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Cafes

Haven Espresso Bar

Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on January 16, 2013

haven espresso torontoHaven Espresso Bar might just be the tiniest espresso bar in all of Toronto. Located on Brock just west of Bloor and Dufferin, Haven is certainly one of those places you have to go looking for. Sure, there's a little sandwich board outside and the word "espresso" in the window, but if you don't know Haven's there, you'll probably walk right past it.

haven espresso torontoBut despite its size, this space has actually had a flourishing series of occupancies. It was once a takeout counter, a cell phone shop, a hair salon, and most recently, a storage space; and all at a mere 117 square feet (plus a bathroom). Now it stands proudly with a little espresso machine, a couple of snacks, and a stool, offering the cafe concept at its most basic to Bloordale residents.

haven espresso toronto"I like to say that we're Toronto's littlest community centre," says barista Madison Brown. "We see a lot of regulars, mostly people in the area, and it has really become a community hub." A hub to just say 'hello' and move on, mind you — at least in the wintertime. In the summer, however, Haven opens up with plenty of seating on its patio, offering a space to kick back with an iced "Canadiano" or homemade lemonade.

haven espresso torontoBut this being January, such patio pleasures are still a few months off. Madison tells me that the owner, Jason Raabe, simply decided that this space would be well-suited to an espresso bar, and also plans to open a complementary brunch spot two doors over (to be dubbed, appropriately, "North Haven"). The cafe itself offers a standard list of drinks made with Rufino espresso, along with Tealish teas and the aforementioned homemade lemonade in the summer.

haven espresso torontoThe snacks are a mix of citywide favourites and eats from bakers in the neighbourhood, including gluten-free and vegan sweets from Sweets from the Earth and cookies from Cookie Martinez.

Now, prior to arriving at Haven, I had heard that flavoured lattes were somewhat of a specialty, so I asked Madison about the syrups on the counter. "To be honest," she says, "I don't really like them, but some people just prefer flavours in their coffee." As a veteran barista, Madison sticks by her classic espressos ($2/$3), 'Canadiano' ($2/$3/$4), and lattes ($3/$4/$5) and she extracts me a drink — sans added flavour (my preference, anyway).

haven espresso torontoThe flavour is mellow — almost fruity on the finish — with a rich dark colour and smooth consistency. I can see how it might work with a caramel shot of something similar, but I think one of Haven's milks — regular, soy, almond, or rice — would work much better.

haven espresso torontoNeedless to say, Haven is not a place to pull out your laptop, so WiFi is out of the question, but it is open daily (7a.m. to 5p.m. during the week, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends) for a grab-and-go espresso (no drip) coffee fix. Claustrophobics be warned.

Photos by Jesse Milns

Discussion

9 Comments

Jenn / January 16, 2013 at 10:03 am
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Ya! This place is great.
j / January 16, 2013 at 01:24 pm
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How about that place at Bloor and Clinton...it's gotta be smaller!
Tanya / January 16, 2013 at 01:48 pm
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Yeah... looks bigger than the Coffee Pocket to me. Let's get measuring tapes!
Marina / January 16, 2013 at 04:19 pm
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I think Haven is a touch smaller than Coffee Pocket.. a tape-measure-off I say! Found this gem of a place on a whim following their sandwich boards arrow off Bloor = rad coffee ensued. Will certainly be back for more.
Ben / January 18, 2013 at 05:24 pm
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This place is so good. The guy who works there is literally the friendliest man in the world.
sumit / January 25, 2013 at 09:58 am
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I will definitely go there. what would be awesome if we fit as many people as possibly we can in there and then everyone orders a drink and tries to exit through the crowd...with all the shoveing an everything. YES
Peter / February 21, 2013 at 06:12 pm
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Double Americano & Gypsy cookie. Great coffee & a really delicious cookie. Wish I could stop by there every morning!
Tommy replying to a comment from Ben / March 30, 2013 at 09:53 pm
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I bet that friendly guy is Luke.
Web Wheeler / April 12, 2014 at 04:20 am
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Haven has its own website, http://havenespressobar.com/

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