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Redline Coffee and Espresso

Posted by Adam Vrankulj / Posted on October 19, 2010

Redline Coffee and EspressoRedline Coffee and Espresso at the corner of Queen and Parliament in Toronto's east end is a breath of fresh air for this part of Corktown, but still needs a bit of work before it has Toronto's espresso heads lining up for shots daily.

Previously a Savoury Grounds, Redline is now owned by Julie Van Der Lugt who took over the space earlier this year and has kept much of the same geometry, but injected a healthy dose of colour, has plenty of art by local artists on the walls and has built up the shop using completely second-hand materials.

Redline Coffee and Espresso BarTo Van Der Lugt, locality is important and she makes all of her second-hand purchases in the neighbourhood. The coffee is roasted locally, and Circles and Squares, a popular bakery among indie cafes in Toronto is where she sources her food.

Currently, Van Der Lugt is working with a Toronto-based chef to create a sandwich menu to add some more food to the shop's offerings.

Redline Coffee and Espresso BarThe name Redline comes from the constant stream of streetcars going by the shop during the day, and I happen to think this is one of the coolest and most uniquely-Toronto names I've seen for a cafe.

Upon walking into the space, the art on the walls is the first thing to catch my eye. Large canvases of brightly-coloured paintings line the wall to the back of the store and out to the patio. On the counter are brew systems, a small food stand and an old Italian espresso machine.

Redline Coffee and Espresso BarThe first thing I ordered was a single shot of espresso which came out way too hot and was slightly sour. Despite the way it tasted, the shot did have a nice head of crema, with a decent amount of tiger striping, which is why I dove into tasting this shot so hastily in the first place.

Next, I ordered a cappuccino, which was slightly better, but still not great. Served in a whopping 12 oz. cup, my cappuccino tasted as though the shot used was pulled too long, and gave the giant cappuccino a slightly watery taste. Also, the 12 oz. cup, which is almost 1/3 larger (or more) than the size I'm used to, made it hard to evaluate this drink as a cappuccino, as the way it was prepared made it taste like more of a latte.

Redline Coffee and Espresso BarThe best part of this cafe is the space. High ceilings, deep red paint on the walls, carefully-chosen second-hand furniture, and a patio out back make this place a destination for those looking to get cozy and cuddle up with a newspaper in an unmistakeably independent space.

Redline Coffee and Espresso BarA back patio in any cafe has a special spot in my heart- especially those in busy areas of the city. It's so nice to be able to sit outside, away from noisy and invasive traffic and just enjoy a coffee.

For Van Der Lugt, creating a neighbourhood destination with the environment in mind is a prime directive, and Redline espresso and coffee bar is well on its way to becoming that space. But the espresso system needs to be improved before it can service a coffee crowd.

Already, Redline has hosted a number of events for groups in the neighbourhood. So far there has been a VQA wine tasting, private parties and an independent film screening.

My overall impressions: A cool space with a local focus, and a taste for second-hand design. Go for the atmosphere and friendly owner, but don't expect much in terms of coffee.

Redline Espresso and Coffee bar is open Mon-Fri 7a.m.- 5p.m. and 8 a.m.-
4p.m. on the weekends.
Redline Coffee and Espresso BarPhotos by Dennis Marciniak



Thomas / October 20, 2010 at 02:12 pm
Love the art in the first picture.
eric / October 20, 2010 at 06:05 pm
I live right in the area, and will at least check this place out.
@sircelebritaire / October 20, 2010 at 06:58 pm
Looks a lot nicer than the coffee shop at Queen St E/Jones, I forget the name of it.
Norbert Boily / October 21, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Naz Tana / October 21, 2010 at 02:37 pm
Red Line - A gem of place. Coffee is only as good as the place you drink it at. Truly, Julie Van Der Lugt has just that perfect combo. Great space, great coffee and a vast selection of musical genres to compliment the experience. Need I not mention the best attitude a cafe can offer !!! Do yourself a favor, check it out.
Joey replying to a comment from Norbert Boily / October 21, 2010 at 03:30 pm
They're open weekdays from 7-5 and weekends 8-4.

