example:
Espressos = $1.80
Canadian coffee = $1.40-$1.85
Mocha or Hot Chocs = $3.30-$4
Tea = $1.65

Johnny / June 5, 2007 at 04:39 am
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Right beside the cinema. What a treat!
Igor / June 5, 2007 at 10:42 pm
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been there, great
Abraham / June 6, 2007 at 12:56 am
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Wow, the first pic looks delicious.
dave / June 6, 2007 at 05:07 am
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went and had one of the sandwiches alongside one of the best cappuccinos I've had in a while. very impressed.
ricki / June 6, 2007 at 01:53 pm
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been there twice - coffee is truly great and so are the sandwiches and salads.
Darlene / June 6, 2007 at 02:42 pm
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I agree.. the coffee is amazing and I can't wait until they put some seating outside.

The only thing that put me off was the different prices for stay-in vs. to go. While the concept is very European, it just comes off as pretentious in a north american city, and if anything, encourages waste.
D. Green / June 6, 2007 at 05:21 pm
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Coffees rank with the best Italian places in town. Walk in to the wonderful feeling of fresh-baked breads. Ambiance and decor is sophisticated yet warm. Its the best on the strip.
Gary / June 9, 2007 at 07:50 pm
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The owners of this new coffee bar were smart. They located in an established coffee hot spot, steps away from four other coffee joints. They have a great product and great decor and will quickly dominate an established market. They need to bring on the patio ASAP.
Kar / June 17, 2007 at 07:08 am
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Their ice cafe's are the BEST! Last time I had one was late august of '06 in Jerusalem. I've had some serious withdrawal. So happy they've opened on in TO.
ida / October 24, 2007 at 06:11 am
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The best Hot chocolates on this planet and nothing can beat alfajores, try it you'll love it.
lexzi / March 10, 2008 at 11:45 pm
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Anyone know what time this place is open til at night?
Athena / May 15, 2008 at 01:16 am
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I like it. The latte is strong enough for my tastes, and just hot enough too (unlike Manic's, which is full bodied, but because they have it at exactly the right temperature if you don't drink it all in one go, it goes cold). For $3.10 a medium/regular latte I was very very happy (size & quality wise). It's easily in my top 10, maybe my top 5 if I sat down and thought about it. I'm factoring in price though.

And yes, the girl told me at the counter it was the Isreal Tim Hortons; it's one upscale one ^^ Definitely like the chic modern.
JenX / August 23, 2008 at 04:26 pm
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I've checked out this place. the drinks are delicious, and the service friendly+prompt. love it.
Sean / September 8, 2008 at 12:43 am
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The Caesar Salad is the best in the world. I have gone on long travels just to have it. And the place is such a good place to work if you have a laptop.
Niki / December 29, 2008 at 12:27 am
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I actually found it pleasantly surprising. The espresso was pretty good, above Starbucks watered down quality by far. I've noticed it's hard to get an espresso made these days from the old machines where people do some work- the new ones (Starbucks uses) are just a button and the espresso is too weak? I hope they open one of these near my work? ahhh yes, a good review. I even like the mini sized cookies.
/ January 2, 2009 at 04:17 am
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Their sandwiches and salads are amazing... I haven't tried the ones in Toronto but I assume that they would stay true to their Israeli partners...
Sarah replying to a comment from EyalMelamed / January 31, 2009 at 11:40 am
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They're opening one at the Promenade REALLY soon! I heard it's opening this week but not 100% sure.
yummmmmm / February 8, 2009 at 09:56 am
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I love this place...heading over there right now as a matter of fact....
Aroma replying to a comment from Sarah / February 9, 2009 at 11:21 pm
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I Hope it opens soon. Its Feb 9th and it still hasn't Opened. The mall looks great though.
Susan / February 18, 2009 at 02:40 am
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Great coffee, great atmosphere.

My only beef is...why haven't they gone fair trade with their coffee?

