Thursday, September 3, 2015Cloudy 30°C

The Abbott

Posted by Adam Vrankulj / Posted on December 11, 2010

The Abbott TorontoThe Abbott, near King and Dufferin is full of carefully-curated antiques, solid wood and a beautiful painted aluminum ceiling. Unfortunately, the coffee doesn't quite live up to the decor of this quiet west-end space.

Hidden around a corner in a pretty desolate part of Parkdale, my first impression of the Abbott is how hard it is to find. Hidden beneath a staircase, and tucked away from the sidewalk, it took a little bit of searching before I realized where this cafe is.

The Abbott TorontoOld mason jars, beakers, microscopes and items of historical Canadian significance adorn the shelves and walls, but my favourite aesthetic consideration of this shop is the name, "Abbott" in the black and white honeycomb tiles on the floor. I'm told by the barista behind the counter that the name Abbott comes from the first Canadian-born black doctor Anderson Ruffin Abbott, who lived in this exact area in Parkdale, and died in 1913.

The Abbott TorontoPersonally, I love a shop with meaning. The owners of this shop, who also own the Lakeview restaurant, have really taken the time to represent Dr. Abbott, with old science tools and encyclopedias on shelves.

The Abbott TorontoThe first thing I order is a shot ($1.25), and it came in a paper cup. The crema had little elasticity, and the shot barely had any complexity or body whatsoever.

The Abbott TorontoTo see how this espresso held up in milk, I ordered a cappuccino ($3.25), and it came in a skinny glass stein. With the espresso in the bottom, and a huge, thick head of bland milk foam on top, the shape of this glass made it difficult to enjoy the combined taste of espresso and milk, forcing me to consume the milk foam before reaching the espresso at the bottom.

The Abbott TorontoAdmittedly, the cappuccino didn't taste as bad as it could have. Despite the fact that it was difficult to drink as a cappuccino, the espresso blend did taste much better with milk. This is a very uninteresting blend of espresso that lacks the sweetness I crave, but it does pair well with milk.

The Abbott TorontoThe food selection at The Abbott is also fairly disappointing. On the counter are a few glass containers with muffins and croissants. I order a muffin, which I'm told was homemade, but wasn't as good as mom's. It tasted at least two days old.

Though the coffee coming out of this cafe right now isn't quite up to par, it's not as though The Abbott couldn't produce a better product. A new Mazzer grinder and Elektra rig prove that with the right kind of devotion to coffee, this could be a place to get a good cup of coffee in the west-end. Unfortunately, it needs some work right now.

The Abbott TorontoOn the weekends, The Abbott is open 7a.m. -6 p.m., and 6:30 a.m.- 6 p.m. during the week. Lattes are $3.25 or $4, depending on whether you order a single or a double shot, Americanos are $2 or $2.50, and a cup of brew is $1.75 or $2.25.

Though their coffee isn't the best, the beautiful decor of this space rivals the reclaimed wood look of Hula Girl and Sense Appeal, and still make this a spot worth keeping an eye on for the future.

The Abbott TorontoPhotos by Dennis Marciniak



JR / December 11, 2010 at 07:00 pm
Given that the Lakeview has mediocre coffee at best, I think that style-over-substance was really all that could be expected when they attempted a cafe.
Slits / December 12, 2010 at 11:10 am
Great space. Free Wifi. Friendly.
I pay a lot for ambiance, which makes this place a steal.
I have to say that my almost daily Americano (or 'long black' as we called them in Australia) is perfect more times than not.
I hope this place is going to be a fixture in south Parkdale.
Heres to a brilliant new spot not on Queen Street!
AV / December 13, 2010 at 02:06 pm
I'll give them credit for having the balls to open on Spencer. When I first moved to Toronto I lived on Spencer, and while time passed and King st. has changed (somewhat), a recent visit reminded me of how sketchy that area still is and how far it still has to go.

BOL to "The Abbott".
MrPotato replying to a comment from Slits / December 13, 2010 at 03:49 pm
"Heres to a brilliant new spot not on Queen Street!"

Whon Whon lose!
Will / December 13, 2010 at 03:49 pm
Living on Spencer I frequent this place about twice a week (almost to the point of becoming a regular). Coffees great. Staff (at this point just two female servers) are friendly. Be sure to snatch up the free pins at the register!
Will / December 13, 2010 at 03:50 pm
Living on Spencer I frequent this place about twice a week (almost to the point of becoming a regular). Coffees great. Staff (at this point just two female servers) are friendly. Be sure to snatch up the free pins at the register!
BigJer / December 13, 2010 at 08:16 pm
Mmm, I love coffee places where the coffee "isn't the best". As a King & (east of) Dufferin local, I'll certainly give it a whirl and keep an open mind. Anything to improve this horrendously desolate part of the city is a plus, but given that 40,000 deteriorating low-income housing units surround this bastion of apparently mediocre coffee and kitsch, we're a long way off from changing the dynamic of the neighbourhood just yet.
Ben / December 13, 2010 at 11:01 pm
Can we please refer to this area as "Lower Parkdale" or"Low-Park"?

