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Cafes

The Bandit Coffee Group

Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on September 22, 2011

The Bandit Coffee GroupThe Bandit is hoping to become a one-stop morning shop for the Upper Beaches and Danforth East communities. While on its opening day it offers simply coffee and baked treats, co-owner Kirk Stratakos tells me its roster of goods and services is soon to expand.

Bandit Espresso"We're going to a get a fridge," he says, pointing to a mostly-vacant wall, "and we'll have ready-made sandwiches and other things to grab-and-go." He goes on to explain that Bandit's vintage red carousel, currently occupying central floor space and offering take-home bags of coffee beans and loose-leaf tea, will shortly be stocked with other "convenience items" to keep you satiated throughout the day.

Bandit EspressoOf course, coffee and sandwiches isn't that usual. But dropping off your dry cleaning at the same place you get your morning espresso is. Bandit has partnered with TSC Wet Clean, an eco-friendly "wet cleaner" in Mississauga, and hopes to become a depot in about five to six weeks.

Bandit Coffee"We'll have garment bags here," Kirk says, laying out the concept, "and customers can drop off their clothes when they come by in the morning. The cleaners will pick them up each day and communicate with the customers via email, who can decide to have their clothes delivered to their home or back here."

Bandit EspressoKirk says the cost will be market price and the goal is simply to offer convenience to the customer. All things considered, I was pretty impressed with the idea, and asked Kirk where he came up with the concept. "Right here," he says, grinning, tapping on his forehead. I notice a few other sources of ingenuity I scan the café, including a refurbished worn door serving as a menu board, and an old wooden crate, which Kirk says used in shipping Bandit's espresso machine, repurposed as a table for the café's back armchairs.

Bandit EspressoKirk and his business partner, Tracy Loyson, wanted to keep the emphasis on local, so they've sourced their beans from Te Aro and tea from Steeped and Infused. The menu consist of typical drinks including espresso ($2.38), Americano ($2.86) and latte ($3.81), as well as the kiddie-cino ($3.05) of steamed milk and optional flavouring and baked goods from Cake Couture.

Bandit Espresso BarBarista Mike pulls a really great shot for my Americano, leaving lots of room for milk (regular, soy, lactose-free, or almond). While I usually leave the sugar out, I opted to try one of Bandit's infused sugars (I went for the jar with the vanilla bean), which I thought was a really nice touch. The coffee had a lovely bold flavour (characteristic of Te Aro's "big-bro") and finishes strong. The pleasure would only be improved, I can imagine, by unloading an armful of dry cleaning.

The Bandit Coffee Group offers free WiFi and is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day.

Bandit Espresso BarBandit Espresso BarBandit Espresso BarPhotos by Jesse Milns

Discussion

35 Comments

Brendan / September 22, 2011 at 01:42 pm
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I am elated to welcome Bandit Coffee to my old stomping grounds (excuse the coffee joke).

Although I don't live in the neighbourhood anymore, growing up at Woodbine and Gerrard could be dismal to say the least. Many of the commercial spaces along the south strip of Gerrard, west of Woodbine, went unused for years and had trash heaped high in the windows, or they were converted into slapdash residential units. Glad to see businesses are moving in again -- it's the healthy sign of neighbourhood growth!

Be sure to play nicely with the Upper Beach Cafe - the more the merrier.

Looking forward to dropping in for an espresso the next time I'm on my way to visit my folks.
Paula / September 22, 2011 at 03:42 pm
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Bring in some gluten free cookies from Bunners (or anywhere for that matter) and I'm there.
erik / September 22, 2011 at 07:45 pm
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It looks stunning! If you can tell me who did your general contracting, I'd like to you them for my offices. :)
Congrats on your hard work, no doubt it will pay off. Can't wait to have my first "americano... Half full" and bask in the sunlight through your vintage leaded glass facade.
Xo - well done!
Yodaddeo / September 22, 2011 at 08:00 pm
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Welcome to the neighborhood, Bandit! i'll be dropping off some items for dry cleaning this weekend!

Novel concept, and it'll have me as a customer.

