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Cafes

Sense Appeal Coffee Roasters

Posted by Adam Vrankulj / Posted on November 18, 2010

Sense Appeal TorontoSense Appeal Coffee Roasters is the coffee shop I've been waiting to find. Some of the most delicious coffee I've ever had, a groovy bare brick space and an impressive rotating food menu, make this a coffee shop everyone in the city should hit up.

Open for only a week and a half, the guys at this shop gave out free coffee for the first week to announce their opening. According to the owners, there was almost a constant line-up to the back of the store for the entire week.

Sense Appeal TorontoWhen I first walked in, I was greeted by a smiling Sameer Mohamed, and given a choice of espresso to chose from. "Show me what you've got," I said. Mohamed is the kind of barista who loves to get excited about coffee and explain in great detail what it is that you are drinking. This passion is why the owners of this shop have Mohamed in charge of their coffee program.

The shot was passed to me, and I instantly understood these guys are the real deal. A thick, elastic head of crema with consistent tiger-striping had my mouth watering before I could even pick it up.

Sense Appeal Toronto"Give it a stir," I was instructed, and let me just say I love when baristas do that. There is nothing better than a barista who knows exactly how an espresso tastes best. He was right, this shot was absolutely fantastic. Smooth and sweet, I couldn't get enough. A blend of Panamanian beans, this was honestly one of the best shots Ive ever had. Tasting that coffee reminded me of the first time someone pulled me a shot of BlackCat in Toronto.

Sense Appeal TorontoBy the time the second shot came around, I really wasn't sure if it could be as good. I was starting to regret the order in which I tried their coffee. Was the best over? Definitely not. The second shot, a blend of South American and African beans, was also outstanding. Slightly beefier than the first shot, and a sharper sweetness to finish, this shot was a winner.

Sense Appeal TorontoBesides espresso on the menu, Sense Appeal serves seasonally changing signature flavoured lattes, but don't let the name "flavoured latte" freak you out. These drinks aren't made with a sugar syrup. Instead, they are flavoured with natural reductions, purees and caramel. Owner Peter Adamo is a sommelier, and brings much of his experience with food and drink menus to this shop on Spadina Ave., explaining to me that no menu of his is static, and that everything on the menu has been carefully considered.

Sense Appeal TorontoIn an attempt to get a better understanding of the kind of food and coffee to serve, the fellas at Sense Appeal are going to be using their customers as a sample to determine specific coffee and food pairings in the shop. Daily-made brioche and varietal polenta scones, are often gone before noon each day, and despite the fact that it was opened less than a fortnight ago, the neighbourhood knows these guys have got a good thing going on.

Sense Appeal TorontoThe coffee used in this shop is sourced through both a direct-trade relationship with a number of South American coffee farmers, and through auction. Adamo has a keen sense of what's good, and favours his system for the sake of equitability and control. For example, with the system in place, Sense Appeal can avoid importing coffee from regions they know haven't had a good harvest, in favour of a good crop. Once their coffee arrives, it is roasted locally and left to rest and de-gas for a few days before serving.

Before turning into a coffee shop, Sense Appeal was roasting coffee in an exclusive agreement with select 5-star hotels.

A shot of espresso will run you $2.25, a latte $3.75 and the French press of the day (16 oz) is $1.75.

Sense Appeal, at 96 Spadina Ave., is open from 8-7 Monday to Friday and 9-6 on Saturday. Sense Appeal TorontoPhotos by Dennis Marciniak

Discussion

78 Comments

Judylicious / November 18, 2010 at 03:37 pm
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<i>these guys are the real deal</i>

I couldn't possibly agree more. This might be the finest espresso in the city, both in taste and in how it's sourced.

