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Cafes

Jet Fuel Coffee

Posted by Dar Mustafa / Posted on July 29, 2009

Jet Fuel coffee torontoJet Fuel Coffee is pretty rock n' roll, you know. Not folky or indie or garagey, but like, the good old-fashioned kind. The kind that drives a Harley.

Like any good rock star, the presence felt upon our first meeting is larger than life. Though I had previously never heard of this place, it sinks in pretty soon that I probably should have. Or I should feel like I should have.

Jet Fuel coffeeI will also soon realize that these are not some cool new kids on the Cabbagetown block, but a neighbourhood staple that has been working its Jagger (-esque) swagger since I was in short pants (1992, to be exact). Though the shiny chrome (and absolutely kickass sign!) looks hot off the assembly line, these guys have been around.

Jet Fuel torontoAll these feelings within the first minute spent. An imposing figure is cut by the steely counter that seems more from a bar than a coffee... bar. My nervous eyes dart around, looking for a beacon of equilibrium - some sort of list to detail the things I might buy, for instance.

I guess my disorientation is palpable, because the barista asks me - with terrific kindness, might I add - "you alright, love?"

Clearly, I am not playing it as cool as I thought.

"You need a coffee?" She seems concerned.

"I need a coffee desperately," I say with a heavy truth. It feels more like I am ordering a beer, and this is only further cemented by the sudden appearance of my Americano, poured in a tall and elegant pint glass.

Jet FuelI case the joint a bit more, and it becomes apparent that there is no case in which bakery treats might be stored. Very well, then. I ask no questions, and simply check out the glasses of my fellow patrons to see what this place has to offer. The fun-looking contraption behind the counter also gets my attention.

Jet Fuel"It's a lemon squeezer." I should have known.

"For lemonade??" my eyes widen.

"Lemonade, or hot lemon and ginger," she says. I write them on my mind's menu board, along with the London Fog I hear her call out to someone else. Yeah, I am in the know now.

Jet Fuel
Jet FuelI like the fact that they have regular sugar and cream, only for the fact that non-organic has become a bit of an anomaly, and thus, sorta dangerous. Ha. I like the long sundae-style spoons. I like the huge CD collection piled on shelves up the wall.

And I like the fleet of red-and-white "Jet Fuel" uniforms lined up beside them; something I can honestly say I've never seen at another cafe. Though I have no idea what they are for, they seem to convey a need for speed or some such badass thing (they end up being the uniforms of the cafe's very own cycling team). I really like the fact that they do not serve decaf--when I find out, many hours later.

And how I love hearing Bowie, the Stones and T-Rex all come bursting out of the stereo in glittering succession.

Jet FuelI take a cue from the heavily-populated sitting area, all engrossed in books and laptops and settle in pretty quickly.

With no food to keep my hands and mind occupied, I am grateful for some discarded reading material, and get comfortable. My coffee (their own special, CAFFEINATED blend) is strong enough that I will be feeling it for the rest of the day.
I chat with the barista, and recognize at least two familiar faces (one I am accustomed to seeing around town, one that I used to work with); overall, it's a pretty diverse group.

Jet FuelMost orders are called out by the customers' names. There is an easy and familiar interaction with nearly everyone that walks in. "We get a lot of regulars," she smiles. Yes, it would seem that way.

20090729_jetfuel_10.jpgShe implores me to try the frothy drink she has just expertly concocted. "The Guinness effect," she says, as we watch the bubbles float and settle. Pretty cool. And pretty much like a bar, again.

There is no way that I can ingest another ounce of espresso, and I don't want to waste a whole drink for a little sip, but she still insists I give it a go.

"Take a spoon, put some cinnamon on it, and eat it like dessert," she says, as though it's the most obvious thing in the world. But you know, it really should be.

"People feel very strongly about this place; they either love us or hate us," she shrugs. I won't realize how true this statement is until I go home and discover the unprecedented war of words between the lovers and the haters of this simple cafe on our very own blogTO listing.

Jet FuelIt's good to know that someone's still out there shaking things up. Rock on, guys.

Discussion

110 Comments

elliot laberge / January 19, 2008 at 04:53 am
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the service sucks... the coffee is good... but yeah, the service sucks real bad... they don't seem that motivated to do business.
tripper / March 27, 2008 at 04:22 pm
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I have heard lots of complaints amongst non-regulars about the terrible service at Jet Fuel.
GMD / March 28, 2008 at 05:19 pm
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Jet Fuel has a strong cycling presence, but I think it's time to retire the "popular among bike messengers" meme.
/ March 28, 2008 at 07:11 pm
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The service here is definitely on par with that of Ronnies Local 69.
2 thumbs down / May 31, 2008 at 03:40 am
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Definately the most overrated cafe in Toronto.
They should just close.
Service blows, and the coffee blows.

"popular among bike messengers" means "free coffee for bike messengers".
Do you really trust bike messengers to have discerning taste either?
David / July 20, 2008 at 03:24 am
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This place is overrated. They only serve espresso type beverages and the barista looks like he is stoned. If you are a coffee afficianado who want freshly roasted coffee blends look elsewhere, try Moonbeam, Dark Horse, or Manic Coffee.
jamesmallon / July 23, 2008 at 11:19 pm
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Sigh... Damned good coffee (sometimes), nothing to nosh, no menu. Minimalism is cool, but does it work for customers? The woman-owner pulls a damned good machiatto, but the other two times it was a damned capuccino: keep the milk out of my coffee, just foam on top. Why do I get that, yet 3/4 of the 'barristas' in this town can't? I don't want to explain that to bored coffee pullers: 1/4 already know, 3/4 won't care.

