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Cafes

Fair Grounds Organic Cafe & Roastery

Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on June 22, 2011

Fair Grounds Cafe TorontoFair Grounds Organic Cafe & Roastery started in a borrowed warehouse and residential locker. Now it's a spacious micro-roaster, bakery and coffee shop (and soon to make its own ice cream) on Lake Shore Boulevard in Etobicoke.

When I walk into the space I meet Jeffrey Stinson, who tells me his didn't initially anticipate his humble beginnings will turn into a full-fledged coffee shop.

Fair Grounds Cafe Toronto"I was always into fair trade, organics, and things of that nature," he says. "My interest started in wine, but coffee is very similar when you think of things like region, altitude--aspects that affect the bean."

Fair Grounds Cafe TorontoFair Ground only offers fair trade and organic coffees from Latin American, Indonesia, and Africa. "We look for small cooperatives, progressive sources; some of our coffee is from the Café Feminino women's co-operative, for example."

Fair Grounds Cafe TorontoJeffrey started by roasting his coffee in the back of a friend's warehouse and selling at local farmers' markets. He used a storage locker in his building to keep his products and materials, and eventually expanded to another rented storage space. He eventually went looking for storefronts in which to open a shop, and curiously, nine out of the 10 spaces he looked at ended up taken over by independent coffee shops themselves.

20110614Fair Grounds Cafe TorontoThis space--formerly a butcher shop and a bank before that--ended up being the right fit. "I like the area," Jeffrey says. "And it's definitely going through some changes for the better." Jeffrey's wife picked out the paint colours, local artists have decorated the walls, and a friend who owns a Timothy's donated the furniture after she was forced to redecorate as per orders from head office.

Fair Grounds Cafe TorontoFair Grounds does coffee drinks such as espresso ($1.60), latte ($3.00), French press ($2.65) and more, and also offers loose leaf teas ($3.75) and lots of baked treats that are prepared fresh on site. It also serves a menu of grilled cheese sandwiches using its freshly baked breads and Maypole ice cream, though Jeffrey tells me he hopes to develop his own ice cream soon.

Fair Grounds Cafe TorontoFeeling the heat, I watch as the barista prepares a fresh, biodegradable cup of lemonade (from lemons, water, and not much else, $3.00) and drop by later for a hazelnut latte when the temperature begins to cool. The lemonade is fairly sour with little bits of pulp, but not overwhelmingly so, though a little honey or aguave could have made it an outstanding drink. The latte has great flavour, and is perfectly smooth and creamy.

Fair Grounds Cafe TorontoFair Grounds offers free WiFi and a choice of regular organic milk, almond milk, and soymilk (no extra charge). It is open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Fair Grounds Cafe TorontoPhotos by Jesse Milns

Discussion

7 Comments

Coffee Snob / June 22, 2011 at 04:55 pm
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If you can't figure out latte art - you shouldn't be roasting.
random / June 22, 2011 at 05:50 pm
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that's not true.
latte art and roasting are two completely different skills.
Arby / July 2, 2011 at 08:22 am
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I would not think you need to be an expert at latte art in order to be an expert at roasting. There 'may' be an argument that it would be unusual for a master roaster to be completely unfamiliar with latte art.

My understanding is that latte art arose incidentally. It was done in order to demonstrate that the microfoam was good. You can't do latte art with crappy foam.

Certainly, Not everyone agrees that you need to do latte art. Why do you need to do latte art. In any case, Live and let live. If my barista can make my drink properly and he or she doesn' want to do latte art, I have no problem with that.

I'm noticing on BlogTO a lot of new indie coffee shops opening up in Etobicoke. That's interesting. And exciting. I look forward to venturing out of central Toronto to check out some of these spots one day. Hopefully soon. I like Fair Grounds's attitude.
Jeffrey / July 8, 2012 at 12:49 am
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What makes you think that it was the coffee roaster doing the latte art ?
Pastryrocks / February 16, 2013 at 09:21 pm
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One person poison is someone else’s medicine, furthermore, the line up at Tim Horton’s will attest to those who don’t know their rear end from a hole in the ground. I like a simple French Press, some coconut milk and I am happy. Not that achieving this is easy, try finding a half decent coffee to enrich my 195˚f water is not an easy task. Like any place making something subjective, it is not always easy to please everyone and one will ever please everyone. But this place makes a good cup of coffee, great freshly roasted coffee beans for my French Press, and makes some very good bars. In this neck of the woods, there is only Starbucks, and this place outshines Starbucks, which is not that hard. The coffee is far above average, the bars are very good and the service is also way above average. Could be better, but then so could any place.
Katherine / May 20, 2013 at 08:14 pm
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I love discovering new coffee shops, so I didn't mind the idea of making the trek to this place from Mississauga. But I have to be honest, if it weren't for the lovely walk in Marie Curtis Park after we got our coffee, the trip would have been a bust.

The coffee was too sour for my taste, and if I'm going to pay that much for a coffee, I might as well get the nice people at Starbucks to brew me a special cup in the Clover. The cafe is not attractive, the donated furniture lacks character and the overall experience was unsatisfying. If I lived in the area, I'd probably be greatful to have a local coffee shop nearby, but I don't see myself returning to this coffee spot.
Kim / October 6, 2013 at 09:10 am
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The dark roast coffee is the best I've ever had and I drink it black. The scones are also impressive. Environment changes every 20 mins or so depending on crowd size, but more often if I have extra time I prefer to relax to the music, read a paper and then start my day.

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