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The Coffee Bar

Posted by Erinn Beth Langille / Posted on March 10, 2014

The Coffee bar torontoThe Coffee Bar is right on trend with the moment we're having where country has suddenly taken hold in Toronto. Following in the footsteps of late night spots like Boots n Bourbon and Rock n Horse Saloon, the Coffee Bar has brought a bit of country to the daytime coffee and espresso scene.

One might rightly ask: what do cowboys have to do with coffee? Is it the current enthusiasm in Toronto for mechanical bulls and line dancing that has The Coffee Bar dripping in rope and horse tapestries and all things Western? Even the barista comes dressed in a vest and cowboy hat. I wasn't sure at first, but this rodeo-themed coffee shop, a recent addition to the otherwise corporate stretch of Front at Blue Jay Way, is so hokey you can't help but smile and saddle up. Best part is the coffee is actually pretty darn good.

The Coffee bar torontoIt turns out The Coffee Bar is owned by Paul and Marie Coutu of Coutu's Quarter Horses (amongst other businesses), a horse breeding facility in Sutton, Ontario. Their passion for horses explains the d├ęcor, and their suave head for business explains the rest.

The Coffee bar torontoCatapulting on coffee trends, they outfitted The Coffee Bar with all the latest coffee gear options include Kone, French Press, Chemex, AeroPress, V-60 and Abid Clever coffee drippers while espresso-based drinks are made with the fancy Nuove Simonella Aurellia 3 group machine and prices kept respectable (espresso $2.50, latte $4.00) considering someone else might jack them for the tourists that frequent the area.

The Coffee bar torontoThe coffee itself comes from small batch Stouffville roasters Velvet Sunrise, whose beans have had a relatively minimal presence in downtown Toronto coffee shops. You can choose between a darker and a lighter roast for your drink, or buy beans to take away. I had an Americano, and my cowboy barista made up a cup with a lovely dark crema, titling it toward me and adding just as much water as I desired. Aw, shucks.

The Coffee bar torontoFor the many hungry office workers of the neighbourhood they carry a number of take away sandwiches and snacks, brought in from Bite Me Bakery, Foodbenders, Chasers Juice and Pink Grapefruit (a scone is $3.00, the sandwiches between $5.50 and $8.00), and have vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. Rather progressive for the ol' West, but right on par with expectations for Toronto's cafes.

The Coffee bar torontoThe place is actually well-designed for workers. There's quick drip coffee and the grab-and-go food, free Wi-Fi, stools and some seating on the main floor, with a mezzanine upstairs you can book for meetings, or use impromptu. There is an unknowing charm to the place that comes from putting all the campy saloon plaques, barn board, rope signage amidst the on-trend coffee equipment; if it were a person it would be Shania Twain. And that's no dig - I love that cheesy little sweetheart.

The Coffee bar torontoPhotos by Jesse Milns



ms / March 10, 2014 at 10:18 am
why papyrus....aaaaaaaaaaaah
Agree with ms / March 10, 2014 at 10:23 am
Betty / March 10, 2014 at 11:01 am
Cookies pictured are actually from Cafe Novo, as are their muffins and scones. Delish!
mb / March 10, 2014 at 11:16 am
papyrus :(
Ben / March 10, 2014 at 11:35 am
I think the height of pretension may have just been reached: On a blogTO article about an ironically country urban coffee bar, three of the first four comments are about font choice.

cosmic sans replying to a comment from Ben / March 10, 2014 at 12:02 pm
what is 'country' or 'urban' about papyrus font?

it's the comic sans of the 2000s.

iSkyscraper / March 10, 2014 at 12:07 pm
Painted CMU walls? Impressed they can make that work.
Ben replying to a comment from cosmic sans / March 10, 2014 at 01:17 pm
Do restaurants' signs' fonts need to be thematically appropriate? The courier font of Campagnolo, for example, doesn't strike me as all that Italian.