Jetfuel's gotta wake-up. Starbucks has bought across the street. I'd rather support local (and better coffee) but if you can't give me what I want, sorry.
go fuck yourself / July 29, 2008 at 09:28 pm
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actually i don't get my coffee for free, and i am a bike courier, and i know others don't either. as far as getting a free coffee every now and then cause you've been supporting the establishment for a while, that's another story. you won't get that at starbuck's. the jet fuel cycling team does. so don't be saying things that you don't even know. and maybe you should "just close" your mouth. as far as the menu or the lack there of, if you want a good latte or mocha or iced anything, or an amazing lemonaide, or iced tea, this is the place. and i don't really know how people can bitch about the lack of options, when they have had the same drinks for 16 years and they are $2 or $3. ane jet fule is obviously not a place to change with the times. if you want a frapuccino or a triple grande, non-fat, decaf, no foam, 120 degree latte, for $6. there's always starbucks. go for it. as far as overrated, i don't jetfuel ever asked to be rated. if people have expectations for every coffee shop to be the same then there wouldn't be as many independent coffee shops as there are. everyone has a different personality. deal with it.
/ October 11, 2008 at 02:45 am
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you guys are fucked. it's so cheap and delicious and the back patio is wonderful. crybabies.
bram fisher / October 13, 2008 at 07:45 pm
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i only make it to TO from kingston a few times a year but make a point of starting my day off at jetfuel. the coffee has been good, the muffins have a lot of fruit in them and i enjoy the atmosphere - it has its own buzz. supporting cycling as an urban form of transportation/recreation seems to me to be a good thing. i kind of enjoy real, unscripted service.
kjn / October 27, 2008 at 04:34 pm
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I don't want to know your life story, but maybe an acknowledgement of some sort, maybe a hello even, would be nice. I didn't even get to try their coffee. After standing around for a few minutes, apparently invisible, I left and probably won't go back.
megan / October 27, 2008 at 05:13 pm
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I have to say, I love Jet Fuel. Yes, the service can be surly, but I have always enjoyed the coffee I've gotten. Interestingly my partner and I were talking about it yesterday, and he said that it definitely has an 'exclusive club' feel to it, but that after you've been 2 or 3 times, you have 'passed initiation' and you're part of the club. Then you feel comfortable and, as silly as it sounds, a tiny bit proud to be part of the club, which makes you want to go there more. It's a kind of warped thing, but it's been our experience.

It's true that all they serve in terms of coffee is espresso based drinks, and there is no decaf, but if you need something with out caffeine why not try a lemonade or a lemon ginger - both served hot or cold and made from freshly squeezed lemons (the lemon squeezer thing is cool looking, I kinda want one...). Of, if you'd like, you can just stick to one of the herbal teas they offer up, or, if you want caffeine but no coffee try the amazing hot chocolate, or just some plain old tea.

At $3 for a large latte, $2 for a small latte, and (I think) $1 for an espresso the prices are hard to beat. Tea is $2. Freshly squeezed lemon things, and the hot chocolate, also both $3 (and also served in a pint glass, like the latte)

I have been known to use Jet Fuel as my office, staying for 5 or 6 hours at a time, taking advantage of the free wi-fi and yummy drinks.

It's true they don't carry food (except danishes and muffins until they sell out - usually around 9:30am), but they also have no problem with people bringing food in. So, sometimes, if I just want to have something a bit decadent and snacky I head around the corner and get a chocolate croissant from Daniel et Daniel and then bring it to Jet Fuel and enjoy it with a latte. (mmmmm)

I also often go to one of the many little places around and bring lunch in, or pack my own lunch from home. It's a pretty common thing, you see people doing it all the time.

Hmmm. This turned out to be a very long comment, and now I REALLY want a chocolate croissant and a latte, but I have a meeting to get to. :( Woe is me. :P
John Higgins / December 2, 2008 at 03:30 pm
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People who say the service sucks must be at the wrong Jetfeul... The Barista's are excellent and actully know how to make top notch coffee drinks, unlike starbucks where they just push a button and out comes a drink where they add whipping cream and chocolate or carmel syrup on top. No thanks.

JetFuel is a real coffee shop for people who appriciate good coffee, and not fancy marketing styles (tripple super grande this and the other mocha rasberry frap)
Going to Starbucks for a coffee is like going to McDonalds for Dinner. I can't get a long Espresso at Starbucks (Becasue there's no button for it), and I can't get Hamburger medium rare at Mcdonalds... See the connection. I can't wait for my next long espresso from JetFuel!
greek / January 2, 2009 at 04:35 pm
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a little loud at times, other than that its just fine. Infact its real nice to see an independant establishment in a sea of chains doing well. So too all you weepers,BOOHOo and lick the salt from my duo-matic. stanny greek
Macs / January 21, 2009 at 01:32 pm
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I recently moved to Toronto (Cabbagetown specifically) and I really truly wanted to like this place. I ordered a double espresso - the beans were stale and burnt (yuck!). Could have been an off night and would normally be willing to give Jet Fuel another go. BUT....

The cleanliness (or lack thereof) of the place was pretty disturbing. Barista had greasy hair and the worlds dirtiest fingernails- looked like he hadn't bathed in weeks. There were piles of both clean and dirty dishes behind the counter and there didn't appear to be a clear demarcation between 'clean piles' and 'dirty piles'. I wonder how often the dirty barista mistakenly gives customers a dirty cupped latte? The thought makes me shutter! Plus, counters were too coffee stained - I get that espresso will spill on the counter from time to time. When that happens, clean it up!!!

Bad beans, bad environment. Too bad - this place has potential.
Wad / January 25, 2009 at 08:50 pm
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Macs is a jerk-off - apparently.
Timmmmmmy / January 28, 2009 at 07:27 am
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Love this place! best coffee in Toronto by a mile. Awesome environment too. The art changes inside the shop all the time keeping it fresh. Good job!
Bradley / January 28, 2009 at 11:14 pm
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Also highly recommend Jet Fuel. After the first few times, bewildered by lack of menu, there's no problem with the service. In fact now when I walk in the baristas who know me just ask if I want my regular and I can nod and wander to a seat. If you want anonymous service from a megacorp, Starbucks is your bet. Jet Fuel's formula works though, it attracts a broad crowd and is very often full.
One a day / February 1, 2009 at 10:22 am
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Yes it can be intimidating at first, but the coffee is the best. It seems to be double loaded with caffeine so watch out if you drink more than one, you may get the shakes! The staff are kind of like me, no phoney in your face corporate friendlyness "hi my name is Manny and I'll be your barista today, have a nice day". Nope, they will get you a coffee with no fuss, and if your friendly so are they, and if you come back back and they get to know you they will start to kid around and share a joke etc.
One thing I was really surprised to see was all the local mom's and toddlers in there most mornings. I mean the cofees strong, the music is loud, and there is no McPlay centre for the kids. Instead they hang out in the back, and the staff know all the kids names and welcome them as they run through the place, their Mom's (and Dads too), get a kick of Java and catch up with the adults. This is my idea of a place you can get comfortable in a crazy kind of way.
Oh yeah, they make great muffins every morning for a buck a piece. They are not full of oil so they don't stay fresh all day, but no matter they're usually sold out by 10:00am anyway.
bt / February 3, 2009 at 07:09 am
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if you think the service sucks there is a timmmy ho's just up the street and i am sure they will give you good service. infact i am sure they would be fired if they don't give you good service. fired by the american corporation that is siphoning money out of the neighboruhood. and yes the HO in timmy'ho is the same ho that will give you head with a 3 tooted smile. now that's service.