The bar is raised for everyone.
namez / November 18, 2010 at 04:19 pm
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As a name, Sense Appeal Coffee Roasters is deliciously awkward.
Qasim Virjee / November 18, 2010 at 04:49 pm
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Whoah! Good job Sameer! Great to see that someone from my schooldays in Nairobi is bringing more great coffee to the neighborhood! :)
John / November 18, 2010 at 04:59 pm
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I found their espresso to be sour and unpleasant, much like Dark Horse's. Even worse than chain coffee.
Nick / November 18, 2010 at 05:17 pm
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It wasn't until moving to New York did I realize how lucky Torontonians are for coffee. There's a lot of coffee shops here in New York, but a dearth of GOOD coffee shops. Toronto's lucky to have that type of scene.
Sameer replying to a comment from John / November 18, 2010 at 05:18 pm
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Hi there John, I am sorry that you had such a negative experience. We do actually have 2 styles of espresso. I would love for you to come back and sample something a little different. One of our coffees is a little frontal-palette, which is where I believe you felt the sourness.. Come in and I will make sure you are not disappointed again. Best,

Sameer from Sense Appeal
Alex / November 18, 2010 at 07:09 pm
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The competition of good coffee in Toronto is one I can wholly get behind. No feelings hurt, only delicious coffee to be had. Thanks for a heads up on the next place I'll try out.
Oink / November 18, 2010 at 08:15 pm
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Went there today and had the BH americano and also tried their Cappuccino. Both were fantastic. Much love and passion put into their coffees. Too bad there wasn't more room to sit but I loved it anyways.
Joe Scratch replying to a comment from John / November 18, 2010 at 08:16 pm
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Espresso to some is an acquired taste, much like Scotch or Wine. I have come to appreciate good espresso much more in the past few years after visiting such places as Dark Horse, Manic, Sam James, Bulldog, Green Beanery, and so on. You may learn to like, then love their espresso as it compares to others that you taste from Starbucks, Lettieri, or Second Cup. That being said I will be looking forward to see what they have.
dobermanmom / November 18, 2010 at 09:41 pm
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oh i'm so happy this place has decent shout-outs!
i can't wait to try it out ... too bad you don't have anywhere out front where I can tie my dog up :(
Otherwise, I would have visited sooner!
Sameer replying to a comment from dobermanmom / November 18, 2010 at 10:39 pm
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Hey Dobermanmom,
We will work on having something out front for your dog. Wish you the best and see you soon!
Sameer from SENSE APPEAL
bob / November 19, 2010 at 12:21 am
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Great coffee, decent prices... woo
sam / November 19, 2010 at 12:22 am
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Too bad there is no menu (updates) on the website... and I wish there was more food! Inform us on what food goes well with the latte flavour of the day....
Michelle / November 19, 2010 at 08:13 am
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There's an undertone that Dark Horse has something be concerned about. I think we should be celebrating the fact that it's an independant business, in an area that has been swallowed by retail franchises. Sense Appeal is really not a competitor for Dark Horse, because Sense Appeal is south of Queen, and their nearsest coffee neighbour is actually Letteri. Fact is, Dark Horse continues to be the only coffee shop north of Queen on Spadina, serving a huge area, with the next closest options being in Kensington. Not to mention, Sense Appeal sounds a bit different, if there is more of a focus on food.
Peter Adamo replying to a comment from sam / November 19, 2010 at 10:27 am
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Thank you for the recommendation. That is a very good suggestion.

Peter Adamo
Sameer replying to a comment from Michelle / November 19, 2010 at 11:46 am
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Hi there,
Thank you for your post. We are very heavily focused on our coffee! Everything that we do in addition to that is based around the coffee. The idea is that we would like everything that we do to compliment our primary objective, which is, our coffee!

Cheers,


Sameer from SENSE APPEAL
CDubs / November 19, 2010 at 01:48 pm
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These guys make the best Americano I've ever had in my life. If you like Espresso or Espresso based drinks, it's a must try.
HHH / November 19, 2010 at 02:54 pm
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I went there a couple of times during the opening week, and was excited that there was a new coffee joint near my work. I was also excited to see their pricing (2.25 for americano, latte, cappuccino.) Even though I am an americano drinker myself, it was nice to see that I have alternatives at the same price point.