(*note: for my first response to your comment, I was going to use Enoteca Sociale as my example, but their font looks like it is in Italics, which is kind of awesomely appropriate)
annakarenina / March 10, 2014 at 03:39 pm
i live across the street from that abomination of a sign/brand. Papyrus and clip art??? Western themed? Weird fedora uniforms for baristas… WORST.
Lipsy / March 10, 2014 at 05:14 pm
Just yesterday, I was too lazy to walk to King St. to get my Starbucks, (I would've gone to Tim's on Front but weekend morning breakfast line is crazy) so I went in here to check out and support a local joint. I was looking forward to this place opening up because it's so close to me! But the moment I entered, I was greeted by a very dark interior, with some strong incense in the background, and some very unique-looking staff (the dreadlock, pierced guy wasn't too friendly either, no smile, nothing). The place heavily promoted all these vegan, gluten-free treats and felt so hippy-ish. I'm not sure if this coffee bar will do well in Front/Spadina area... maybe in Kensington neighbourhood instead? Plus $2.85 for large coffee, no thanks, I'll go to my Starbucks and collect my rewards instead.
Lipsy / March 10, 2014 at 05:16 pm
Oh yeah also there was nothing western nor rodeo about this place! More HIPPY over anything else (not hipster).
vicky / March 10, 2014 at 05:48 pm
To the worker who chose the font Papyrus: YOU HAD ONE JOB. YOU HAD 1000+ other choices. There's going to be a lot of people squinting.
Dave from Scarb. / March 10, 2014 at 06:19 pm
What's up with that dude's outfit? Holeeeey.
Rose / March 10, 2014 at 06:27 pm
I'd like to just say that that not a cowboy hat. That is the furthest thing from a cowboy hat. :|
RKMK / March 10, 2014 at 06:28 pm
Ugh, BlogTO commenters, you're the worst. OMGWTFONT WHOTFCARES

I live across the street and was thrilled a new coffee joint opened up across the way. I go up to Sbux on King on my way to work, but there are days (i.e. with -40C wind chill) that I appreciate the RIGHT THERE of this. As noted above: the Tim's line is nuts (and also, as unCanadian as this sounds, I'll take a pass on most of the food options.)

Bonus: the Velvet latte is creamy and deeeeeelish, and there are some reasonably-priced food stuffs that seem much healthier than the stuff I can grab at Bux, which always seems semi-engineered. And I like the interior. And everyone who works there has a delightful accent I can't quite place, but I think is Australian. I hadn't made it upstairs yet, but I could see myself holing up there, from the pics here.
Annakarenina / March 10, 2014 at 06:40 pm
I'm officially reaching out to these people ... I'm a designer . I will brand your shop. I will NOT use Papyrus or clip art. The choice is yours...
RKMK / March 10, 2014 at 06:51 pm
yeah let's get some more helvetica out there amirite
Mr moustache / March 10, 2014 at 06:54 pm
Your right Anna, I much prefer the Tim Hortons sign/brand
Krista replying to a comment from RKMK / March 10, 2014 at 06:58 pm
Holy Thundering Jesus / March 10, 2014 at 07:07 pm
does the fireplace work? cause i need to roast me some marshmallows.
J-Dana / March 10, 2014 at 07:16 pm
The less coffee/resto chains we have in the downtown core, the better. I work right near there and trying to find NOT a Starbucks is impossible. There are 3(!!!) within a block of each other. That's not okay. They're HORRIBLE! I could care less what font they use or what the interior looks like, if it's good coffee then GIMME!
Ratchetbitch / March 10, 2014 at 07:43 pm
Inc? Oh man .... Dry
Tex / March 10, 2014 at 08:16 pm
Dull font and an even duller company name. Hopefully the quality of their coffee won't be the third strike. By the way, I would have gone with the a Drunken Cowboy font. Good luck coffee bar inc.
Jefferson / March 10, 2014 at 08:22 pm
Why the map of the world on the sign? Are you telling your customers you want to have world coffee domination like starbucks? Maybe you think you customers aren't smart enough to know that coffee beans are grown in lots of different places. Either way your sign sucks.
Ariel / March 10, 2014 at 09:13 pm
SammyBrown / March 10, 2014 at 11:59 pm
A restaurant in Toronto is no longer judged by quality of food, taste, portion size, price, recipes but on font choice and how much design the owners know. FUCK IIIIIT! DESIGN SHOULD HAVE NO RULES OR BOUNDARIES!!!
SammyBrown / March 11, 2014 at 12:01 am
I'm going to this place for service, food, taste, ambiance. I'm inside NOT outside! Your outside looking at the sign wishing you could go in!!!!
It may seem like a trivial detail... replying to a comment from RKMK / March 11, 2014 at 10:13 am
..but it's not.