Macs / February 6, 2009 at 07:45 pm
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Wad - are you the greasy barista?

Sure - the espresso may be good(I seem to have gone on an off day?), but doesn't cleanliness count for anything? I prefer an environment where there is a smaller risk of contracting a food-borne illness.

Try Manic instead.

Bob / February 8, 2009 at 05:08 pm
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Megan - your my hero

MACs - Let me guess you bought an over priced house to be trendy and relized you now live in "the city". You should move again.... to Mississauga. Cabbagetown does not want you.

and

one a day - hit the nail on the head. I love you.
Smitherman / February 13, 2009 at 10:17 am
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The espresso is better than average. Not quite up to Dark Horse or I Deal standards, but not bad for the price.

Service is nothing to write home about - clearly I haven't been enough times to be part of this elusive "club".

I do have to concur with the previous poster about the cleanliness. Completely sub-par.

As a note: this blog should be used to others make an informed choice about which places to visit. Making jabs at others that don't agree with your opinions seems rather immature.

essemee / March 7, 2009 at 01:20 pm
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I've been enjoying short single espresso at the JF for 15+ yrs. Regardless of the price the product is quality; the fact that it costs a loonie is a bonus.
To macs: you should get ur OCD treated by professionals. Its one thing to hav an opinion but to take it to a popular bulitin board/blog is more than a little unreasonable, especially given ur condition.
zus / March 13, 2009 at 09:40 am
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if anyone has tried the espresso drinks at mercury, dark horse, manic or crema, it would be clear immediately that they are leagues ahead of jet fuel. my husband and i have tried jet fuel many times, hoping for a good experience, and have always had mediocre coffee and absolutely terrible service.

kudos, though, for still managing to keep a following.
Nari replying to a comment from elliot laberge / March 31, 2009 at 02:33 pm
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I Agree...the service is horrible! They have really delicious coffee though. Once i ordered a coffee with soy milk...they didn't add it. Usually, I would have asked again, but for some reason I was nervous too. Jet Feul is like the "Soup" place on Seinfeld...you know "NO SOUP FOR YOU!!". The price is great as well...$2 gets your a delicious and rich coffee. I have really tried to like this place...but i guess that it isn't for me...Thank goodness a Starbucksa has now opened across the street.
David replying to a comment from go fuck yourself / April 5, 2009 at 08:00 pm
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Hey GoFuckYourself, go fuck yourself. It's guys like you that makes this place puke. What the fuck do you crack heads know about great coffee when you've got shit for brains.
John replying to a comment from essemee / April 5, 2009 at 08:19 pm
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essemee, Jet Fuel is passe precisely because of blokes like you. Cabbagetown deserves better and is in serious need of a coffeehouse for the connoisseur who appreciate coffee derived from freshly roasted beans. If you've travelled to the West Coast, you should know what I mean.

BTW, why is being a bike couriers considered hip in Toronto? How pretentious. As far as I am concerned, these guys are losers who can't get a real job in the city. That's why they are so angry in the threads above.
Vlad / April 6, 2009 at 05:19 pm
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wow, this is amazing! these comments read like a catalog of the consummate snobbery and pathetic consumer entitlement that make jet fuel's atmosphere and price such a welcome change to what most of Toronto has to offer. I, for one, am glad that most of the people that took the time to slander this unique and exceptional cafe wont be coming around to interfere with my enjoyment of it. enjoy your bland corporate swill and fear soaked insincere hospitality.
Kelly / May 1, 2009 at 12:09 pm
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Jet Fuel has cheap espresso-based drinks - I'm sure we can all agree on that. But - to sell inexpensive drinks to custumers - something has got to give - and they seem to be compromising on the quality of the beans. If you are a true coffee afincinado (e.g. anyone who owns a coffee roaster or a burr grinder) I would not go out of your way to visit this establishment. We live around the corner and we much prefer the brisk walk to Dark Horse. If you don't have such discerning tastes - give jet fuel a go - it's certainly economical.
unhappy / May 8, 2009 at 11:57 pm
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I am new in toronto and due to my disdain for all things starbucks and co I am making an effort to check out the espresso bars. This is based on my first and only impression of Jet Fuel so im sure (I hope) this is not typical.

The Barista was stoned... and not hilarious stoned, I mean just taken drugs in Grand Theft Auto stoned (moving at a snail's pace) and singing along to Enya. I had to put up with the typical 'I will aknowledge you in my own good time' crap but to be fair this is typical and the dude was stoned so he might not have notice me standing right in front of him...

Finally ordered a cappuccino (which in toronto I have come to expect consists of 1 shot espresso and warm milk with a thin layer of microfoam in a relatively small cup (i.e. less milk than a latte)(pretty much what we call a flat white back home).

I was served with a full cup of foam - literally no liquid it wighed the same as two empty cups... i just stared at it horrified. I was even more shocked when a typical 'barista fan' asked if I "wasn't happy". I said "this is just a cup of foam" to which she replied "um, it's a cappuccino". I have had cappuccino in rome, paris, sydney, tokyo, etc and never have I seen such a thing... Was i supposed to drink this, eat it, or breath it in? Confused and feeling ripped off I walked out without my cup of foam.

If you guys want to get all experimental fine, just think about maybe explaining to your customer that he/she is now in stoner ville where everything is in slow motion and you eat your drinks...

You can call a spade a shovel but it's still a (expletive deleted) spade ok and that was a cup of foam!

Still have a few promising places to check out in Toronto but so far the only places who kind of know what they are doing are Bulldog and Dark Horse (Queen East). Like many espresso places toronto has to offer, Rocket Fuel is big on the 'too cool for you' factor and sadly lacking when it comes to quality and service...
Matt / June 4, 2009 at 02:06 pm
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Wow, what a thread. Actually, I find the service fine, except that one Ryan Adams-looking guy--problem is, he`s there 90 percent of the time. He's not surly, just spaced out, and more likely to be chatting on the sidewalk or patio than tending the counter. He also plays the same classic rock records (or the occasional abrasive noise music) at extremely high volume. Which I like actually, but not when I’m trying to concentrate on a book/magazine/conversation.

