Coffee Crate wasn’t supposed to impress me like it did but this is one sweet Toronto cafe. The 300-square-foot cafe shares a space with Women on the Move near Dundas and Roncesvalles. All beverages are produced on a mobile crate.
The crate itself is splashed with colourful graffiti, by Chad of Paint Factory in Oshawa. You’d think having just a small space other than that would feel claustrophobic, but in fact it’s breezy, with a long bar for sipping and chatting.
Though they do offer drip coffee here, you’re not going to find it stewing in a big pot: part homage to the quality of the Phil & Sebastian beans they use here, part space-saving efficiency, they use the Kalita Wave to manually brew each cup of drip.
Equally intricate and high quality is the preparation of the ceremonial matcha, sourced from O5 Tea in Vancouver. The label on the tin tells me everything down to the cultivar, grower, origin, harvest, and recommended use. The matcha is carefully sifted into an ever silkier powder before use in matcha shots ($3), cortados ($3.50) or lattes ($4).
I receive a shot of espresso ($3) in a unique snifter, an experience I can’t believe I’ve never had before: it really brings out and distills the coffee scent of the espresso.
The only snacks on offer are biscotti ($2.50 plus tax), but they pack a punch: full of almond and chocolate flavour, they’re baked by Dave of Mattachioni, one of the original Terroni guys not far away in the Junction Triangle.
Vencel uses FalseOX shrub which was originally conceived for cocktails, but finds a delicious home in a non-alcoholic shrub soda.
The shrub is combined simply with cardamom bitters and topped off with sparkling water, giving the $4 soda a sour-sweet tone that’s deepened by the cardamom. It’s a great alternative to a soda or sugary iced tea with only two tablespoons of cane syrup in the whole bottle of shrub.
Books are scattered throughout the space, inviting you to stay, and art by Elyse Saunders hangs on the walls.
There’s a huge window looking into the space, and on one shelf you can buy bags of Phil & Sebastian beans and locally handcrafted mugs by Michele Macdonald.