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Caffe Furbo

Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on March 25, 2011

Caffe Furbo TorontoCaffe Furbo has that off-the-streets-of-Rome feel. Not that I'm any sort of expert on authentic Italian cafes. Not in the least. But as I get to talking to owner Kevin Bonnici, I'm reminded more and more of the little cafes and lounges I came across on my one and only trip to Italy several years ago.

The space is open and airy, with the Douglas fir and exposed brick characteristic of the Distillery District. Behind the counter are shelves and shelves of sparkling wine glasses, next to the gleaming espresso machine and hanging lamps. Bonnici has lowered the tables scattered throughout the café to give Furbo more of a laid-back feel, and paired them with white chairs and the occasional upholstered bench. And on the wall--canvas paintings, done by Boccini himself.

Caffe Furbo TorontoBut it's not so much the look of the space that is reminiscent of Rome, as is the overall vibe. It's very modern, sensual almost, yet relaxed and comfortable. As we chat, Boccini's daughter does her homework on one of the low white tables.

"I love talking to people," Bonnici tells me when I ask why he decided to open a cafe after 20 years in finance. "A bunch of us were let go a year and a half ago, so I decided to look at my life. I thought, 'What do I love?' I love coffee. I love talking to people. This would embrace that joie de vivre."

Caffe Furbo TorontoCaffe Furbo is brand new. Located in the Distillery District, I catch it on just its fourth day, still trying to get the word out and working on a liquor license. "I'm hoping to have it within a month," Bonnici says. "Then get some good wines, and some cheeses to pair nicely--but that's my wife's domain."

Bonnici also plans to source fresh artisanal breads, as well as savory Mediterranean pastries. "I really hope to become a meeting place, and also host events and private functions." With a maximum capacity of 45, the events will have to be intimate, but the ample wall space and "kickass sound system," as Bonnici tells me, would likely make for a great exhibition.

Caffe Furbo TorontoThen, of course, there's the espresso machine, which Bonnici can't help but dote on. "Oh," he says, strolling toward the Faema. "It has just become my best friend. I don't even have drip coffee. I figure, why? It takes me two minutes to make you something, and in the meantime I can ask you about your day."

Though while he makes me an espresso ($1.80), Bonnici tells me about the Haiti Roma beans he and two other business owners have exclusively imported to Toronto. "It's a little more expensive, but it has just a beautiful taste." And it did; very harmonic, bold, and not at all bitter. Other drinks include cappuccino ($3.09), Americano ($1.98), and cappuccino doppio (3.81). The baked offerings, including scones ($2.14) and croissants ($2.25) have been sourced from bakers around the city.

"I really want this to be a neighbourhood spot," Bonnici says motioning over the tables. "Just a minimalist place with maximum heart."

Caffe Furbo TorontoPhotos by Dennis Marciniak



livesnearby / March 25, 2011 at 12:54 pm
That same location used to be the Piano Bar (which was a similar styled cafe) a few years ago while the Distillery District was still finding its legs. hopefully this fares better, with better fare.
boo balzac / March 25, 2011 at 02:10 pm
Glad to hear about this place. It's nice that Balzac will have some competition. Balzac's coffee is overrated and their staff/customer service is really bad. I'll check this new place out for sure.
Mama2Avery / March 25, 2011 at 04:24 pm
This place looks like it's stroller friendly. YIPPEE!
Jesse / March 26, 2011 at 08:39 am
No strollers, thank you. The last thing a nice cafe needs is screaming children.
cosmosuave / March 28, 2011 at 10:21 am
Something better than Balzacs will give it a try after I pick up my child from day care...
Diana / March 28, 2011 at 06:49 pm
I absolutely love this café and will be returning often. The coffee is one of the best in the distillery. The art work and ambience is wonderful. Kevin is a treasure. The food is fresh and the apricot croissants are amazing. Kudos to the caffe furbo!!
Jamie / April 3, 2011 at 10:41 am
Delicious food and drinks. Kevin is one of the nicest hosts I've ever encountered! Love this place
the lemur replying to a comment from Jesse / April 6, 2011 at 10:49 am
The owners happen to be parents and who made you the doorman? Find another place.
the lemur replying to a comment from Jesse / April 6, 2011 at 10:56 am
The owners happen to be parents and who made you the doorman? Find another place.
mike / April 14, 2011 at 05:40 pm
looks great...I'm in
the lemur / April 14, 2011 at 06:25 pm
They now have a liquor licence.
Ann / April 15, 2011 at 08:46 am
Looks amazing and cannot wait to try it! On a side note for Jesse - not all children are screamers!!!
Jason / April 16, 2011 at 06:26 pm
Stopped by with my 6 year old son. The espresso is very good. The owner is friendly, the pastries are excellent and the decor is minimalist and moderne but relaxing and comfortable. I am glad that there is a Balzac's alternative at the Distillery.