Upon returning during the second week, I saw that they had put up stickers over the old prices and increased them significantly. This just left a really bad impression in my mind and have not been back ever since. Their Bh americano is tasty but still not as good as Jimmy's which is still one of my favourite coffee shop.
Joe Carter / November 19, 2010 at 03:38 pm
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I couldn't recommend the Turkish latte more. It was my first time having something like this and I KNOW its a rarity among the coffee shops in Toronto. It was amazing and an amazing change when the flavours of coffee begin to feel mundane. Also, the pumpkin spice was delightfully not-sweet and full of real flavour. I could not recommend this place more. Even when the place was lined up out the door and I ordered the obviously time consuming Turkish Latte, the barista turned with a bright smile and said "let me show you how we make them!"

I'm in.
Peter Adamo replying to a comment from Joe Carter / November 19, 2010 at 05:11 pm
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Thank you for the compliment we work hard on these beverages. Next week we will be introducing 2 new seasonal drinks one of which which is a Marron Glace Latte. Candied Italian chestnut puree, OA Espresso, Steamed Milk, and a Chestnut crème anglaise.
Sameer replying to a comment from HHH / November 19, 2010 at 05:40 pm
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Hi there HHH,

Thank you for stopping by and checking us out. I am glad that you found our BH americano tasty. We believe that we did mislead many of our customers by our initial free promotion week, having those prices on the board. That menu was placed there simply for a visual indication of our lettering. We should have taken it down before opening our doors, and that was a mistake on our part.
We would love to have you come back and try our other 2 styles of americano, I would in your case recommend the OA americano.
Best,

Sameer from SENSE APPEAL
KMel / November 19, 2010 at 10:25 pm
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Wow, business owners who respond directly to their customers and do so in a conscientious way. Are either of you single? ;)
Sameer replying to a comment from KMel / November 19, 2010 at 10:58 pm
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LOL! KMel, you are a funny one.. :) see you soon?

Sameer from SENSE APPEAL
lawrence / November 20, 2010 at 06:59 pm
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it's all true, from my first visit... I preferred the Bh, over the Oa and M spro's, but I am into bright and fruity espresso.

Good luck, hope you're successful!! Good to see an alternative roaster in TO that doesn't have black and oily beans in their hoppers !!!

http://espressosnob.wordpress.com/2010/11/20/nov-20-senseappeal-coffee-spadina-ave/
Lucy / November 21, 2010 at 03:17 am
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Their expresso is excellent,one of the best i ever tasted.I also tried their italian sodas,and they are truly amazing!way to go guys,best of luck...
HKTHN / November 21, 2010 at 04:50 pm
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I went there yesterday, after reading all those great comments.
I was eager to try some of the magic they are said to serve!

I found the guys working there friendly and helpful, visibly proud of their coffees. (One of them even spoke to me in French, after I told him from where I am originally - that's a great way to make a customer feel welcomed!)

The cafe itself is not big, unfortunately it doesn't have much seating available, so it's not the place where you'll linger on the entire morning. Also, when I went at 2 pm, there was no food left.

However, seating or no seating, desert or no desert, I'll be definitely going back, as their coffee alone is worth the visit! I found their OA Americano smooth and flavourful, and the Turkish shot I was given to try was suprisingly good. (I admit, I still prefer my Turkish coffee done the old-fashioned way, but theirs was close enough to the real thing).

Cityplace / November 23, 2010 at 12:56 pm
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Can you purchase beans? If you can, I will stop by today after work...
Cityplace / November 23, 2010 at 12:56 pm
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Can you purchase beans? If you can, I will stop by today after work...
Peter Adamo replying to a comment from Cityplace / November 23, 2010 at 02:46 pm
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Yes you can.
HHH / November 24, 2010 at 03:49 pm
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Just a quick comment to the guys behind the bar. Don't ask people "Isn't this the best (blank) you've ever had?" Because it is awkward when we have to tell you that it isn't.
Sameer replying to a comment from HHH / November 24, 2010 at 04:15 pm
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Hi there HHH,

Thank you for your post. You are correct in saying it feels a little awkward. What we are hoping to achieve by asking is that if it is not, we would love to be able to better our product so that it is one of the best.. We will make sure not to ask that way again.