Can you imagine Starbucks logo in Papyrus? Or McDonald's? Or Tim Horton's?

Sure, you CAN visualize it, but it hurts a little to do so, doesn't it? It's because the attention paid to detail has paid off for each of these companies in having a enjoyable and --most importantly-- a RELEVANT font. It's not bad, but it does irk a bit. Partly because it's a irksome font, but also from a relevancy p.o.v. I mean...this isn't some Moroccan-themed hookah bar, it's western-themed coffee house and the font should reflect that.

I can't stress enough to new businesses in Toronto that the consumer experience starts even before you even step foot in side the place. You step in for not just the product, but often for the experience as well, and you guys already have a winning theme, so you're ahead of the game.

Look, I'm not trying to pee on their parade...I work at Metro Hall, I'll make the trek to this place because the area is devoid of life and we gotta support the businessfolk (really urban pioneers) who brave the barren, wind-swept hell-hole that is this end of Front St. while it's still in its' transition phase over the next few years.

Hopefully the place is awesome and they'll serve an anchoring function (much in the way PizzaPizza and Tim's did before them a bit further east).

So...good luck, guys! But maybe re-think that sign.
mb replying to a comment from It may seem like a trivial detail... / March 11, 2014 at 12:56 pm
hit the nail on the head.

papyrus straight-up just screams 'low rent', much like comic sans, jokerman, et al. proper branding is important, and reflects to me good business sense! also, why on earth would anyone ever excuse papyrus as a font choice.....
Whatevy / March 11, 2014 at 01:51 pm
Every single barista here is Australian ... It's weird. This place is weird .
Jean / March 11, 2014 at 08:19 pm
Actually there is only one Australian barista and I think the interior is great
Marie / March 12, 2014 at 02:50 am
I love that sign! Every time I see it I smile! Anybody wanting to come in and tell the owner to her face you don't like it will be given a (Blue Balls) cupcake! As it will likely be the only pair you have!
annakarenina / March 12, 2014 at 11:15 am
what the eff are you talking about ? Blue Balls? what?
Deborah / March 12, 2014 at 03:03 pm
The cupcakes are from Bite Me bakery (see the review), they have a cupcake called Blue Balls (all of the cupcakes have sexualized names but they are yummy if you try to forget that fact when you're eating them). The owner, Marie, appears to be calling you out? I think she's suggesting that no one has the "balls" to tell her to her face that they think the signage looks cheap. From what I've read in the comments, it is very obvious that EVERYONE thinks that the signage is cheap and that it is a reflection on the business.
I cannot believe that the owner of a business would actually behave like this (under her own name, no less) - it reads as bratty, unprofessional and immature. People will review your cafe, people will not like your cafe. If you cannot deal with it and feel you must resort to passive-aggression and poorly worded call outs, you may be in over your head. The owners of Black Rabbit tried to start a flame war with commenters here and they were closed within the year.
That said, due to the owners comment, I will NOT be returning to your cafe. I agree with the review and every comment here, this place serves decent coffee, better than Timmy's but the decor and branding is abhorrent.
Vac / March 12, 2014 at 04:37 pm
Honestly, I assumed this place was a dump because of the terrible font/sign...don't underestimate signage, people.
Dr. John / March 12, 2014 at 07:13 pm
Just like people thought you were a geek cuz of all yer freckles huh??? In that case they may have been right, you pretentious yuppies lol
JDee replying to a comment from Deborah / March 12, 2014 at 07:36 pm
i TOTALLY agree with everything you just said! Wont be coming back here again, purely due to the attitude displayed by the owner on these comments. Such a shame though because the staff seem quite lovely!
Marie / March 12, 2014 at 08:42 pm
I did not mean to offend anyone with my previous comment, it was said to make light of the situation and that is all! Everyone is entitled to their opinion and design like art is subjective. I am however hoping to be judged more on the quality of my product and the service of my staff rather then my font choices. If you can get past our sign, I invite you in to try our coffee.
A-D / March 12, 2014 at 08:50 pm
I'm going to ignore some of the comments here and give review of the actual coffee shop. It is fantastic! It is my favourite coffee spot in Toronto. Their mochacino is amazing (and healthy), their staff friendly, and the atmosphere is unlike anything you have experienced. You can go to all of the cookie cutter coffee shops in Toronto, or you can try something completely new and different. I'll be coming here once a week.

