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Cafe Con Leche

Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on October 31, 2012

cafe con lecheCafe Con Leche is located by the underwhelming intersection of Dupont and Perth. "Underwhelming" by first impression, mind you. Because if you ask owners Carlos and Sandra - and indeed, some of the area's locals - they'll tell you that this neighbourhood is terribly underrated.

"It feels just like home," Carlos says as we sit inside the cafe on a dreary weekday afternoon. "People here are so friendly, so nice. Sandra and I are actually thinking of moving to the area because we like it so much."

Cafe Con LecheThe couple is no stranger to the Toronto cafe scene, acting as part owner of CocoaLatte over on St. Clair. But whereas CocoaLatte offers breakfast and lunch fare, Cafe Con Leche is decidedly more of a traditional espresso bar.

"Part of making good coffee is about monitoring," Sandra says. "You want to make sure there's no moisture in the grinder, your water is at the right temperature, and you can't always do that when you're trying to make a sandwich, too."

It's that dedication to quality espresso that motivated the duo to look for a spot for a more coffee-focused café.

cafe con leche"We started looking in the summer," says Carlos. "And we actually walked around the neighbourhood, talking to people in their front yards and asking what they think of us opening an espresso bar here."

Needless to say, the community was more than enthused. So Carlos and Sandra took over this space (formerly a laundromat) and got to work on renovations. They used salvaged kitchen cabinets and roofing sheets to construct the bar, redid the floors (but left them raw), painted, accessorized, and added finishing touches.

cafe con lecheAmong those finishing touches are three clocks over the cafe entrance - one set to Toronto time, one set to Western European time (a nod to Portugal and Sandra's background), and one set to California time, where Carlos grew up.

"We want this to feel comfortable and friendly; a real place for the community," Carlos says.

Cafe Con LecheCafé con leche (the drink, that is) is the bar's specialty ($2.25/$2.50/$2.75), though conventional lattes ($3.50/$4.50), Americanos ($2.00/$3.00), and espressos ($2.00/ $3.00) are also on the drink menu, all made with Rufino coffee.

Cafe Con LecheCarlos prepares me a cup of the café con leche, which is made with drip coffee and steamed milk as opposed to the espresso-based latte. I take it unsweetened, allowing the natural sweetness of the milk to prevail. The drink is smooth and quite mild (with a heaping amount of foam on top), striking me as a good option for the infrequent coffee drinker.

Cafe Con LecheEats at Cafe Con Leche are left to Sweets from the Earth, Circles and Squares, and a couple of other bakeries, with free WiFi available (naturally) in the cafe and operational hours that include every day of the week. Carlos and Sandra say they are hoping to host some special events in the future, and of course, looking forward to further connecting with the community.

Cafe Con LecheCafe Con Leche is open Monday to Saturday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.



Greg J. Smith / October 31, 2012 at 10:22 am
Hooray for Cafe Con Leche! Why does every bougie food writer have to insult the Junction Triangle when they review a cafe/restaurant here? (See the Globe's review of Farmhouse Tavern). I find this journalistic cliche quite "underwhelming".
Jennifer Adolph / October 31, 2012 at 11:20 am
Thank you for coming and welcome to the hood! It certainly is a fantastic place to live, but you guys have just made it better! We havent been in yet - but will be in very soon! It looks great!
Kristen S / October 31, 2012 at 11:38 am
Great addition to the neighbourhood!
P / October 31, 2012 at 12:06 pm
First off, this neighborhood is grossly underrated! People who talk trash should actually come by...there are open, creative people/families living here. Congrats to Cafe con Leche. As you probably can tell, you will get some massive support from this hood. So keep up! Everything is changing and we'll all remember the time when the Farmhouse and Cafe con Leche were the first on the strip!
Erin / October 31, 2012 at 12:27 pm
As an area resident for the past 7 years I'm so happy to see the addition but scared about what's coming. These guys are clever to move in now as Dupont is going to be covered in condos and townhouses in the next 5 years. The problem lies in the fact that the city is doing virtually nothing to prepare for this boom and infastructure wise its not looking too good. There is already proof in this with TDSB signs posted clearly saying that they aren't ready for the population influx and as any local knows the current situation at Dundas/Dupont/Annette intersection is horrendous and has no solution even on the table...

P replying to a comment from Erin / October 31, 2012 at 01:42 pm
Agreed but equally, these places are badly needed...really this area has the last row of storefronts in succession that have either been abandoned, used as residences or have shady businesses that unforuntately/fortunately this type of change and gentrification brings with it these problems...I would also argue there are plenty of schools in the area but parents are sending them elsewhere because of the reputation of schools like Perth, St.Luigi, St.Rita etc...residents can enroll kids there as there is plenty of room it's just many are going outside of the district for name can't live here and then just shuffle kids off to well known schools when parents aren't willing to try these places out...they are doing good things.
scottd replying to a comment from Erin / October 31, 2012 at 02:05 pm
@Erin there is in fact some solutions to the Annette/Dundas intersection being looked at right now.You can look them up on the JT website.

By the way why does Blog TO start every story about the JT by saying it's crappy? Its getting a bit tiresome.
double j replying to a comment from Greg J. Smith / October 31, 2012 at 02:39 pm
i can understand local residents being irked by slights and digs in the media, but - and i say this as a frequent visitor and fan of the area - "underwhelming" is a fairly mild way to describe parts of this commercial strip. there are several seedy places i wouldn't feel comfortable entering, some crumbling store fronts, and a vacant contaminated corner lot anchoring the hood. things are changing (for better and worse) but providing a bit of context is part of the writer's job.
erin replying to a comment from P / October 31, 2012 at 02:46 pm
Actually "P" there are signs west of lansdowne on dupont that say specifically say local schools are going to have trouble with this influx and warning parents that their kids may not be able to "go local" due to the population increase. If we look JUST at the developments underway right now we're already going to be in trouble.

