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Early Bird Espresso & Brew Bar

Posted by Sarah Ratchford / Posted on August 2, 2013

Early Bird TorontoEarly Bird Espresso & Brew Bar is a new cafe on Queen West just east of Bathurst. They just opened this week, but they're attracting plenty of folk from the hood already. With the requisite exposed brick and industrial bulbs, Early Bird fits in with the Queen West aesthetic, although it's in a new building.

Early Bird TorontoI drop in to visit late in the morning, every fiber of my being reaching for that second coffee of the day. I want calories, too, so I order a latte ($3.90, and made with Pilot beans and a La Marzocco machine) and it's exactly what I was hoping for. It manages to be both frothy and creamy, with lots of milk. It goes down like a meal, which I appreciate in a latte. And, of course, Pilot provides a mean bean, and the flavour is nutty and calming.

Early Bird TorontoThe atmosphere is really relaxed, with Alt-J creepily crooning in the background and a few people engaging pretty seriously with their laptops. Friends of owners Bani Taghaboni and Farshid Sahami keep dropping in to offer congratulations, and young people with the freedom to be wandering around in the middle of the day come in for iced coffees. There's seating for about 30 inside, a third of which is at a communal table in the front window.

Early Bird TorontoThere's room for about another 20 on the sunshiney patio in back, which is up a set of back stairs and situated on a lower portion of the roof. There's a picnic table up there, and some smaller bistro tables for more intimate conversations. It looks like an ideal spot for a date or a catchup among friends.

Early Bird TorontoEarly Bird has perfect picnic food, too. They've got several sandwich choices, including prosciutto and pesto, turkey and brie, and tomato and bocconcini. As I dither about what I want to eat, the barista is really patient and tries his best to soothe my indecisive mind.

I eventually settle on a cheese and chive scone ($2.85), which is a gooood choice. I scarf it down so fast I almost forget to pay attention to its characteristics. It is light and fluffy, yet substantial, with the perfect amount of chive so as not to overpower. As scones are meant to be, it's like a small meal, which is just what I need.

Early Bird TorontoThere's a comprehensive selection of sweets from Desmond and Beatrice and Circles & Squares, too, like chocolate chunk cookies and brownies, in case that's more your bag.

Early Bird TorontoMy only beef with Early Bird is kind of unfair, to be honest, but here it is: it's newness makes the industrial touches feel a bit inauthentic. It's like it's trying to be old and gritty. The problem is, there's not a touch of grit about the place. It's all a bit tidy for my liking. But, you know, some people like their food to come from clean environs, so I guess we can't hold it against them too much.

Early Bird TorontoI'd give this cafe four early birds out of five, for their delicious coffee, snack options, and delightful patio.

Early Bird TorontoThanks to the New Listerine UltraClean for sponsoring our coffee-fueled adventures.

Photos by Morris Lum



lxpatterson / August 2, 2013 at 10:30 am
What is that thing the dude is playing with? It looks like a combination of a crack pipe and tube amplifier.
brandon replying to a comment from lxpatterson / August 2, 2013 at 10:45 am
It's a siphon. Probably one of the cleanest cups of coffee you can make. I'm actually extremely surprised there was no mention of this in the review since it's now one of two places in probably all of Ontario that does this.

Tiffany / August 2, 2013 at 10:50 am
Pretty much fell in love with this place yesterday, and I didn't even know about the back patio. I work from home sometimes, and it's nice to have somewhere to go that's not Aroma and closer than R Squared.
Sam M / August 2, 2013 at 12:56 pm
Excellent coffee .fell in love with the place.cant wait to go back. The owners are so cool .

Kaz / August 2, 2013 at 01:33 pm
I think I've stopped by here every day since they've opened. If you like real coffee, you'll love this place.
Anne / August 2, 2013 at 01:43 pm
Early Bird is a welcome addition to the neighbourhood! So far I've tried out their lattes (great!) and cold brew coffees (the best I've had in TO!). I didn't realize they had a back patio so I'll definitely check that out next time I'm in. Kudos to them for their commitment to great coffee and their stellar service.
Cara V / August 2, 2013 at 02:45 pm
I checked this place yesterday . The owners were so friendly and good looking . great location and I love how everything looked great . I didn't know they have a patio . gotta go back and check it out . best coffee I' ve had .
Coffee guy replying to a comment from brandon / August 2, 2013 at 03:30 pm
False on both counts, really. Since any paper filter filters ALL the sediment and oil, they are substantially "cleaner" than siphon. And there are definitely more than two places in Toronto alone that serve it up. Used to be more but more places realize there are faster and better ways to make coffee
lowrez / August 2, 2013 at 05:10 pm
Yeah, siphons used to be all over the place a year or two ago, but they kind of fell out of popularity.