Damn, learn to use Google already.
irina / October 27, 2010 at 07:38 pm
As soon as I saw the pics I knew it was Savoury Grounds. I liked it when it was Savoury Grounds. It was nice and dead. Too many people at a coffee shop make it annoying. Are those the same leather chairs from Savoury Grounds too? So what changed other than a splash of red paint? (or was that there already too) ... I'll check it out when I'm in the area again.
angela / November 3, 2010 at 01:05 pm
i almost stopped in but did not think much had changed since it was Savory Grounds. the area still smells, there was a condom right beside the sitting area and no one in sight inside. i saved my money for better coffee elsewhere.
MizMegs / November 7, 2010 at 02:55 pm
Probably one of the best things to happen to this neighbourhood in a while! I have to disagree with the writer, Julie's lattes are the best lattes I've ever had. Hands down. The fact that her coffee is organic completely rocks and she offers options like soy milk. Julie has re-vamped that place to make it warm and inviting with her redecorating and her personality! I go as often as I can!
willie / January 1, 2011 at 12:05 pm
As local coffee shops go Redline is a breath of fresh air in a otherwie burgeoning area that is on the upswing.
This would go unoticed in other parts of the City .But alas this is not the case,The neighbourhood has Welcomed the shop with outstretched arms.I think i will go and have myself a large Americano straight up.Come out and enjoy a steaming cup and Celebrate the New Year. Willie
Leo / January 19, 2011 at 02:17 pm
Savoury Grounds was a s***hole before. Julie took it over and brought in the best coffee and teas in the world. if you love your tim hortons crap in a cup, this place is not for you. its better than second cup and starbucks but not as expensive. the muffins and cookies are out of this world, who has ever seen a peanut butter cookie with homemade jam baked right in?? When she converted it to redline, the place is just amazing, good local artwork, clean, and amazing people that work and go there.
a wonderful addition to corktown. queen and parliament is becoming a great little corner!!!
Jason / February 21, 2011 at 07:03 pm
I had an espresso the other day. I drink a lot of espresso at a lot of places. I would rate Redline fairly high in terms of taste. Tarty, a bit of sweetness, and a slight afterburn. A big head of crema. I suggested to Julie that it tasted like a more refined shot from Jet Fuel. She replied "We share a roaster". The space has excellent light, the espresso is very good. Julie is like a triple shot of espresso. This is a place for serious art and up and coming artists. This place will become a player in the Corktown arts scene, no question. Much more than a place to buy coffee. Oh, and so much more interesting than the tired tatter of Savoury Grounds, which used to operate this space.
Karen / April 15, 2011 at 09:08 am
I just ordered an almond milk latte. It is by far the best non flavoured latte I have ever had. The atmosphere is brilliant, and you can definitely feel the local vibe.
Gareth / September 23, 2011 at 12:27 am
Stop in most days before work, has a genuine community vibe which provides an especially nice start to the day.
Graeme / October 31, 2011 at 04:38 am
I live in the area and go here all the time! I just moved in a few months ago, checked the other cafes around, and easily chose the Redline. Great atmosphere, coffee, and art! Not sure if its a permanent item on the menu, but if you have the chance, try the peanut butter and chocolate biscotti!
Mary / March 1, 2012 at 09:56 pm
Julie has created the most welcoming independent cafe on Queen Street East and Corktown is brightening up because of her and her team! The artists highlighted along with the focus on the great community work of the June Callwood Centre for Families put a positive spin on those walls. And I too agree with the other reviews that the latte is the best and the food is a bonus....there are no comparisons.
LD / March 7, 2012 at 08:35 am
I was looking forward to trying this place on my way to work... unfortunately it was very disappointing. My americano was a cup of hot brown water, tasteless, and I would have taken it back had I not been out the door already.
Anthony Russell / March 31, 2012 at 04:00 pm
This Cafe has a life of it's own. Let it flourish. it is what is needed in the area to bring the Community a Positive Visual Experience while having a moment to themselves yaking in what Julei has to offer them Visually. That's why i go, The visual stimulation let's me take a moment before and after dealing with my day. Thank You Julie...
Anthony Russell / March 31, 2012 at 04:00 pm
sorry about the misspelling Julie
james / January 28, 2013 at 12:04 pm
This cafe is kinda crap, my coffee is so weak it's practically water - i'm sure the guy just let water flow through used coffee. The dry chocolate brownie is expensive and tasteless. I gave the guy a $20 and he gave me $5 instead of $15 back. bland.
James / February 25, 2013 at 08:37 am
Obviously I'm not the James from the last comment. I love this place! The vibe is amazing and I've had some of the best Latte's here. Sometimes it depends who's working the machine but the beans are top notch and coffee's are fantastic.
Redline has become a real meeting place in Corktown, a place that was in desperate need.
Julian Bronte Glenn / June 6, 2013 at 10:12 pm
As plastic, pilfered and vapid as any number of the new "trendy" artsy cafes one passes over every day. The coffee is mediocre at best, the service staff are "putting on smiles" and the whole ambiance reeks of the "I have tattoos so I must be cool crowd". Not my cup of tea at all. Do yourself a favour and walk east 4 doors to Keeffaa Ethiopian and immerse yourself in something honest, original and inspired.
Bronte / June 6, 2013 at 10:28 pm
Not impressed. Like James said above, the coffee was watery and weak. I've lived right across the street for ever and I will continue to go elsewhere for my pick-me-ups.
Manisha / February 3, 2014 at 11:58 pm
Wow that was extraordinary. I just wrote an etrexmely long observe except later than I clicked suggest my observe didn't show awake. Grrrr satisfactorily I'm not writing all that over again. In any case, just sought to declare excellent blog!
David / July 3, 2015 at 12:20 pm
I LOVE RedLine! Check out this great interview I did with proprietor Julie. She talks about the pleasures of running her own business, and the joys of living and working in the downtown East. https://youtu.be/tBgzOf58kEw

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