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Cafes

The Common (Bloor)

Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on July 18, 2012

Common Espresso Bar TorontoThe Common (Bloor) is the second café of its kind to grace Toronto, modeled after the original incarnation over at College and Dufferin.

For years, The Common name has been associated with the $2 Americano, the menu-less mantra, and the option of medium or dark roast. And indeed, that same basic profile has been carried over here to Bloor and Rusholme, but with a lot more room to offer.

The Common Cafe TorontoFrom the outside, this new Common looks a lot like its slightly southwest source of inspiration. With its name across the window, a line of chairs has been arranged outside along the sidewalk, with a steady flow of (cutoff-clad) patrons filing in and out of its doors. Inside, much like The Common on College, people have settled in seats with their laptops, the only difference being they can't see what on their neighbour's screens.

The Common Cafe TorontoYes, The Common (Bloor) is blessed with space. With old church pews arranged along perimeter with dark stained tables set alongside, there's a big open space in the centre that ostensibly could be used for more seating. Though I, of course, love the open feel. The vibe is minimally rustic with an old oak barrel sitting by the door and old watering cans and pails set on shelves around the café. And best of all — a foosball table sitting ready in the back. No menuboard, as is The Common practice, but a bright La Marzocco telling you all you need to know.

The Common Cafe TorontoOwners Ed and Anna aren't in when I stop by, though I chat with Anna over the phone the next day. She tells me she approached Ed to partner on a new location, looking all over the city but ultimately deciding that, "Dufferin Grove felt like home."

"We definitely wanted to keep the same vibe," she says. "But I think something bigger was definitely appealing to Ed."

The Common Cafe TorontoThe barista confirms that the blends offered are the same as on College — Rufino Super Bar and a custom blend by Mountain View. I order an iced Americano ($3.00) and instead of offering the completed drink, she prepares a cup of ice water before pulling the espresso. None of that terrible liquid sugar — I dissolve a little bit of brown into the espresso before pouring it over the ice water, crema intact. The best way, in my trying-not-be-be-a-snob opinion, to offer up an iced Americano.

Common Espresso Bar TorontoAnd the drink is lovely; quite strong initially with a smooth, fruity finish, and fading as the ice melts to dilute the espresso further. My one qualm is that milks (soy and Harmony organics) have been left on the counter and are somewhat warm to the touch. While the space has a nice circulation going with a couple of ceiling fans at full speed, I'd wager it's not enough to keep that milk cool. Granted, I'm a bit of a freak when it comes to proper dairy refrigeration, but I'd much rather the nuisance of having to ask for a carton from the fridge than have it sit on the counter during a heat wave.

Common Espresso BarBut milk or no milk, there's ample room for me to find a seat and settle in. The Common also has a modest spread of locally made baked goods including shortbread bites and coconut cookies. But the main attraction, surely, is the wealth of space (or the foosball table — whatever). For all The Common ambiance without the elbow nudging, this new spot seems a perfect café-workspace fit.

The Common Cafe TorontoPhotos by Denise McMullin

Discussion

30 Comments

brian / July 18, 2012 at 11:22 am
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love the common so much. we need one on roncesvalles too
ChefAldea / July 18, 2012 at 11:29 am
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Having lived in The Grove for years, I can honestly say that The Common is the best community cafe in Toronto. Bloorcourt is lucky to have it's sister in the hood.

I've also drank that milk for years and voila, I'm still kicking. If a tablespoon of room temp milk frightens this writer, how do they ever leave the house?
Brock / July 18, 2012 at 12:04 pm
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Our neighbourhood needed this. I LOVE this place. Great espresso quality, good taste, great staff... Yummy chocolate croissants!
Cool / July 18, 2012 at 01:13 pm
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Cool, but i noticed that the Common on College switched the espresso machine to match this new store. There was a noticeable different in the taste of the coffee. Kind of disappointed!
Frenchie / July 18, 2012 at 01:27 pm
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I'm so happy to see that The Common is now both at the top and the bottom of my street. This is my favourite and in my opinion the best cafe in the city. Thanks for choosing to stay in Dufferin Grove. I'm going to get an iced Americano right now!
Ryan Allen / July 18, 2012 at 06:56 pm
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For me, the coffee tasted like sh*t, pardon my french. And the space is a bore, the vibe is monotone. I'm concerned for people who are actually amused by this new location. I went in with high hopes, but was seriously disappointed.
CS / July 18, 2012 at 07:40 pm
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Best coffee period. Also Staff are sweethearts. Thanks for opening on bloor common!
ryth / July 19, 2012 at 12:10 pm
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Review of an espresso shop, no full discussion and picture of the machine? I think they transitioned from the manual pull to automatic. Disappointing.
Alba / July 19, 2012 at 06:38 pm
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do they have (working) outlets for computers at this location?
V replying to a comment from Ryan Allen / July 20, 2012 at 03:47 pm
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Ruh roh, Ryan Allen needs a nap. All that "concern" for people has made his diaper a bit wet.
Cs / July 20, 2012 at 04:26 pm
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Yeah there are plugs! Sat there the other day in that back booth spot, love it. They def didn't go from manual to automatic. Thy went from good machine to the Ferrari of machines, that thing is hot.
Mark Thompson / July 20, 2012 at 09:22 pm
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Um, I like being as much in-the-know as anybody else, and I love the original Common, but would it hurt to put the street address in the text of the review?
Katie Sd / July 21, 2012 at 12:23 pm
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All I have to say about this shop - Meh.
Mike / July 21, 2012 at 01:40 pm
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John Hodgman on the use of "meh": "But in use, it almost universally seems to signal: I am just interested enough to make one last joyless, nitpicky swipe and then disappear... It is the essence of blinkered Internet malcontentism. And a rejection of joy."
danielle replying to a comment from Mike / July 22, 2012 at 03:29 pm
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Awesome.
john / July 22, 2012 at 07:12 pm
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Nice enough shop, but the coffee wasn't so great
Laura / July 30, 2012 at 08:03 pm
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So pleased they opened in bloorcourt. Amazing $2 americano, and open at 7am for us early birds.
Alex / July 31, 2012 at 10:13 am
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Milk left out to get warm? Yuk!