Jesse: I guess your parent(s)never took you anywhere for the same reason. It shows in your comment.
Dave / April 18, 2011 at 09:58 am
Recently moved to the Distillery and have been really disappointed with Balzac's. I really dont understand why people like it there. I'd heard so much about it -- but I've had nothing but (really) bad coffee and terrible food there.

Kevin (who is super friendly and very helpful and passionate about his place) does a great job with the beverages -- pastries and other treats are simple but fresh and tasty - its well worth turning the corner and taking a few more steps.
Harald Benz / April 20, 2011 at 01:59 pm
My new favourite place!!!!!
E / May 9, 2011 at 07:19 pm
Great place! Kevin is a wonderful host. The scones are the best in Toronto-(and I usually don't like scones), and the cappuccino is really good. I love this place - much better than Balzac's. I go all the time!!!
wm. / September 5, 2011 at 08:21 pm
Horrible experience today.
The place is pretentious. There are some great comments about the owner, but all I saw was a thoughtless smorgasbord of Eames furniture, bad boob jobs, a jerky owner, and worst of all- sub par coffee.

Basically its all show and no real flavour.
Kev replying to a comment from wm. / September 6, 2011 at 08:37 am
It is very unfortunate you had a "horrible experience" yesterday. If by having great art is considered pretentious, so be it, sub-par coffee? I think not, and I invite you to taste our coffee on the house and rethink your comment. "smorgasbord" of Eames (reproduction, because I cannot affort the originals), well my taste is my taste, I am not apologizing for simple, utilitarian fare, "bad boob jobs" wtf!, a jerky owner....we all have our bad days, however "all show and no real flavor"...I disagree.
Emma / September 7, 2011 at 08:02 am
Thank you for being so helpful to us Kevin, the restaurant you recommended was awesome. Your coffee is very tasty and we loved the mokachocosomethingorother lol! We will be by to taste your paninis soon, best to you and your baristas!

Jackie / September 7, 2011 at 01:15 pm
Phenomenal place! Best latte I have ever had, (& best decaf, for the prego moms out there). The scones are to die for, especially the Cheese and chive. They are unlike any other scone you will/have ever had in the city. If you're looking for lunch, try the amazing grilled cheese panini with a side of black olives.

The owner (Kevin), is one of my favorite people/business owners in the Distillery District. He definitely makes mornings 10x better.

This place is a favorite of my entire office.
June Levitt / October 19, 2011 at 09:14 am
What a nice surprise to see this tiny cafe in my new neighborhood. The owner (very nice guy) seems to do everything from making great coffee, bus tables and wash dishes lol!...and his paintings are on the walls (not my cuppa but did love the long rectangular pieces). Kudos to Furbo for having wines and Bailey's shots, the cappuccino he made me with bailey's was delicious. Have to come back and try the paninis. Thank you for the great vibe.
cathi / November 29, 2011 at 05:00 pm
Great cafe and good sandwiches. I didn't find it in the least bit pretentious and the decor was great.
Louise / December 2, 2011 at 02:23 pm
Excellent Americano, scones and paninis. Atmosphere, very relaxed with the art display, appropriate music and a great service.
C / December 9, 2011 at 08:49 pm
Fabulous place. Wonderful Owner (Kevin) and Baristas. This place, coffee, food live for!!! Kudos. good. Furniture...sooo comfy. Artwork-beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
km...why so negative--poor you. Hope your days become more positive.
lowrez / December 1, 2012 at 10:24 pm
The espresso here is absolute bullshit. They don't know what they're doing. Great decor -- love the Eames. The coffee is inexcusable, though.
P replying to a comment from lowrez / January 19, 2013 at 09:03 am
I'm at 2 a day lowrez and loving it!
Kevin Bonnici replying to a comment from lowrez / January 19, 2013 at 09:39 am
Just saw this, lowrez our coffee is splendid, that said I'm only human and if you got a bad pull YOU GOTTA TELL ME DUUUDE that's how we are here, i LOVE being kept on my toes lol, please stop by and have one on the house, cheers and best to you and yours in the new year. You can reach me at . Peace.
Kel Springfield / January 26, 2013 at 11:40 am
Thank you for a wonderful lunch Kevin (and the excellent espressos on the house was a nice gesture, Lori said that your service was quite delightful). Telling my friends about you guys!!

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