J / December 14, 2010 at 10:27 am
So the author thinks King and Spencer is "pretty desolate" and commenter BigJer goes all out with "horrendously desolate." Do either of you know what the word "desolate" means? Have either of you ever been to any other city anywhere in North America? It's a low-income neighbourhood and it isn't beautiful, but there's nothing even remotely desolate about this area.
sophie / December 14, 2010 at 11:32 am
I was wondering when BlogTO was going to review this place. I also live in the King & Spencer area, and this coffee shop is a most welcome addition to the neighbourhood. The coffee might not be the best, but it's still pretty good unless you're a picky-pants coffee connoisseur. Regardless, it's great to see new businesses opening up in our stretch of Parkdale.
Lou Costello / December 14, 2010 at 11:41 am
Love the exterior. I wish we had an abundance of buildings like these instead of all the steel and glass crap we're getting these days.
E / December 14, 2010 at 12:34 pm
Unfortunate headline. Parkdale is not migrating to King, King already is and always was a part of Parkdale. Perhaps the copy editor meant trendy Parkdale?
mike in parkdale / December 14, 2010 at 04:00 pm
wow.... how did I not notice this place? I walk past the corner at King / Spencer at least twice a day. I walk past a number of coffee options from my home on Dunn to my office on Liberty, but this one is probably going to become the first pick.

As for the 'lower parkdale' debate.... I'm happy just calling it 'Parkdale'. Queen Street is kinda an entity unto itself, and most of the trendy new shops and spots are sticking very close to the heavily trodden path. I applaud The Abbot for taking a risk.

And the day when I see Harry's Charbroiled reviewed on BlogTo...
seanm replying to a comment from Lou Costello / December 14, 2010 at 07:49 pm
We do have an abundance of these buildings, most of Toronto's primary commercial strips are still made up of the older red brick vernacular.
mike in parkdale / December 15, 2010 at 08:49 am
So I just had my first visit to The Abbot and I was impressed.

The coffee was good, the pastry was fresh, and the place had a very warm and inviting vibe.

I know that people take their coffee very seriously around here, but it seems like some places are held to an incredibly high standard. The review of Capital Espresso (which is a nice spot too) would have us believe that it's the second coming of Juan Valdez, but this review kinda dumps on a decent place. Saying that "the coffee isn't quite up to par" just isn't fair. What's par?

"Never let the Perfect be the enemy of the good".

This place was good, very good.
Arby / December 17, 2010 at 02:13 pm
I would never, ever serve a cappuccino in a tall skinny mug like that. It's just plain wrong for the very reasons the above poster mentioned.

Otherwise, I'll be visiting. The indie coffee scene in TO is showing no signs of slowing down and it's wonderful.
AT / December 21, 2010 at 12:01 pm
I live on Spencer and I absolutely love having The Abbott on my street. It's wonderful to have something so close (and not on Queen St). It always feels warm & homey and their coffees are not only delicious but well priced. Also, to echo J's sentiment...desolate refers to something lonely, deserted and deprived of inhabitants. The Abbott is in the middle of an extremely dense neighbourhood that is bursting with children, culture and liveliness.
Arby / December 21, 2010 at 12:20 pm
Well, I don't know what happened to my last post here. So I'll try again.

I visited The Abbott and was very pleasantly surprised. The nabe is desolate, for sure. And I'm sure the locals who stop into this warm, inviting shop will be doubly pleased that they have it.

Eleka (spelling?) was friendly and made me a delicious espresso. She told me the name of their B.C. based coffee supplier and I forgot it. If they are thinking of going with someone local, they can only benefit. While the coffee I had in the shop, in this case in a proper espresso cup, was fine (actually quite good), there are other issues to consider. Going local, and there are good local suppliers, will often mean getting important support such as training for baristas and shop owners.

I actually ran into another shop owner last night and we were catching up. I was telling her about my solo crawl and had almost got to The Abbott when she interrupted me to tell me about this new shop she had just visited called The Abbott. "I was just going to tell you about it," I exclaimed. She wasn't happy about what her coffee was served in and I agreed that the shop needs some tweaks. But we both liked the space and wish the owner success. And she loves the nabe, to which I say terrific. I still have the opinion I have. I don't dislike anyone for having their opinion, about anything, and don't have time for hostility toward me for the opinions I hold, if that comes up.