Aroma / February 18, 2009 at 02:47 pm
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The Atmosphere is amazing compared to before. I wonder why there is no fair trade. The service needs to speed up though. But I guess that great food and drink takes a while to prepare.
Caffeiniste / March 5, 2009 at 02:58 pm
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OK, I like Aroma, but the guy at the front counter just informed me that they have deliberately disabled the power outlets on the walls in the seating area so that customers won't stay after their laptop batteries die. Otherwise, "we would be paying you to sit here," he told me. I guess it makes sense from their perspective, and as a business model, but as a customer my first thought was that I could go across the street to Starbucks and get two hours' free wifi AND an outlet for the price of a coffee that is almost as good.
Leonard replying to a comment from meathole / April 19, 2009 at 10:11 am
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I like the place very much but GAZA STRIP is the taste which comes to my mouth through each sip!
Michelle / April 30, 2009 at 07:52 pm
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maybe you shouldn't sip
Beatrice / June 28, 2009 at 04:10 pm
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BEST CROISSANTS EVER!!!!!!!! FLAKEY, BUTTERY, PERFECTION
sarah ann / July 1, 2009 at 10:19 am
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so good, worth the 1 hour drive.
Please open more!!!
Marilyn Minden / November 1, 2010 at 10:28 am
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Wonderful Coffee. I had one of the best capuccino's ever. And I enjoyed a magnificent freshly baked chocolate cookie.
I will certainly return with family and friends.
John Reinhard / March 21, 2011 at 06:05 pm
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Shill" can also be used pejoratively to describe a critic who appears either all-too-eager to heap glowing praise upon mediocre offerings, or who acts as an apologist for glaring flaws.
Richard / April 18, 2011 at 08:25 am
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You should really take your "opinion" somewhere else.
David / May 1, 2011 at 12:53 pm
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Thanks, Ill go to aroma everyday now! Thanks John
Assad / September 25, 2011 at 11:08 pm
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AMAZING - try the Ice Aroma Lite

the BEST Ice-Cap type drink in the city!
rita savage / March 6, 2012 at 02:55 pm
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Your company and organization, in particular the new location at liberty village is really poorly managed. The managers are always without a smile, treat the employees without respect and need to be more aware of their bad attitudes. I will never go back there again. Poor managers and POOR service from them. shame on you
Tanya / March 6, 2012 at 07:30 pm
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Rita, sounds to me like you are an employee with without respect and you need to be aware of your bad attitude.
Her Majesty / November 24, 2012 at 04:25 pm
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Great place for lunch or light breakfast - great addition to Liberty Village and now Queen West near Spadina! Always efficient and prompt service with creative food options. Support a chain like this instead of Starbucks!
Tristan Laing / July 9, 2013 at 08:16 pm
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Aroma Cafe has at least one location in the illegal Israeli settlement of Ma'ale Adumim. Don't shop here unless you want your dollars supporting Israel's settlement enterprise.
Donna / July 14, 2013 at 03:51 pm
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Tristan- write something useful or don't write anything . Waste of time reading your comment.
Ryan L. / January 30, 2014 at 06:25 pm
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Alina, not one thing Tristan said makes him racist. Using that term to dismiss someone's opinion is justblow. The company may not represent the Israeli government; they represent themselves. And as themselves they've willingly put up a shop in a settlement that is counter to international law. Secondly, one of the founders himself had to pay a settlement to a former worker for unleashing a string of racial slurs when he mistakenly thought she was Arab. People have boycotted Chick-Fil-A for a lot less. Are those people bigots for not being accepting of the owner's homophobic views? Absolutely not. And Tristan is no more racist for being critical of the views and actions of one of Aroma's founders.

So, are you going to label me a racist or anti Semite now?
chris / February 3, 2014 at 03:25 pm
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Looks like it's gone deadpool. Windows are papered up today. I'll miss dodging strollers and being deafened by the malfunctioning speaker system.
Olga / February 8, 2014 at 06:55 pm
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Aroma on Bloor and Bathurst is definitely deadpooled. It's been gone since the first of February. I suspect it was the cost of rent. That's what's been forcing a lot of local businesses out. There are at least three other places that have either moved or deadpooled in the neighborhood, including KO Burger.
worker / March 14, 2014 at 11:53 pm
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I work at the one of the aromas and I just thought I would point out why the order gets repeated it is to ensure the correct order. our systems are very weird theyre updated often and the options change positions so it makes it harder for some of the slower cashiers to get use to button locations. Also it summarizes the order to be repeated as we ask for payment.
Long story short to prevent Profit loss when an order is wrong and needs to be corrected after being made.
nv / July 20, 2014 at 10:43 am
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Read somewhere that it has now been bought out by McDonald's. Wonder if all the posh people sitting at the Bayview Village AROMA know they are actually sitting in a MickyD.

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