I don't get the hype, this place has zero substance.
LW / October 17, 2012 at 05:19 pm
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The Common is one of the best cafes in Toronto. Welcoming staff and building, a family member of mine and his carpentry staff renovated this space so this could happen. Warm milk is nothing but a thing. Its going to end up whatever temperature your drink is in the end anyway so why complain? I agree with ChefAldea.
Tim / October 27, 2012 at 10:07 pm
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Found out about this place from here. It did NOT disappoint. My wife and I agreed that the Lattes were the best we've ever had. So so so so good!
Ben / December 2, 2012 at 01:52 pm
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Great cafe !
gdhnu / December 30, 2012 at 09:05 pm
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Their WiFi sucks. Always goes on and off.
Patricia / March 28, 2013 at 10:09 am
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As a former and soon to be cafe owner I too juggle the pro's and con's of manual versus semi-automatic espresso machines. In my 7 years and and may I add a coffee lover who drank espresso at the tender age of 5 so I really do know a bit more than the average coffee drinker. I am Italian, it's in my blood! Culturally and literally!

People are emotionally drawn to the old world charm of the manual espresso machine. It's a beautiful thing. However, manual machines require a seasoned barista who actually knows what they are doing and lets face it, college kids who work the machines really don't care if the crema is right or the temperature is appropriate ... Meanwhile, the automatic machine exactly measures the pressure to format the perfect puck density - every time. The water is precise. Don't get me wrong, you just don't buy this auto machine and plug it in and voila it's making espresso. You, the owner has to make the perfect blend when you find it ( IT TOOK ME DAYS) you lock it in. Then you have the same perfect coffee every time. So if your student is having a bad day you still get that great coffee.

But some people swear by the old fashion way and refuse to think auto espresso machines make as good a coffee. It just goes to show you the power of emotional purchasing. Matter of fact, these auto machines are all over Itally and have been for as long as I can remember.

My favourite, it's still the steel pot over the gas stove that nonna's make all over Italy. Nothing fancy and you smell it down the village street.
Chris / June 24, 2013 at 11:41 am
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Rufino has got to be the worst coffee in the Toronto coffee scene.
It's not even specialty grade as it contains Robusta. Had a shot and it tasted like rubber. Terrible green sourcing.
EIM / July 30, 2013 at 01:33 pm
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I'd say this is my favorite coffee shop in Toronto because their coffee is nutty and smooth without being bitter, and their milk is all Organic. What more could you ask for? Their staff is friendly, and the place is clean and inviting. I love it!
Hassan / December 9, 2013 at 08:36 pm
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I love this place.. Very inspiring for artists... I usual sit and write or edit there..
The coffee is really great.. and people work there are amazing..

yuffie / January 25, 2014 at 07:30 am
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What are their hours? I can't find this information anywhere (they are too cool to have a web site or a phone number, apparently).
taco man / June 1, 2014 at 10:53 am
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great location….park down the street.

weak americano.

it's not smooth….it's bland.

this is comment based on 4 separate orders.

not impressed by the beverage.
Matt / July 7, 2014 at 07:23 pm
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Great coffee, great vibe, friendly staff. But they really need to keep that front counter clean and organized when it gets busy on weekends. It is an absolute mess. The barista has a pile of bills and change on the counter and glasses and trays are strewn all over the place.
Nick / July 30, 2014 at 01:45 pm
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Love love love this place. We're two Kiwis who have spent 3 months touring the USA and have spent the last ten days in Toronto. We honestly believe this is the best coffee we have come across in North America and were super stoaked to find it.

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