Best,

Sameer from SENSE APPEAL
iamvege replying to a comment from Sameer / November 24, 2010 at 09:56 pm
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Does this place offer soy lattes?
Sameer replying to a comment from iamvege / November 24, 2010 at 10:12 pm
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We do offer soy lattes. We also offer almond milk and lactose free milk. Hope to see you soon
Jaya / December 11, 2010 at 08:53 pm
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I was just thinking how we need more full experience places in Toronto when I saw the article in the paper. I Love how the curtains are made from the coffee bean bags, the bar and how you guys personally answer to people's comments and complaints also adds to the experience. But, what about the website??

Haven't come in yet, but can't wait to, and love how there is food also!!!

Xxx
Sameer replying to a comment from Jaya / December 11, 2010 at 10:00 pm
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Hi there Jaya,

We hope you can make the trip out soon. As for the website, we are working on it and will definitely let you know when we make update it. Looking forward to seeing you.

Sameer from SENSE APPEAL
Joel / January 4, 2011 at 11:24 am
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I went there on December 31. The doors were open but they said it was closed! Disappointed. Went to Dark Horse instead.
Sameer replying to a comment from Joel / January 6, 2011 at 09:13 pm
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Hi there Joel,

I am sorry we could not serve you when you stopped by on the 31st. We were in the process of ironing out our new coffees for the season and as a result had to spend that time tweaking our blends. I really hope you can stop by again and introduce yourself... I will be glad to give you a full tour of our coffee menu.

Sincerely,


Sameer from SENSE APPEAL
Cindy / January 11, 2011 at 12:21 am
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Sameer! Found your blog and leaving a note to say thank you again- the barista training with you and Dawson and Matt is probably one of the most exciting experiences in my life! You guys are great! Would love to visit your cafe soon. Keep in touch.

NB I had soooooooo much caffeine yesterday that my heart palpitated so fast that almost jumped out of my mouth!
Sameer replying to a comment from Cindy / January 12, 2011 at 04:02 pm
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Hi there Cindy,

It was an absolute pleasure teaching you and Gina on Sunday. Hope you make it sooner rather than later!

Sameer from SENSE APPEAL
Amita / January 12, 2011 at 09:47 pm
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Had to check out Sense Appeal after reading about it on this site. Finally went today with a friend and they didn't disappoint. I got the turkish latte and a brioche - both were delicious. I'm no coffee aficionado but after visiting this place I don't think I can go back to Tim Horton's. We stayed for a good 2 hours chatting and no one tried to make us leave (my sincere apologies to the owners if our girl gossip was grating on your nerves). Overall, I loved it and will definitely be back. Thanks Sameer -> and yes, I expect you to reply to this comment!
Sameer replying to a comment from Amita / January 13, 2011 at 11:22 pm
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Hey there Amita,

Thanks for the post! Your girl gossip is always welcome! Will definitely make you something special the next time you are in!

Cheers,

Sameer from SENSE APPEAL
J.so / January 22, 2011 at 12:52 pm
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The was very well designed, very modern, but sadly the barista who served us seemed inexperienced and gave us a terrible batch of lattes and cappuccinos.
Sameer replying to a comment from J.so / January 22, 2011 at 03:44 pm
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Hi J.so

I am very sorry for the batch of coffees you received at SENSE APPEAL. Some of our baristas are still undergoing intense training. I hope you stop by once again and give us the opportunity to make it up to you on-the-house. Please introduce yourself and I will be glad to have those re-made for you. We will also give you a guided tour of our coffees.

Sincerely,

Sameer from SENSE APPEAL
Faisal / January 22, 2011 at 06:06 pm
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Hey Sameer, loved Sense Appeal!!! Great atmosphere, amazing service and the coffees are amazing!!! Will definitely be telling my friends to come by for some java. All the best. Cheers.
Sameer replying to a comment from Faisal / January 22, 2011 at 11:09 pm
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Hi Faisal,

Thanks for the kind words. Hope to see you again soon

Sameer from SENSE APPEAL
Jaya / January 23, 2011 at 02:49 am
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Best way to start your morning ESP on your bday!!