My americanos are always very tasty, but I’ve got to make a point of asking them to pour it in a cup, not a pint glass (wtf?). They could definitely use some munchies.

If a better indie opened on the street I`d go there, but for a laid-back atmosphere and superior coffee, I’ll still go to Jet Fuel over Starbucks, where the coffee is meh at best, they automatically pour it in a to-go cup, and where the music and decor are a little too, uh, tastefully beige for my liking.

(But seriously, Ryan Adams-looking dude, keep the Zeppelin to a dull roar.)
Jane / July 16, 2009 at 01:45 pm
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I found my latte to be amazing, much better than Dark Horse (whose coffee I find a tad overrated).
And what do you mean poor service? The Ryan Adams dude actually sings beautifully while he works...
Jonathan / July 29, 2009 at 11:44 am
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I've never had a problem with the service. It's a laid back establishment and I find it a nice change of pace.
Lucas / July 29, 2009 at 11:44 am
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A visit to Jet Fuel is like a visit to a dominatrix. You're paying to be abused and mistreated, and you leave feeling dirty and used. Clearly there's a market for that.
Ryan / July 29, 2009 at 11:53 am
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Thought I'd add my 2cents as the neighbors of Jet Fuel because I was at one time pretty vocal about my disappointment with the service. What I have some to realize is it's not a franchise or even trying to be one. To use a quote from 'league of gentlemen': "it's a local shop for local people". And that's it, it's for Cabbagetown. I for one now find the fake smiles of Starbucks and the horrible service of any Tim Hortons in the City more frustrating. It's like a local pub you just hit it off with some servers more than others you just wait your turn, order, grab your coffee (pint) and go / other times you strike up a conversation. How people can celebrate the service at the establishments on Queen West but slag a local on the east end I will never understand.

I'm there for coffee and community if you're not then maybe it's not the place for you.
riles / July 29, 2009 at 11:58 am
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best coffee in the city - Hank's (Jamie Kennedy's cafe boite canvases customers about their espresso, and can actually give you the its taste profile if your palate cares), and Manic. That's it.
If you're headed out east, you'd do better at Mercury even than at Jet Fuel.
Carbonman / July 29, 2009 at 12:00 pm
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Wow. I haven't been to JF since about 93 when I lived around the corner, but it sounds like it hasn't changed a bit. HUGE coffees for cheap and the nagging feeling that maybe I'm not cool enough to be on the premises. Yep, that's Jet Fuel. Why mess with sucess? Kick-ass bike jerseys though.
Chadandy replying to a comment from go fuck yourself / July 29, 2009 at 01:08 pm
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A. Just because the other guy's an asshole doesn't mean you have to be one.

B. Yes, actually, Starbucks does give free coffee to regular customers, as well as free internet access, free beans, free pastries, free oatmeal, etc. As you wrote, don't be saying things you don't know.

C. I love Jet Fuel's coffee, and when the Starbucks moves in, I will choose which one I go to based on what I want that trip (like if, god-firbid, I should ever want a decaf mocha... oh, the horror), but let's be real: the service is and always has been terribly rude. You and I may see that as charm, but most people don't and won't.

Don't judge people for wanting a smile with their coffee. I, for one, hate perky morning service, but it's still better than bitchy afternoon service. Jet Fuel has its own snotty-better-than-you attitude, just like what Starbucks is criticised for having.

Jet Fuel is good for one thing: quick, strong, caffeine-filled goodness with absolutely no fuss.
LR / July 29, 2009 at 02:28 pm
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Echoing a lot of sentiments on here, I'd say the coffee is great. I'm not travelling across the city for a cappuccino. Jet Fuel is local, they have free wireless, good tunes, and their muffins are incredible if you can get there early enough to have one.
However, there's no denying the service can seriously put you off if you don't know what you're getting into. But I find the days I actually engage the staff, have a conversation, smile, etc. are the days things go a lot better for me. If I'M surly and miserable looking, who's gonna want to engage with me, even if I am a customer? And judging from these posts I'd say a lot of you are pretty surly and miserable all the time.
Oh, and they'll totally make soy beverages for you. Never had any problem with that.
Andrea P. / July 29, 2009 at 04:09 pm
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Awesome decor but one huge problem.

I used to live next door to this place. The first time I went in (2005) I was very friendly and asked for a coffee to go. The woman was incredibly rude and said "umm, yeah we don't serve coffee" and laughed with her co-worker as they helped the next customer in line. Apparently they serve everything BUT coffee which is odd since they are called Jet Fuel Coffee.

I never went in again and never would. Do they serve coffee now? I don't even care.
Mr_Swirly_420 / July 29, 2009 at 04:19 pm
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LOOKS LIKE THEY HAVE SOME NICE JUGS BEHIND THE COUNTER! HOOOWAAA!
james / July 29, 2009 at 06:19 pm
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As far as espresso goes, this place is alright. Stay away from milk drinks though. Every time I go in I look to see if they're properly cleaning their steam wand - and they aint.
chephy / July 29, 2009 at 08:00 pm
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Jet Fuel is cool. The sign is awesome. The cycling theme is good. And yeah, minimalism works for me. Cheap coffee, free wi-fi, no frills and no fuss - it's a good combo.

Coffee might not be the best in the world, but it'll do, especially for the price they charge. Never had any problems with the service. I order a beverage, I get it. What else am I supposed to get, smiles and kisses? I don't care for the fake corporate smile you get at Starbucks.
FuelRules / July 29, 2009 at 10:00 pm
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I don't live in Toronto anymore. It's been a long time since I was in Jet Fuel.
I like coffee a lot, especially espresso, and espresso based drinks. How can you drink it any other way? I've had some of the best from all over.
Jet Fuel is still one of my favourites. It has real atmosphere.
Maybe I'm biased though. I was introduced to coffee at Jet Fuel.
Zach / July 30, 2009 at 12:35 am
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Jet Fuel is a very popular coffee shop and has been successful for years and years.

You just tried it and decided all by yourself that it wasn't good? Great. You must be right... and the thousands of customers they've had over the years must ALL be wrong.

