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The Black Canary Espresso Bar

Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on August 8, 2012

the black canary torontoThe Black Canary Espresso Bar is the rebranded, redesigned incarnation of the former Bisogno Espresso Bar. The fundamentals — that is, the coffee, the snacks, the overall atmosphere is the same, though the sign outside advertises a new name and there's a fair amount of additional seating.

the black canary torontoI catch up with Luthie Lampa who, along with business partner Mark Gringas, bought Bisogno from its beloved owner, Von, a little more than a year and a half ago. "We were buying coffee here for about three years before that," Luthie says, adding that she worked in post-production in the area before taking over the cafe. "I've always wanted to have my own coffee shop," she says. "So when Von was looking to sell, it was the perfect opportunity."

the black canary espresso bar torontoFrom the get-go, Luthie and Mark knew they would keep the coffee the same, using Rufino espresso for its milk-based espresso drinks and Detour for its shots and Americanos. I order my Americano iced ($3) and watch as Luthie pours the espresso over a cup of ice water, keeping the crema mostly intact.

the black canary espresso torontoThe flavour is bold with fruity undertones and doesn't need the added adornment of milk and/or sugar (though Black Canary has lactose-free, soy, and almond milk options, as well as agave syrup and organic honey). And for the Nutella nuts (pun intended), The Black Canary still has its "Mocha Nutellacino" ($4.00/$4.75) and "Mocha/Nutella Latte" ($4.50/$5.25) on the menu.

the black canary torontoTo eat, there are muffins, scones and more from Desmond & Beatrice, gluten-free cookies from Queen B Pastry, and bagels from Gryfe's.

the black canary espresso bar torontoThe difference, now, is that there are many more seats on which to plunk down and enjoy. The cafe has kept the antique wooden dining table as its central focus, but it has surrounded it with smaller bistro tables and new window seating. The milk and sugar station has also been moved to optimize space, and the existing bar was demolished and created anew.

And perhaps most noteworthy of all — the drop ceiling has been painted in a pea-green shade (I know, I know), which actually seems to brighten up the space when contrasted with the bright white walls. The effect is sort of a 1950's-vintage living room space, but with plenty of George Brown students typing away on their laptops.

the black canary espresso torontoAs for the name, Luthie says it was pretty much something she heard and decided sounded good. "It's also the name of a female superhero," she says, "but that wasn't the reason we chose the name. I wanted something a little more cutesy, Mark wanted something strong, and this was a good compromise."

the black canary espresso bar torontoThe Black Canary is just waiting for the arrival of its new menu boards, says Luthie, and then its rebranding will be complete. "It's still the same cafe," she says. "It just has a new sign, and it looks a little different." The Black Canary Espresso Bar is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the week, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.

Photos by Morris Lum



Pk / August 9, 2012 at 10:51 am
The nutellacinos are TO DIE FOR, as are their regular coffees. A great place, glad they're keeping the tradition of quality.
Gary / August 9, 2012 at 12:45 pm
Shhh, don't tell everyone how great this place is, I want to keep it to myself! Seriously, it's great to see the decor is now as awesome as the coffee and service.
Levi / August 9, 2012 at 04:16 pm
Totally the best espresso in the city. Caps and Lattes are consistently good no matter which of the several staff makes them. No bad attitude here either. Friendly staff that remembered my name after the second time I patronized.
#2 in the city / August 9, 2012 at 04:59 pm
yeah, they make a decent cap... this Luthie must be the babe always there?? ceiling looks fresh, shame about the floor though.
SupaKlown / August 30, 2012 at 07:13 pm
Best coffee shop in Toronto
Peacock Tea and Coffee / October 5, 2012 at 03:14 am
Great post! Quality gourmet coffee is hard to find especially at affordable prices.
Arby / October 5, 2012 at 02:11 pm
I loved the place before the reno. I love it more now. They certainly got it right. I'm not the biggest fan of Rufino coffee for taste. It's okay, but rarely inspires me. Detour tends to be tastier. All coffee goes up and down. That's it's nature. It's temperamental. I look for more than just a good tasting cup when I visit an indie shop. And I find all that I look for in Black Canary.

I find alive staff at BC for one thing. No one rolls his or her eyes when you buy a drink, which, believe it or not, I've experienced. If you make your buying customer, who may or may not be a friend, feel like they're bad because they're making you do something you have no interest in doing, then maybe you should think about doing something else.

Black Canary + Silver Snail is so cool. And what a location! (n/e corner Yonge & Dundas, upstairs near HMV) I wish Luthie and Mark and their staff success and not just in business terms. Have fun guys! Make good memories. You are helping others to do the same.
Doodle / April 6, 2013 at 03:15 pm
Ya Arby is right, Rufino is okay but Detour would be a better choice, however Detour can sometimes have bitter aftertaste, still a nice place if you frequent that area.
Khush / June 17, 2013 at 06:41 pm
Coffee is good, but they make sure their chairs are uncomfortable enough to hurt your back so that you leave as soon as you are done sipping it away :)
Mike / July 15, 2013 at 04:19 pm
They always make my americano perfect, with no bitterness. Espressos are amazing and they're 100% super friendly. I love this place and the staff! :)
Arby / April 12, 2015 at 02:06 pm
Right now, April 2015, Black Canary is the only game in town for tasty, in-house, espresso. (Whew! They changed their house blend a while back. It could have been a disaster. It wasn't. It's very good.) The Pilot will return, I hope. (The beans I take home are fine. But what's on tap in the two coffee shops I visit regularly isn't nice right now.) It's always changing. But relatively speaking, Detour and Pilot, and perhaps Social (I don't have enough to say for sure), are the best local roasters we have.
Michelle / June 16, 2015 at 12:08 am
I'm very sorry to say this but I feel like I should warn potential customers here that currently (june2015) this cafe is infested with cockroaches.
The small Americano Misto I had was delicious but the longer I sat the the cafe the more and more discusted I got as I watched little cockroaches run up and down the walls and lie dead by the window. Absolutely gross. Otherwise I would have loved the cafe but it's simply a health hazard and I would be worried about catching bugs on clothing and potentially bringing them home. Eak
The Black Canary replying to a comment from Michelle / July 15, 2015 at 12:35 am
We really appreciate your concern with our establishment. We are extremely sorry that you felt uncomfortable in our place of business, our deepest apologies for that. With respect to the nature of your comment, it is our duty to inform you that the 'conditions' of the cafe - based on your review - are false. For a few weeks out of the year, once the weather gets hot, the cafe and all the other commercial units in the building, gets a beetle infestation. These beetles crawl on the windows, both inside and outside, as well as on the exterior brick walls of the building. I've brought in pest control the first time this happened last year, and they said that there is nothing we can do, and they die off within a couple of weeks, which they do. Unfortunately, they get mistaken for cockroaches, but the big difference is that these beetles crawl slowly and around windows, whereas cockroaches move very quickly and tend to stay in darker areas. Regardless, we 100% understand the reason you felt obliged to write your comment. This is something we are taking care of the best we can. The last thing we want is for our customers to feel uneasy. Rest assured, the beetles are no longer around. Please feel free to come by the cafe again, and enjoy an Americano Misto on us!
John / August 15, 2015 at 02:13 pm
That Michelle sounds like a hypochondriac.

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