A lot of shops still have a siphon stashed away on a shelf and they don't really get used... Kone / Chemex style pour-overs are where it's at now.
Jonathan replying to a comment from hipsteralchemist / August 2, 2013 at 07:48 pm
Amazing addition to the neighbourhood, was really happy with my Cappuccino, friendly staff, would go there again
arlene / August 3, 2013 at 04:27 pm
Ah ba-ba bird-bird-bird ah bird is the word... Oh, uh... not that bird, it’s the Early Bird, and their cappuccino is simply the best in my hood! So goodbye Jimmys and hello Early Bird for my daily java fix!
Imola / August 3, 2013 at 06:51 pm
It seems a bit unfair to fault the cafe for being in a new building (the building that replaced the one destroyed in the Queen St. fire of a few years ago). If we want more interesting things in our new buildings then dry cleaners, nail places, pet stores, and banks, then we'd better be prepared to embrace having cools cafes and restaurants in buildings other then old Victorian ones. The decor may not authentically old, but at least they are making good use of a new space.
Joe / August 3, 2013 at 07:34 pm
really impressed with this spot... good coffee... nice vibe... new fav spot in the hood.
Lisa / August 3, 2013 at 07:52 pm
Cool coffee shop , nice vibe . Love the building . Definately my fav in the neighbourhood . Most importantly best late I ve had .
Lina / August 4, 2013 at 07:08 pm
Despite all the comments, quality of the drink matters most. And the verdict is that it's fantastic. Lol. The competition does seem nervous. Hahahaah
Sonia / August 4, 2013 at 10:22 pm
Was there today, I have been to a few close by
I must say I really enjoyed the coffee and the
Staff. It does seem that the competition is quite close. LoL
Lorena / August 5, 2013 at 11:23 am
This is one of my two favorite coffee shops in Toronto so far. my favorite was only (Capital). The regular coffee/latte/cappuccino all taste fabulous. Was there yesterday and after I spilled the whole cup of my iced latte, one of the baristas immediately came over to help me clean.I felt so apologetic but she kept telling me that it is totally ok and she will take care of the mess. Meanwhile another barista asked me what my order was before making me another large iced skim latte. Their professionalism and warmth totally made my day. Please never change.
Tim / August 5, 2013 at 09:15 pm
We have removed (and will continue to remove) any comments that are engaged in so-called "hipster bashing".
May / November 12, 2013 at 04:13 pm
Cool coffee shop, excellent coffee, friendly owners, really impressed!!
elnaz naseri / January 15, 2014 at 01:51 am
congradulation to you both. well done, cant wait to visit toronto and drop by Earlybird. dametoon garm
Rad / August 6, 2014 at 11:26 pm
I am from Ottawa and was coffee hopping in Toronto 2 weeks ago, tried at least 2 local coffee houses a day (stayed 4 days btw). My verdict, Early Bird got my 2 thumbs up. It really perks up my day that day, definitely going back there with company in September when I visit the city for tiff.
G / November 3, 2014 at 10:57 am
Early bird makes the best cappuccino ever. I dream about it
Chrissy / May 14, 2015 at 08:44 am
My favourite cafe in Toronto.
kev L / May 27, 2015 at 02:27 pm
Went there today to have a sandwich. Fortunately, the guy in front of me ordered sandwich as well and the guy (who seems to be the owner or manager) went from cash register to making sandwich without washing his hand or wearing any gloves. So I only ordered an espresso to go. Charge for an espresso was high and quality was on low side. Nice store petty it lacks service, hygiene, and quality.
Fine Line replying to a comment from Tim / May 28, 2015 at 05:31 pm
@Tim, base on what criteria are you removing comments so called "hipster bashing"? aren't you bashing hipster basher. Are you some type of hipster priest who says what should be right thing to say? is there any kiddie hipster in your flocks who being blessed by your holiness?
my thought, for what is worth, hipster as a person who thinks for oneself is highly regarded in all cultures. hipster as in who follows trend is not but target of ridicule and that is a good thing
aFello / June 5, 2015 at 07:23 pm
What is up with all that attitude? Super pretentious! if you ask me.
Dude, Chill - you are only serving coffee and it is overprice
Mmm63 / August 3, 2015 at 05:36 pm
I can't comment...I'm still LATTE HEAVEN.

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