Just because you don't like something doesn't mean it's bad, it just means you have an opinion.

There's a lot of great coffee in Toronto. Relax.
Bonk / July 30, 2009 at 01:15 am
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If you're a miserable piece of shit please do not open a coffee shop or hire like-minded people to work in it.

Thanks.
Jen / July 30, 2009 at 10:40 am
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I went to Jet Fuel Coffee once and was laughed at for ordering a coffee. I spend my money at other places now.
keven replying to a comment from Andrea P. / July 30, 2009 at 11:44 am
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I find that about a few places in the city. Mercury being one of them, the exact same thing happened to me there.

It's one thing for them to say, hey we don't serve coffee, but can I recommend... But that's not the case at a lot of these places, they will just ignore you after that.

It's uber annoying especially when they don't have a menu.
caffineaddict / July 30, 2009 at 12:59 pm
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If you are at Queen West, check out T.A.N coffee. They recently have a profile here on BlogTO, I went, drank and am happy! for many of you who are unhappy.
joe / July 30, 2009 at 03:00 pm
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the place is really homey. the service was friendly when i went, but i don't understand the latte. it is literally 500ml of milk with a little coffee flavour. if i wanted that, i'd get a double double.
Pretentious and Overrated / July 30, 2009 at 03:52 pm
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Since when does being associated with bike couriers make the place hip? As far as I am concerned, they are low earning, drug addicted losers who, instead of bumming around Jet Fuel, should be looking for a real job. As far as the coffee, they only serve one kind: Espresso based drinks. I find the espresso to be OK, not great, it lacks the sharpness/smokiness that I am looking for. A great coffeehouse should serve freshly roasted, single origin, premium blend coffee and they do not. This place is way overrated and the people who rate it highly are simply pretentious and ignorant about coffee. Will Cafe Artigiano please come to Toronto!!!????
DavidC replying to a comment from Andrea P. / July 30, 2009 at 03:58 pm
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Agreed with you Andrea P. They are a bunch of stupid f*cking spaced out morons. The sign is misleading. You should have responded to them by pointing out that espresso is also coffee :)
Dr Benway / July 30, 2009 at 04:03 pm
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To me, JetFuel reminds me of Queen W prior to McDonalds on the corner of Queen & Spadina. When the Blockbuster was the post office and there were no major retail chains that would even WANT to open in that neighbourhood. That's why my wife and dog go there everyday to meet up with our kind of people - not people who give a shit about what music you're listening too or what brand you're wearing... and too your point, don't really give a shit if you want to drink overpriced shitty half-caf double decaf, venti-mocha, frappa-who-gives-a-shit.

The only talk that happened in regards to Starbuck's opening amongst staff and regulars was basically this, "thank god. Now all those douchey wanks will stop bitching about not knowing what to order - in a COFFEE SHOP!"

You want good service, try not walking in with the attitude and expectations.
DavidC replying to a comment from unhappy / July 30, 2009 at 04:12 pm
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Unhappy, I would recommend 2 places in Toronto: Manic Coffee on College and Bathurst, and Crema Coffee on Dundas St W near Keele. They both serve excellent americanos and Clover brewed coffee, and the baristas are very knowledgable and helpful. However, I still find the Toronto coffee scene far behind Vancouver and Calgary. The way the locals rave over Jet Fuel, and the ignorance of the baristas makes me laugh.
Pretentious and Overrated replying to a comment from Dr Benway / July 30, 2009 at 04:33 pm
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Dr Benway,

What is so wrong about having high expectations and wanting to be served in a non-abusive manner. Isn't the customer always right? The North American coffee scene has changed tremendously over the past ten years. People have traveled, been to places that define the independent coffee house. Therefore, their expectations are naturally going to he higher. I'm sorry but you sound like a dying breed.
Dr Benway replying to a comment from Pretentious and Overrated / July 31, 2009 at 03:14 pm
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Ahh... now I see the problem. You see it as a scene and it's a COFFEE SHOP! Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of regulars and there is definitely a bit of a "club" like feel. As another commenter had mentioned however, within like two trips you're in the club. Aside from the JetFuel Cycling Team - one of the most prolific and well known Canadian teams worldwide - and a smattering of messengers, most of that club is filled with Cabbagetown moms, local artists and toddlers now. To me, that speaks more of the old school Toronto "don't give a shit what you do or are into, so long as your down" attitude.

Unfortunately for you and your ilk, I am a dying breed. Because it was people like us who created all of the great things in this city the others have turned into vapid, lifeless passing fads and marketing shells of what they once were.

But don't you worry, at our current rate the city will be jammed full of homogenized big box stores and pseudo niche chains lining our SUV clogged streets and boulevards while everyone ignores each other to the throbbing rhythm of a million mall zombies texting each other needlessly.

Arby / August 1, 2009 at 05:20 am
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I very well remember my visit to Jet Fuel. A friend lived just up the street and went on about the place often. But it's probably all he knew. And that's okay, because if it does something for you, that's a plus.

I was with a different friend when I went in. (And I didn't know squat about culinary coffee at the time, even if I did love good coffee, which for me was Second Cup, which I still say makes good drip.) I had an Americano because I had no idea what else to order once I learned that I couldn't just have 'a coffee'. It was fine. The barista was fine, not overly cold and not overly friendly.

I am always happy to check out a new (for me) shop, whether it's one I end up liking or not. I don't get into trouble and my idea of a party is a paper in a coffee shop. I'm even more into exploring TO's coffee shops and restos now that I've got the desire to open my own coffee shop someday.

It's fun to find shops, like Bisogno, where the vibe is good and the owner is friendly and willing to talk shop with a stranger. But it takes all kinds. Some shop owners don't say much and give signs to you that they won't. Some shops are manned by baristas who gamely (it has to be hard work sometimes) try to be friendly and informative. And then there are those baristas who just look like they feel like they are in hell. They don't make you happy to be there. They kind of make you feel like you're a demon with a pitchfork, sticking them with it while they burn, even if you're a super nice person.

When I left Jet Fuel and started thinking about it, more, I realized I didn't like it at all. I have the impression, from reading here, that nothing's changed. Then again, in fairness, How often do you see change? No matter how many times you go back to the cafe where the music's too loud, you will still find it too loud. If the tables wobble like hell, they always will. If the drinks are too cool, they will always be. The machine that isn't up to snuff will always be there. The broken toilet seat...