Clem / September 22, 2011 at 10:57 pm
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Kind of like those buanderies in Montreal - coffee and laundromat in one. The interior looks real nice though, I like the floors.
Christian / September 23, 2011 at 09:34 am
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This place looks amazing! I can't wait to check it out!
Marc / September 23, 2011 at 09:34 am
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"Of course, coffee and sandwiches isn't that usual. But dropping off your dry cleaning at the same place you get your morning espresso is."

unusual. :)
Phil / September 24, 2011 at 11:51 am
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Love the place. Looks great, friendly service, excellent cappuccino! What a great addition to the neighbourhood.
Joanne / September 26, 2011 at 09:48 pm
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I have had the pleasure to visit Bandit! The coffee and service is wonderful! A perfect place to sip a tasty espresso as you browse the internet, gaze outside, or indulge in conversation! Congratulations!!! I'll be back!!!
Ellen / September 28, 2011 at 06:40 pm
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I visited The Bandit yesterday for the first time after I read these great reviews. I too had a great experience. My latte was wonderful, served with a foam heart in a cool glass. Really unique space. So lucky to have it open up in my neighborhood. I'll definitely be a regular.
Margy / September 28, 2011 at 09:39 pm
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The best coffee I've had in a long time! Looking forward to the baked goods....Mmmmmmmm
Ashley / September 29, 2011 at 04:09 pm
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Love the Bandit!! So glad I have somewhere cool to hang out and have my coffee.
Steph / October 7, 2011 at 11:23 am
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Had a terrible experience I believe it was Kirk who was working? It was as though I had put him out by coming in he barely even looked up and never even said hello
Kirk replying to a comment from Steph / October 11, 2011 at 05:08 pm
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Hi Steph
I am Kirk, one of the owners of the Bandit. Not sure which day you were in last week. I only work on the weekends typically.
Regardless, I am sorry to hear about your experience. I can assure you that my staff, partner and I, appreciate all of our customers business and feedback.
I will be working again on Saturday so you can come in anytime so we can make it right. You can also grab one of our business cards from the counter and contact me directly.
Sincerely
Kirk
Jill / October 29, 2011 at 10:25 am
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The best latte I've had in a really long time, and probably the best I've had in Toronto. My husband was cracking up over my constant exclamations. Reasonably priced too - for what it is.
All we need now is a butcher's, green grocer's and post office and this kooky neightbourhood will be perfect.
Who would have thought the best coffee in TO would be found in Woodgerville!?
Jan / January 4, 2012 at 08:59 am
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I love this place. There is space. There is beautiful art. And its amazing coffee just a few steps from my door.
Ed / January 15, 2012 at 07:27 am
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Unless I've forgotten how to tell time, Bandit is not open 7 to 7 daily. Their hours are inconsistent around opening and closing, while ther business hours are not posted anywhere in their window. Hit and miss. Nice place though and they serve a very flavourful espresso.
Kirk / January 26, 2012 at 09:39 pm
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Hi Ed,

Winter hrs as of December 1st to March 1st
Mon-Fri 7am-6pm
Sat-Sun 8:30am-6pm

Join our FB page for updates.

Thanks!

Kirk
(thebandit)
Chris / February 26, 2012 at 05:21 pm
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Friendly baristas, thanks!! Hours ARE a little spotty.... walked by 3 weekday mornings in two weeks at 7:05, with the dogs, and it was closed... interesting industrial/grunge feel, easy to warm to.... Surprised not to see more people inside enjoying, as we drive by.... you would be surprised how many Moms look for a clean, local spot to 'klatch' in when strollering... and if they can bring wet-cleaning with them, BONUS!! (How to attract them??) You mentioned live musicians once you got going.... might be a pleasant walkable destination on a Friday or Saturday evening...music, company, coffee/tea, edibles?? Great flyer in the door today...very professional!! BEST WISHES Tracy and Kirk!!
Kirk / February 28, 2012 at 10:54 am
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Thanks for the feedback and positive comments Chris. Although, we went through our video survaillance for 3 weeks back from your post for and we were open on time everytime. Maybe our staff forgot to flip the OPEN/CLOSED sign and thus the confusion.

We will be extending our hours very soon. Stand by.
kari / May 2, 2012 at 07:22 pm
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yeah, gluton free stuff may be a good niche,
seem like everyone,
including my wife,
is looking for it
Naomi / May 23, 2012 at 01:05 pm
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Great place and I love the new extended hours: open until 9pm!
Annie / July 13, 2012 at 09:18 pm
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Great place. Bad service. Maybe it was the same guy Steph had. He wasn't friendly, didn't make eye contact and looked like I was bothering him by being there. A smile goes along way.
Jodi Grossman / September 23, 2012 at 09:26 am
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The best coffee in town. Te nicest barrista's and a really chill, relaxed community atmosphere. Even my 10 year old son loves hanging here.
Jeff replying to a comment from Marc / September 29, 2012 at 03:08 am
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"are not that unusual"
Arby / October 26, 2012 at 02:04 pm
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I am surprised I didn't know about The Bandit. A regular at Voulez Vous mentioned it to me and dropped me off there when he left. I like that it's on the streetcar route. I also like Te Aro coffee.

I had a scone. The texture is funny. But it wasn't bad. The cookies are huge. Too big. I wouldn't want to fill up on a cookie, especially a soft cookie. I'm in a minority, I guess, when it comes to soft vs hard cookies.

