Sunny Joe's Cafe
Sunny Joe's Cafe feels like a country corner stop, Now, I know it's kind of hokey to say, but I couldn't help thinking of an old Muskoka coffee and convenience store as I approached the new Sorauren Avenue cafe.
Surely the lineup of colourful Muskoka chairs helped to suggest that cottage country vibe, and so too did the park across the street and the relative absence of other retail in the area.
Formerly a convenience store (go figure), this space has been redone to partially remove an aged drop ceiling (revealing gorgeous old tin) and add in some cafe essentials including an outward-facing window bar. There's free WiFi available, though seating is somewhat scant (just six stools) so most Sunny Joe's customers have grabbed their fix to go.
I head over to the Victoria Arduino espresso machine where I meet Magali, who tells me her husband, Peter, is the man behind the cafe. ("Not Joe?!") "I'm a teacher," she says, "so I can help out for the summer."
Magali says her husband previously worked in banking, but after a shuffle in the organization and a package offer, Peter decided to change his focus and try his hand at a neighbourhood cafe. "We just live around the corner," Magali says, "so we know the area."
The concept is indeed quite area-focused, offering espresso drinks using nearby Alternative Grounds beans and Augie's Gourmet Ice Pops, a Roncesvalles summer favourite. The baked goods (muffins, $2.00; cookies, $1.50; croissants, $1.75; pain au chocolat $2.00) are made by Magali herself with all of the ingredients listed alongside.
I order an iced Americano $2.50 and before Magali prepares the shot, she reaches in a freezer and retrieves a blue container. The ice...? But it looks brownish...ah ha! Coffee ice cubes. Brilliant. "This way, it doesn't dilute the drink," Magali says, adding that they brew extra drip and use the remains for ice cubes.
The Americano indeed stays strong from the first sip to the last, boasting a strong, earthy flavour you tend to taste at the back of your tongue. I leave the drink black, though Sunny Joe's offers regular milk and cream along with almond and soy. It offers the perfect jolt and full-bodied flavour, with none of the dilution that typically comes with iced coffee.
Along with plenty of soft drinks (an homage to the space's convenience store days), green smoothies ($3.25), and snacks to help cool off, Sunny Joe's also sells books collected by a used book shop owner located in the loft space across the street; everything from Noam Chomsky and Stephen King to Archie Comics and Dr. Seuss. But despite the powerful seduction prowess of a finely worded rhyming couplet, it's the stellar iced Americano that will keep me coming back. And the Muskoka chairs — it's not the cottage, but it'll do.