In TO, now, you've got lots to choose from in the way of culinary coffee. For me, That's a plus, not just because I might not have a lot in the way of cool (in a positive sense) shops in my hood, but because, as a single person without a life, I enjoy tripping around and checking these spots out. I've met lots of friendly folks that way and talked shop with a number of owners and others, a plus for me now that I'm interested in one day having my own shop.

I would say that Jet Fuel shouldn't expect support if they don't care. It sounds like they don't. I hate attitude. I like class. I care when others care. When they don't, I don't - with a vengeance. Takers stink.
Charles Marker / August 1, 2009 at 12:42 pm
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All the above comments are correct. It is embarrassing that commenting people can be so rude, nasty and bitchy to each other.
megan / August 1, 2009 at 08:37 pm
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In response to the article, you know, instead of the comment feuding...

You mentioned how nice the barista was. Given the picture you've included, you got the nicest barista who works there. She's wonderful.

For some of the others what kind of service you get seems to be hit or miss and whether or not they're having a bad day.

But yeah, clearly people are passionate about how they feel about it. Me, I understand the people who love it there (like me) and I understand the people who hate it there. And I figure, live and let live.

I have no problem with people hating it, and find it perplexing that anyone would have a problem with me (or anyone else) loving it there.

Might not be the best coffee in Toronto, but I'd sure be sad to see them go if they ever did.

And, I have been there many times when they have said 'we don't serve coffee' and I've only ever heard it as 'we don't serve coffee, is an americano okay?'. Not in a snotty way. So maybe they've changed their tune on this one? And, yes, espresso is coffee, but if someone orders a coffee, generally they're talking about a brewed coffee, and may not want an americano. Personally I'd rather be asked if it was actually what I wanted, rather than the assumption made that I'll just have an americano instead.

LL / August 4, 2009 at 12:54 pm
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Okay coffee. Terrible service. Coffee bar staff, for the most part, are aloof and border on down-right rude with respect to their treatment of those who are not identified as 'regulars'.
If you want phenomenal coffee and friendly service to boot, head east to Leslieville. Mercury Espresso Bar and Te Aro are both great options.
LH / August 4, 2009 at 01:40 pm
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I've live in the hood and have so for the past 15 years now and have only been to JF twice. Both times the service was horrible. Went in with a hi and a smile and stood there for about 5 minutes each time while the barista ignored us. When she did acknowledge us, it wasn't with a "what can I get you" but with a hand on her hip as she just stared at us. I don't care for Starbucks but I'm tickled pink they are in the hood as an alternative to JF. Frankly, the couriers can keep JF to themselves. Funny thing is, alot of people who live in the hood don't care for JF either.
Arby / August 4, 2009 at 01:43 pm
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Te Aro is wonderful. The owner air roasts, which can produce weak coffee, by all accounts. I have been in there many times. The roaster has been experimenting with his roasting profiles with good results. (He's at the moment off to some special school or something having to do with roasting.) The first Americano I tried there was lifeless. They have improved greatly. The macchiatos, in my view, are your best bet here. The service is friendly and the veggie sandwhiches are good.
oldhipsters are funny / August 4, 2009 at 05:31 pm
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Phone number doesn't work, and neither does the email address. Isn't this place gone? I could have sworn the whole block was recently demo'd.
Not Fucked Up replying to a comment from Macs / August 7, 2009 at 11:30 am
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Macs should go find a dick and suck on it. A tight little priss to stupid to realize that a few dirty glasses waiting for the dishwasher means that the place does not spew waste and paper all over the city.
joss replying to a comment from Jen / August 8, 2009 at 03:13 pm
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Holy John I hope that you read all the comments... You need to do some serious changes .
Macs replying to a comment from Charles Marker / August 8, 2009 at 04:30 pm
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Agreed with you Charles. This thread is actually pretty hilarious to read - people are way, way too defensive. Nastiness compromises credibility - as do postings riddled with spelling errors.

I went to JF again and I stand by my original post. Stale beans, dirty barrista (I think it's the stoned one), dirty establishment. Ordered a macchiato - was more like a latte. But hey - it sure is cheap.
max / August 26, 2009 at 06:15 pm
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I've been a barista at various independent cafes for 7 years.
I go to JetFuel because they are in my neighborhood and I don't like making my own coffee on my days off.
I know what to expect when I go in there. Probably no one gives a sh*t about my order and probably I will get sassed.
Like, I wouldn't ever sass anyone before they've had their first cup of coffee.
There is no grace, no customer service, no anything special above and beyond.
And that is why an americano is $2.
johnny replying to a comment from Macs / September 10, 2009 at 10:35 am
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All baristas have dirty finger nails; they work with coffee. Most baristas have greasy hair because don't have time to shower before their 5AM bike ride to work.
aaaaa / October 3, 2009 at 02:28 pm
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i love jet fuel. the regulars are all wonderful characters who are open minded, friendly, hilarious and insightful. the coffee is yummy, as are their lemon/ginger concoctions, and really cheap. they are usually playing amazing tunes, (preferably) super loud.
and yea, if you go in expecting to be babied with a menu and an extremely tentitive barista.. you'll be disapointed. and rightly so because that sort of service is obnoxious. go have a good coffe, good conversation in a great neighborhood. quitchya bitchin folks.
Ashley / February 4, 2010 at 10:36 am
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I forgot to buy coffee and my other half had to go to Jet Fuel to avoid a headache this morning. He called me to ask me to bring home coffee so he doesn't have to go in there ever again. I've had the same experience so...
We've had it with being treated like crap by the people behind the counter when we ask for things like... a triple shot americano (seems simple enough), which we're both able and willing to pay for.
Hey, bad service. Sounds like the same story as everyone else.
Way to go, Jet Fuel!
Vegemite / February 20, 2010 at 02:48 am
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To all the poopie-pants out there:
In case you didn't get the memo, there's a Starbucks across the street now. If you don't like Jet Fuel--for whatever reason--just go to the Starbucks. Hurray for you!! Ergo, you need not waste time critiquing the finer points of service in what is (I hate to point this out) just a cafe--a great cafe, and one which I dig immensely, but just a cafe nonetheless.

In between frappa-foofoos, do consider the following ancient zen koan:
Perhaps, just maybe, baristas *should* be stoned.
Mmmmm.