<3
Derek / January 24, 2011 at 10:32 pm
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Sense Appeal does it right. Anyone that enjoys quality needs to check this place out. I haven't checked out their Cappuccino yet, but I can honestly say that it's the best espresso I've tried in Toronto.
Sameer replying to a comment from Derek / January 24, 2011 at 11:14 pm
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Hey Derek,

Appreciate the props! Come by for a few more espresso shots.. got something special lined up! Maybe get you that Cap too...

Sameer from SENSE APPEAL
CVG / January 27, 2011 at 12:00 pm
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Do they have wifi and a place to sit?
Sameer replying to a comment from CVG / January 27, 2011 at 01:12 pm
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We do have wifi and place to sit. See you soon

Sameer from SENSE APPEAL
Sameer Vasta / January 28, 2011 at 06:27 pm
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Best americano I've had in the city. Can't wait to head back.

Plus, I think Sameer is an excellent name. :)
Susan / February 10, 2011 at 12:15 am
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The good: everything I've tasted. Amazing.

The bad: A little twerp at the cash who thinks he's on stage - doing his little jig routine. Gross. Worse - he called one of my friends "Sweeite" or "Hun". Soured what could have been a lovely java experience.
Markus / February 13, 2011 at 10:40 pm
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Susan,

I'm glad that your coffee was amazing. My way of interacting was intended to be friendly and down to earth, but based on your comment I may have taken it too far. I appreciate your honesty because it'll make me more aware of my actions from now on. I invite you to return and walk you through a tasting, on us.

Sincerely,
Markus from SENSE APPEAL
LOLCATS / February 14, 2011 at 02:27 pm
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AGREEZ W SUSAN. COFFEE IZ SOOO GOOD.

MARKUS JIG IZ NOT GOOD, BUT GOOD THAT HE REPLIEZ & IZ SORRY!!1

KEEP ON, KEEPIN ON MARKUS.

BUT NO DANCIN, OK?

XOXO,
LOLCATS
Farah / February 25, 2011 at 02:31 pm
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Great atmosphere and coffee! Good tunes playing in the background....cheerful greetings.....hearwarming aroma...Its become my morning ritual.
Cin / February 25, 2011 at 10:25 pm
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Haven't seen Sameer in a while...

Is he still roasting, or is he sourcing?
What's the deal?

Loving the new double espro machine set-up.
Couldn't part with the old Della Corte? or just needed more eye candy?

Dave / February 26, 2011 at 11:01 am
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Sensational. Your espresso lifted me back to Italy. Grazie mille!

It is people like Peter - and Johnny at Jet Fuel - who are going the distance to bring European-quality espresso (et al) to Toronto. The city is a long way from 'world class', but through the efforts of dedicated pros like these fellows and their colleagues - we advance step by step. These are VERY expensive ventures with no small amount of behind-the-counter risk.

When you adjust your roast, bean and grind relative to the day's barometric pressure - well, you've got my vote. 5 stars.

Mantenere il buon lavoro!
Sandra / June 30, 2011 at 02:05 pm
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I had to say something, I've just been reading reviews to see if I share my high opinion of Sense Appeal.
I see I do.
On a lovely Saturday morning I enjoy the walk from St. Clair and Bathurst to Sense Appeal. Order my half pound of L beans and the oh so delightful Turkish latte.
I actually look forward to my Saturday morning coffee for a change. When I bought a home machine, I really needed to source a decent bean, why brew at home with crappy coffee, I want my guests to enjoy and taste what good coffee should be.

I don't care that it's small, it's the warm atmosphere, friendly smiles and the smell and taste of fresh ground and brewed coffee that keeps me coming back.
I've told everyone I know about it, posted on FB in case I missed someone.
Sense Appeal never go away, I'm spoiled now.
heng / July 6, 2011 at 10:45 pm
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tried it for the first time today. Americano was amazing! every sip was a pleasure! will definitely be going back on a regular basis!
Maxer / July 12, 2011 at 09:23 pm
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I miss the banana bread with jam...what happened to the banana bread with jam? The other pastries are okay, I guess. Otherwise, I'm satisfied with the coffee alone.
Rich / August 10, 2011 at 04:16 pm
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Have been twice after all the glowing reviews. Goal is to try all 3 kinds of Americanos. Tried the first two thus far. 8.5/10 for the O which was very nice, full-bodied and not too watery. Tried the A3 today and was FAR FAR too watery which obscures the evaluation as it wasn't a quality of bean/taste evaluation; it became more about the over-use of water. Plus it didn't have that lovely brownish foam-type thing on the top - never a good sign to this guy.