Also I'd like to mention I'm not wishing this cafe hadn't moved in here, quite the opposite in fact - I welcome them. My home that I purchased 7 years ago has actually doubled in value and it is specifically because this area has become one of the hottest areas in the city by being overly accessible by transit, as well as by highway, close to Roncevalles, the Junction and High Park, and soon right on the air rail line (though this may not be a blessing). There is no where else in the city like this.

That being said though (and in response to you Scottd) we're not moving fast enough to handle what is coming. Development has literally started closing in from every possible direction and unfortunately we're pretty much stuck with our current infrastructure as our rookie councilor is dealing with her own troubles and our Mayor very likely has no clue we even exist aside from being that place where he painted over a city funded mural that he thought was graffiti insulting his fishing pal Harper (it wasn't.). I'm a follower of the Junction Triangle site and I'm well aware of the studies going on at Annette/Dundas, but I can assure you its not going to come fast enough and it is just one component of many that needs to be tended to quickly and won't.

P replying to a comment from erin / October 31, 2012 at 03:00 pm
Knowing teachers who teach in those schools, many have ample room...St.Rita doesn't use their third floor, St.Luigi used to have 3 portables that are now gone, Perth aren't using up all their classrooms and in recent years all of the schools have suplused their staff because of low numbers. Spread evenly throughout those schools and a few other surrounding ones, I'm not saying they will accomodate everyone but equally there is space. Again, the issue is those schools are often seen like the neighborhood itself, somewhat undesirable locations. That has to change!
Ben / October 31, 2012 at 03:32 pm
My wife and I tried this place out on the way to the library. She had a latte and I had an Americano and both were quite good. The cafe was nice and bright, the owners friendly and chatty - just wish it could be open in the evenings.
erin replying to a comment from P / October 31, 2012 at 04:02 pm
Always nice to converse with someone paying attention to their hood, the signs I'm referring to and an article about them

Developers look around for any affordable land they can buy in "high demand" areas then try to build the biggest development they can with no concern about how they're development will effect the existing neighbourhood. It really is due time we make these developers accountable for the impact of their developments.
Vic / November 1, 2012 at 09:05 am
We're a young family moving to the 'hood and I'm very excited that we have Cafe Con Leche to visit for coffee/tea!!! See you soon!
It's also interesting to read the perspectives of our future neighbours about the Junction Triangle.
UrbanRitualist / November 1, 2012 at 12:23 pm
This cafe is a great addition and another shot in the arm to the needs of Junction Triangle area, we've seen a few nice additions on DuPont St these last few years, and cafe con leche is yet another, I'm pleased with the changes, and welcome the other new neighours we will have moving into the area, both resell home buyers and condo buyers, as this adds to the vibrancy and diversity of our commercial streets like DuPont

Both are good changes to this steadily emerging 'hood :)
scottd replying to a comment from erin / November 2, 2012 at 11:14 am

The developments in our area have been on the drawing board for years. You are painting a picture where everything is happening at once and it may seem that way but the process goes back to 1980 when factories started leaving. Intensification is what happens as cities get older and today single family homes are rarely built in the downtown.That is the 2012 reality across the city.Personally I am willing to put up with some construction and density to finally fill in these dead spots in the community and bring more people and energy to the hood.

I wanted to point out that there currently is a rail corridor study that includes JT that has had meetings and a series of walkabouts with Planning Staff, last weekend there was a ward wide development Town Hall hosted by the Councillor (the first time I can recall that ever happening in 18) and the wrap up is here ( and I personally have attended over 75 developer meetings over the last decade--in many cases working with the Planners and the developers to make changes to better suit the existing community. Obviously some developers dont care but some do (Wallace Ave. is a great example of that divide) and to some extent the City only has so much legal ability to shape what gets built.I can also say that I have been at City meetings where the issues you mention have come up. Its not like nobody knows. If you want to express your ideas directly to our Planner at City then call Sarah Phipps and let her know what you think.

Elaine / November 25, 2012 at 03:50 pm
Welcome Cafe Con Leche - looking forward to trying your espresso!
- your place may be just the spot to have those neighbourhood discussions such as those raised here!
dizzy5 / December 20, 2012 at 06:03 pm
Good strong coffee first thing in the a.m. Good music. Sit and dig upon the scene. Stop worryin' 'bout neighborhoods where your home value has doubled. S'up with that? Fill in the dead spots, indeed. Stay outta Thai Lime till they change the "chef". I'd "like" the place on Facebook but cool people don't do FB. I-know-this-because-I-am-from-New-York-City...y'all.
Sandra DaSilva / February 9, 2013 at 03:12 pm
Update on the business hours

Mon-Fri 7:30am-6pm
Saturday 9am- 6pm
Sunday 10am-6pm

Wi-Fi available

For further details (647) 748-3322 or follow on twitter @CafeConLecheTO.
FB Cafe Con Leche EspressoBar
Sandra DaSilva / February 18, 2013 at 11:54 am
Update on the last update

Monday -Friday 7 ish to 5pm
Saturday 9am - 5pm
Sunday 10am - 5pm
Sandra DaSilva / April 10, 2013 at 12:37 pm
Extended hours for Spring/Summer. Please call for more details.

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