Just saying...
rdk replying to a comment from Macs / February 22, 2010 at 01:29 am
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manic's pretentious and I've never seen the nasty nails except once when they were renovating the back area. But those guys weren't behind the counter.
webgoil / March 10, 2010 at 01:16 pm
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I am a 'regular' and once received an Americano with coffee grinds in it. I gave it back and said there are grinds in this coffee - I'd like another one. I was sassed for it, but a new Americano was made and there were no grinds in it. If you need something, just say so - directly - no need to apologize. If you get razzed, then razz them right back. They'll probably respect you for it. Also, they give you a free coffee on your birthday. How awesome is that? They know my name. They know my order. They don't ask me if I want something I didn't ask for. They don't blow sunshine up my ass. So, if you want THAT kind of customer service, then yeah... go to Starfucks.
webgoil / March 10, 2010 at 01:19 pm
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I am a 'regular' and once received an Americano with coffee grinds in it. I gave it back and said there are grinds in this coffee - I'd like another one. I was sassed for it, but a new Americano was made and there were no grinds in it. If you need something, just say so - directly - no need to apologize. If you get razzed, then razz them right back. They'll probably respect you for it. Also, they give you a free coffee on your birthday. How awesome is that? They know my name. They know my order. They don't ask me if I want something I didn't ask for. They don't blow sunshine up my ass. So, if you want THAT kind of customer service, then yeah... go to Starfucks.
littleworm / May 29, 2010 at 01:15 pm
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The coffee is great, but it's usually burnt. It's always a little heartbreaking to receive what could be a great cup of coffee and receive a brew with such a strong taste of ash.
fully_caffeinated / June 23, 2010 at 11:33 am
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Their service sucks. Never going back. In my opinion, there are a dozen other coffee bars which serves better coffee than Jet Fuel.
mondayjane / June 23, 2010 at 04:32 pm
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Jet Fuel is great. It's its own thing - Johnny knows how to run the place, and how to keep the customers he WANTS to come back for years and always be loyal. For customers he does NOT want, it is fairly obvious. I respect his no-ass-kissing way of doing business and remaining true to his values as a cafe owner. As the article states, he has operated this original landmark in Toronto long before indie coffee joints became popular. <br>Starbucks can suck it with their Scarlett Johannsonn CDs, $5 crappy lattes and passive-aggressive corporate preppies behind the counter.
Hugh P / August 24, 2010 at 10:45 am
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Service is okay here - haven't had any blatant rudeness (like the guy at Bulldog) but haven't been bowled over by the amazingness.

Espresso is horrible. I've been a handful of times over the past year or so - each time the beans have been noticably stale. Crema is non-existant or disapears within seconds of the pour. I've also had grinds in my drink on more than one occasion. I can make better espresso and espresso-based drinks at home.
Diane / September 11, 2010 at 12:06 pm
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I love this place. I live in the neighbourhood, and there is nothing more "cabbagetown" then Jet Fuel. The coffee is great, the people are great. Nobody cares who you are or what your into. And I've never found anyone - barista or customer - that isn't friendly.
Hipstalgia / September 16, 2010 at 10:10 am
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Me and my co-worker constantly debate the merits and demerits of Jet Fuel. He likes the place and I don't. We spent some time today finding hilarious posts about Jet Fuel, most from this column. So I decided to make my own.

I'm not a connoisseur but the coffee tastes good to me, I like the decor, my complaint is the service. There are enough posts above this one, that it is obvious this is a trend. What I find most interesting is that the proponents never argue that the service is good, they just say things like "However, there's no denying the service can seriously put you off if you don't know what you're getting into", "They don't blow sunshine up my ass." or my personal favourite "You want good service, try not walking in with the attitude and expectations.", I seriously teared up after reading that. It is clear, the service leaves something to be desired and customers have either accepted it, don't care or don't say anything. I've never said anything, until now, and put up with it for the price (which has recently gone up and are only slightly below Starbucks, for what I drink anyway).

I(we) are not asking for outstanding service we're asking for a modicum of courtesy. You don't have a menu, that's your decision, but be aware that you don't. When someone asks for something that you don't make, tell them what you do make rather than laugh at them. I don't need/want Starbucks level service, a "Hey, what can I get you?", if you get even that, not laced with attitude would go over well. What I am trying to say is, the service is a 2 or 3 and I'm not asking for a 10,9,8 or 7 not even a 6. A 4 or 5 would make all difference. It might even stop people like me who would rather support a local business and artists by extension from walking across the the street to Starbucks.