There was (in fact) no good reason for my post to disappear. Let's not be so unclassy. Leave that for the fancier, snootier organizations like Chowhound and Martini Boys.
Tim / January 6, 2011 at 11:56 am
This is a great addition to the neighbourhood
Aimee / March 11, 2011 at 12:35 pm
good coffee! i just found this place today, tucked away for sure- i live right across the street and have never seen it. a fellow streetcar rider told me it was tucked back there behind the convenience store... who knew? i really enjoyed my coffee, but it may be due to the fact that the only other coffee place close by on King is McDonald's... so it may not be top notch in the city, but it's certainly top notch for the 'hood.
Crimson / March 11, 2011 at 09:53 pm
Finally good coffee in our "desolate low income" corner of Parkdale. I am a resident of one of those 40,000 so-called "low-income" housing options in the neighborhood (and btw this to me just means AFFORDABLE) and appreciate that someone has finally recognized that those of us who are too smart to pay exorbitant rents in trendy corners of the city are not devoid of taste (for good coffee or otherwise). And I'm certain those who live in the million dollar homes in Parkdale will enjoy it too :)! This is what makes Parkdale great. Ain't it cool when the classes can live in harmony ;)?
Eugen S / March 13, 2011 at 09:01 pm
After reading this review I went to check it out and loved The Abbott. My coffee was great the couple of times I was there and the staff is super nice.

Many of the coffee shops on Queen near me are nearly always packed so it's great to have something a little more quiet and friendly near by.
Suzy / April 15, 2011 at 12:08 pm
I frequently get my coffee at the Abbott, as I live around the corner on Tyndall Ave. It is a VERY welcome addition to Parkdale, especially on this stretch of King St.

I think this is a very inaccurate review. The coffee is wonderful, and this is now where I pick up my ground coffee for home. I love this place! In fact, i'm drinking their coffee right now.

If you live in this neck of the woods, give it a try. I'm sure you won't be disappointed. The prices are very reasonable.
Henry / May 16, 2011 at 10:49 am
I was checking out an apt. on lower Spencer last week and its looked good. I was walking up, back to Jameson, and saw this beautiful shop! The parkdale town emblem caught my eye, then the flooring, and finally the sign/art in the back. The shop had just closed, but the guy inside (I forget his name) let me and my friend in to grab a coffee to go. Its fair, but the atmosphere is great. Also, lease signed, I have the new apartment!
I hope to see some of you at the Abbott soon!
Elaine / July 7, 2011 at 11:50 am
I live near The Abbott, and was also pleasantly surprised by the place. I do find the drip coffee a little strong for me, but I plan on getting them to add a little hot water. I was delighted by the coffee that I bought to make at home. It reminded me of my favorite coffee from a shop in Saskatoon called McQuarry's, and I've never found it anywhere else in Toronto.

Also, I like to buy drip coffee, and Capital Espresso, while very good, doesn't make it. Sometimes I just want a cup of coffee!
Thoma / July 19, 2011 at 07:36 am
Got hear at 630am to grab a coffee and muffin and somehow the muffin I got tasted (like you stated) at least 2 days old and possibly older. It felt like sawdust in my mouth. What the eff?
Culinerd / October 21, 2011 at 11:50 am
I am kicking myself a little, I live on King First high-rise in between Tyndall and Spencer and saw the place for the first time last week, Don't know if its bc I never of would of thought to look for a coffee shop there, Gonna check it out tomorrow.
queen latfh / January 3, 2012 at 08:42 am
is dis place still open??????
Fiona / February 26, 2012 at 05:59 pm
Lovely environment as per the review. Food is BAD. I do not recommend the sandwiches: mine was soggy on one side and stale in the other. The chai latte is nice; I didn't want to brave the espresso. Also the music playing was good for studying, but the persistent interruptions from sketchy clientele made it a but difficult to get work done. All in all, if they improved the food quality, I might be incline to come again.
jcitizen / September 18, 2012 at 03:14 pm
Just hit The Abbott for my first time. I've only had one cappuccino there, but anyway...

The place has a nice vibe about it and it looks charming, but the espresso is just ok at best. Espresso snobs will find the quality of the drinks a bit amature. No micro-foam to be found and the shot seemed a bit weak and bitter, while the flavour of the roast actually wasn't too bad. But for most non-obsessive regular people I think the drinks will be good enough, so if you are in the area and want a nice little place to hang this is worth checking out. I'll probably go back for another try as it is down the street from work.
Kate Gerritsen / February 3, 2013 at 10:54 am
I am looking forward to checking out Tue Abbott. I wish the owners success and hope they have fresh muffins by the time I get there!

Add a Comment


Find a Cafe

Or use the options below to assist you in locating a Cafe in Toronto.

Search Results

Please select criteria from the dropdown menus above to start your search.


Recent Reviews

Refine the list using the categories below:

Other Cities: Montreal