My shot was good, but a wee bit sharp. I thought it might make a good americano and so I had one. I was right, although I detected a faint, and unwelcome, taste or smell of perfume. That's a BIG no no for an indie coffee shop. You do not contaminate coffee with odours of perfume or anything. It was very faint. But that's all it takes to kill the enjoyment of your coffee - if you're a coffee geek and care about that.

Bertrand was professional and friendly, even after I mentioned that the shot was good but a wee bit sharp.

The space is great by the way. Wifi is appreciated. Music? I would not want it to be any louder, especially when it's crash bang stuff. I don't know what was playing, except that it was rock and some of it was crash bang sounding. It sounded like 107 on the radio. It wasn't too loud, thankfully. I would have liked it to be even lower in volume.

Overall, this is a great spot. I'd add a bus pan for customers to put their dirty dishes into. No one wants to leave their dirty dishes where they've sat and no one wants to be in a line up just to put their dirty dishes where baristas are taking orders and cash. Don't you think?

This isn't the only indie shop where the owner(s) have that particular blind spot.
Jennai / January 13, 2013 at 12:51 pm
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Yes!! I have driven past a few times but am SO GLAD you carry TeAro! I am moving east and north for the first time in 5 years, and was heartbroken to be moving away from TeAro (I was there on their opening day, and most days since. They are on my doorstep) but with this being my ne closest non-chain shop I am elated I can still get what I believe to be the best coffee in town! Hurrah! See you all soon!
Lynn / February 4, 2013 at 10:16 am
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So happy to have this in the neighbourhood. Good drip coffee, locally-roasted beans and the muffins and cookies are great (not a fan of the scones, but that could just be me).
Chris / February 4, 2013 at 01:36 pm
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Hey Kirk!!Last 3 times we were in the music was CRASHINGLY loud, and sounded like late Saturday night grunge rock at its WORST. The first two times (all around 10am to 11 am) there were others in the coffee house, and as we left, our ears ringing, someone else was leaving who wondered why you (Kirk) didn't tell the barristas to turn it DOWN and have music in the BACKGROUND. The lasat time we went in there wasn't anybody else in the establishment and although it was turned down upon request, it was still VERY loud...again my ears were ringing. It's too bad because we like the coffee, like the staff but hate the volume of the music!!
Megan / April 10, 2013 at 05:16 pm
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I agree with you Chris. I have never experienced anything like this. I went last week in the late morning and the music was SOOOOO loud! It was also like death metal music, definitely not appealing for a quiet day of studying. We asked to turn the music down, and the barrista maybe turned it down a notch, but it was still way too loud. We asked again after 10 minutes, and the barrista rudely said "I already did!". I couldn't believe she responded this way. We tried to stay despite the music, but I got a serious head ache from it. I really liked the coffee and the atmosphere but the music made it impossible to stay. The owner came in while we were there, but also didn't do anything about the music. You are going to be losing a lot of customers if you continue treating them like this and keep your music at such loud levels.
Kirk / April 28, 2013 at 04:32 pm
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Hello Megan and Chris
We have noted your comments thank you for bringing it to our attention again and we have addressed the issue. Tracy and Kirk
mary / May 24, 2013 at 02:34 pm
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The music is fine! It adds to the atmosphere. Why is everyone complaining? Are they all over 60?
Rjay / July 29, 2013 at 10:49 am
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I realllllly wanted to like this place. Coffee was good and so were the treats but the staff decided to chat with a friend/customer for an hour about nonesense 20 something banter while 5 guests were trying to read quietly or work in computers. I wanted to shoot my brain out... had to leave. Don't come here if you want to have your own conversation with a friend or work.
Chris / January 5, 2014 at 05:48 pm
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Happy New Year Kirk et al!!! Thanks Kirk for listening and adjusting....the music is now in the background and NOT angry, pounding grunge rock. If I complained before it is incumbent on me to praise now!! LOL The baristas you have now are GREAT...open, friendly and sparkling personalities....We are now happy to walk in anytime, knowing the coffee is great and the atmosphere inviting..... keep up the experience!!
Danny / March 19, 2014 at 12:16 am
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The Americano I had here the other day was superb - the best I've had in a long time. I also noticed they were selling beans from Pilot coffee. Keeping it local. The few times i've been in this winter the place has been empty or near empty, staff each time have been very sweet friendly young women, music at good volume, nice spacious interior, with a great community vibe. Glad to have (re)discoverd this neighbourhood place and even happier that it may in fact serve some of the best caffinated beverages in the city. I plan on ramping up my patronage. Did I mention the coffee is really good? Now if someone would turn Ruby Tuesdays into a nice little Trattoria...

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