CW / November 18, 2010 at 02:47 pm
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I remember clearly my first visit to this place. I was in a rush and in dear need of caffeine so I popped in to get a coffee. Upon arriving at the counter I asked for a coffee and was glared at. Literally. I was then surly told they don't "do" coffee, only expresso and that I was now holding up the line. Needless to say I left very annoyed and have been dutifully warning off potential customers ever since. I know there are 'infamous' for their attitude but they don't come off as cool and aloof, instead they are just disrespectful. I truly hate starbucks, but at least they will give you a drink without any hassle. Don't waste your time here, this place is pretentious (more so then starbucks I dare say) and will hopefully go down the tubes soon.
Beefcake / February 8, 2011 at 09:49 pm
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The "JF" as we so referred to it for roughly 10yrs. Its hip, its dirty and there are a lotta wanks in there that think they're the shit. There was always this tool in there with his camera around his neck trying to look important. What a looser. My friend and I that would hit the JF regularly would always mock him behind his back. We are both professional photographers with a studio and no one ever new because we didnt feel it necessary to wear our cameras around our necks. I havent been there in a couple of years but if you are a regular then you'll know who Im talk'n about. Anyway, aside from a few heros the place had a great vibe and the lattes were strong and Jonny was always cool. You go to the JF for the experience. If your a pussy and your feelings get hurt by the barista then you're obviously in the wrong place. Go across the street to pussyville.
semiskimmed / February 13, 2011 at 01:12 pm
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I've been there for several times not completely from my own will, but because one of my friend likes there and kinda an approved member of the "exclusive club". Although I felt I was treated as a human being while I was with my friend, I was still turned off by my experience of my first visit alone. It felt like I owed his money or i was a closet Rob Ford fan that he saw me through, and so I deserved some cold treatment.
Hypothetically, even though this place is able to pull off some highest quality whatever drinks, i would not be willing to go there voluntarily to be treated as second class citizen.
There's nothing to do customer-entitlement, but simply an imperative self-awareness of being an a-hole. For those frenetic Jetfuel fans, simmer off! You guys react like somebody slandered our great Canadians as horrible as those nationalists of Americans.
Daniel / June 7, 2011 at 05:02 am
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Jet Fuel coffee is the most overrated coffee shop in Toronto.
Their coffee is terrible compared to Bull Dog or Dark Horse. And their service is awful.
Don't waste your money.
Mex / July 19, 2011 at 10:36 pm
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After getting hassled about wanting a 3rd espresso shot in his Americano that my husband expressly wanted (and would be willing to pay for) he essentially got boo'd out of the store by the barista who was convinced a double ought to be enough. I'm so glad we've moved out of Cabbagetown so I don't have to even look at their sign.
I hear they were awesome in like, what? 1994? Too bad Johnny doesn't work behind the bar anymore.
paul / September 1, 2011 at 10:41 am
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Shitty service. Smug assholes. But they're proud of it, so whatever.
Diane G / September 23, 2011 at 08:01 pm
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I love this place! I go every weekend and the place is packed - do you really think all these people think the service is bad? Service is faster then the Starbucks across the street, and at least the people are real and not a bunch of teenagers from Richmond Hill. Hands down best coffee too. And the danishes are great.
Cameron / September 29, 2011 at 03:04 pm
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I don't mind the surly service because the coffee's great and I don't feel obliged to tip.
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don / December 30, 2011 at 10:41 pm
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Home away from home. If ya don't like the staff or the service...fuck off. You're not wanted; so go elsewhere. Great people...thanks to the Fuel Gang
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Gline replying to a comment from Ashley / January 2, 2012 at 07:33 pm
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Hey bitch, maybe you should buy yourself a coffee maker, and your own coffee, so that you can drink it all night long without feeling insulted. Hopefully, that'll keep you out of Jet Fuel.
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AUGH / January 9, 2012 at 10:39 pm
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I have been going to jet fuel for about two years now, at first with a friend who was a regular, also a bike messenger, so I got a heads up on what to expect. I wasn't there to make friends with the baristas, or be asked how my day was going, I just wanted a strong americano, which is exactly what I got for 2 dollars and then a buck tip. I go to jet fuel almost everyday now, i love the place, some of the baristas recognize me and say hi, crack a smile, whatever, I look at it as a bonus, you can't be so weak and expect everyone to be so super nice to you. They run a stellar business and don't need everyone to like them. There are a million places you can get coffee, but it you want a jet fuel coffee, you're gonna have to toughen up.
alek ramzi / January 10, 2012 at 09:38 pm
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The funniest thing I ever saw on blogto was the interview with jetfuel barista, I am sure 80% of them are not true but even 20% of them be true this place must be a disaster will check it out this week .....

alek ramzi / January 13, 2012 at 08:06 pm
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place is a disaster if you order a capp you'll get a giant foamy thing....
advance pending / February 3, 2012 at 06:42 am
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YumKafes / April 15, 2012 at 12:30 pm
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Coffee is good and that's all I need to jump-start my day. I tend not to critique things at 9 in morning, plus I am only in there for 2-5 minutes, so... yeah.
jcitizen / September 18, 2012 at 03:31 pm
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On paper Jet Fuel is kinda the worst. Weirdo drinks that bear no resemblance to the intended style, oft-crazed attitudinal staff, "roadies" everywhere, no real menu, and music that is generally way to fuckin' loud; all describe this one of a kind cafe. But off the sheet I love this joint. It was my first foray into espresso after Starbucks. I'll always have a soft spot for it, and so will be unable to give a really objective review of the place. That said, for all the crazy burnt milk and attitude in that place, the ice lattes are still about the best in the city. Numerous summer days I can't wait to roll by there for some of that milky, chocolaty goodness after a big ride in the Don. Their hot drinks are pretty good as well, but won't be appreciated by the snobs out there. The roast is deep, dark, and as mentioned "chocolaty" as heck, which works really well with milky drinks. But if you dig true cappuccinos or a macchiatos I’d look elsewhere, 'cause at JetFuel they are all the same dry affair.

JetFuel is a Toronto institution of which we have few. It is a real asset to a funny and somewhat limited section of the city, and a place where many locals often flock. So I say try it out for sure, but just take it with a grain of salt. It's got a lot of "personality", but one that a lot of people love.
Tom replying to a comment from jamesmallon / September 28, 2012 at 02:28 pm
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Haha, you sound like a jackass.
fame / April 16, 2013 at 10:59 am
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I tried your new competitor amazing coffee ,thank god we can drink proper coffee in area from now on ,you guys will be out of business very soon if don't make giant changes in quality and service and stupid staff.
saba / April 16, 2013 at 11:06 am
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you deserve to loose costumers to olya ,you guys are bad people with bad service bad attitude bad coffee.
rafie / May 21, 2014 at 09:02 am
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Yellow condition is not fair they should close *hit hole
rcm / May 21, 2014 at 04:01 pm
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Great spot. Delicious coffee, nice atmosphere (great tunes!) and a relaxed, laid back vibe. I saw that some people complained about service but I prefer someone to be genuine and surly than fake cheerfulness (though in my experience all the staff has been nice). I just saw they got a yellow conditonal pass for a single infraction but they don't even serve food so I don't see what the harm is.
john kingstone / September 29, 2014 at 09:34 am
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Yes Guys and gals I finally made it. All the out to
warden.
I guess that it was back in 1999 that I first heard the expression "donut ride". I'm not sure if it's called that anymore, but that phrase has always been way in the back of my mind. It's been seven days since, and despite turning forty-five in June, I'm still on my feet, fretting about laundry, anticipating my morning Americano, and thinking about my Jet Fuel socks that I bought... was it back in January?
The real thanks goes to my parents from whom I must have aquired or inherited (or both, I'm not sure) A Real Set of Lungs.
stonerjoe replying to a comment from Pretentious and Overrated / October 4, 2014 at 01:47 pm
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caffe artigiano just opened up on Yonge south of King :)
tee / October 9, 2014 at 04:39 pm
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it's fucking amazing here and always has been. Cool vibe, douchebags stay at dark horse. keep slagging the real deal for your overpriced facades. coffee great, environment great, overall perfect place to enjoy music, flavor and a place to work.

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