Looking forward to trying the other one. Hopefully it won't be watered down.

Gavin / August 15, 2011 at 09:50 am
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I am obsessed with this place. Some of the best coffee in the city.

My only quam is that one barista who wears a flat cap is always so sour. Then the others seem to walk on egg shells around him. Lighten up man, part of the reason I love going in there is for the great personalities..

Cheers for the great work guys!!
Jeremy / August 18, 2011 at 04:08 pm
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It's no Fahrenheit, but they do a good job:)
Steve / August 21, 2011 at 05:30 pm
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Quality here seems to be steadily dropping. Coffee and service wise!!
Maxer / October 2, 2011 at 11:53 pm
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I've noticed a decline in the quality as well...the past couple of espresso drinks have tasted like stale cigarettes. Good thing Crema is opening soon at Spadina and Richmond.
Raymond / December 8, 2011 at 03:39 pm
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Arrogant staff and sub-par product.
peter replying to a comment from Raymond / December 8, 2011 at 08:51 pm
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I'm sorry to here that.
visitor replying to a comment from Gavin / December 27, 2011 at 11:14 pm
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I'm not sure if this is the same guy gavin is referring to but I will say the guy with the cap makes the best coffee there - his latte is delicious! I never noticed him being sour though, maybe not as chatty as the others but never rude.
Aliana / April 5, 2012 at 12:31 pm
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It's a laid-back coffee house. They're not rude or arrogant at all. Eff the haters.
Rochelle / July 18, 2012 at 04:15 pm
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Came for lunch. The best veggie burger I've ever had. Ever. Will pay for the recipe and come back to try the coffee. Yum.
that guy replying to a comment from Aliana / July 27, 2012 at 10:54 am
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you clearly didnt talk to the owner
Pablo / December 5, 2012 at 01:51 pm
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Hi Sameer,
Do you sell the whole beans with the date when it was roasted??
can I buy the beans by half a Lb??..Thanks
Calvin replying to a comment from Pablo / December 10, 2012 at 12:26 pm
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FYI, Sameer no longer works with Sense Appeal - he has his own joint called Fahrenheit at Jarvis and Richmond, and it's pretty awesome. It's a espresso place where the focus is actually on making drinks with espresso.
Jennsanerd / April 10, 2013 at 03:01 pm
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My friend just tried this place and gave it a glowing review. Can't wait to stop in for lunch and a coffee!
E / August 12, 2013 at 01:45 pm
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Let's just talk about the food; it's AMAZING!
I have tried a couple of the items on the menu and have yet to find one I don't like. It is reasonably priced and the americanos are generally poured well. I wouldn't say the coffee is the best in the city but if you are looking for a great lunch along with your coffee this is the place for you! Although there are places to sit the wifi doesn't work well at all.
Mike / August 14, 2013 at 12:08 pm
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Sense Appeal is wonderful. The staff have a clear passion for coffee. Occasionally the staff seem a bit disorganized during peak periods, but I think its more a result of limited space than anything.
Rhonda / August 21, 2013 at 08:42 am
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Ok, having just read this review, I'm going to visit. I come into Toronto from Elmira every month to Kensington (Moonbean) for our coffee and purchase 4 lbs at a time. I will save that 4th lb for Sense Appeal since the reviews are so glowing! I'm a straight coffee drinker (black with one sugar). I'm not into Latte's and Cappacinos, just coffee so am disappointed easily when the bean is bad.
Matt / July 7, 2014 at 07:31 pm
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I love the guys at Jimmy's but good lord Sense Appeal has an amazing Americano. I walk a bit out of my way from work at King and Brant to treat myself.

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