Highly recommend this place... don't listen to the people talking about the "font" of the sign...I hate the sign of the UPS store across the street. they still deliver my stuff though.
NYinTO / March 13, 2014 at 11:28 am
I think there are 2 Australian's, a guy and a girl, they're both lovely though, not sure why that's 'weird'! Why is it that Australian's are always so genuinely friendly? Maybe all that sunshine early in life gives them a sunny personality and prevents them from becoming dreary comment-leavers on forums like us here in TO. What the owner lacks in design skills, they make up for in staff selection, and the coffee is out of this world. Despite the catty comments, I'm glad this place has opened up so close to my home. Everyone saying they won't go now because of the owner,how many businesses actually have the owner on premises all day? That's what managers are employed for (I believe that is the Australian girl's role).
Stacey / March 13, 2014 at 07:00 pm
Putting the cheap sign and even cheaper hats aside.. I come in for the conversation I get to have with the baristas while I wait for my coffee and I've seen others just hanging around doing the same thing, talking the day away. They are great. The dark haired cashier with the big smile and the accent is so welcoming, and the boys behind the bar all love joining in with the laughs and stories.. they are like a little cowboy vest family! It's adorable how sweet they are to eachother. If the owner got one thing right it was putting together a group of people who work so well as a team in such a short period of time. I dont pay almost 6 bucks for my velvet latte every other day just because it is delicious, I pay it because the staff make me feel like I'm stopping by my friends' house for some cool tunes and a conversation before going back to work. I'm tempted to spend my whole lunch break hovering at the counter just because they have so much fun doing what they do in eachothers' company... and I'm a part of it for the few moments that I am there. Excellent vibe behind that espresso machine, you all make it look so effortless. Keep your head up guys! It cant be easy working for someone who has the nerve to tell reviewers on a blog site that they have no balls, I can only imagine what she says to you behind closed doors.
JDee replying to a comment from Stacey / March 13, 2014 at 07:41 pm
The little Australian girl at the cashier has a smile that can warm anyone especially in this cold! the dreadlock guy definitely makes a mean as latte, but at the end of the day its the principle of the matter and if the owner can’t handle people on an open blog forum (mind you) making comments about the way you've advertised the shop front, then I'd hate to see how she deals with any "constructive criticism" that comes her way.. just saying!
mb / March 13, 2014 at 09:06 pm
Tried the coffee, it's great! But for the love of God (and for your business'/design sake) please please please reconsider your branding. The fact that it's an issue means that a considerable amount of people have noticed it and it's affecting their opinion. Which is to say that design is getting in the way of the project, which good design should very well rarely do. I'll even volunteer to help!
Amy / March 14, 2014 at 11:19 am
Went here yesterday for the first and last time. I WILL NOT BE GOING BACK.

I always love trying new places around my neighbourhood. As I had some work to do, I decided I would check out The Coffee Bar. WORST IDEA EVER. Albeit, the coffee was not half bad. The arrangement of the furniture was interesting to say the least and the overhead vent was SO loud that it gave me a headache. Even still I thought it was okay, not horrible. It was not until I asked if there were outlets so I could charge my laptop that it happnened. The Australian girl was really nice she looked around the upstairs floor but couldn't find one. She suggested that if my computer wire was long enough that there is one downstairs by the coffeebar that I could use. So I pack up my things and head downstairs. As I was about to plug in my charger, I was greeted by this lady with short brown hair, who I am assuming is the owner, and in the most rude and condecending way, she told me that the outlets are not for customers. I felt like I was being talked to like a 6 year old girl. I understand that some coffee shops may not have outlets but for someone especially the owner to speak to customers in such a tone is unacceptable especially being a new business.
Lee / March 14, 2014 at 08:42 pm
Tried the coffee, nothing special.

Who designs a cafe without proper outlets for laptops!? I also had a similar experience and just gave up.

Owner is obnoxious, as is evident by her attempt at a self-defense on this blog post, as well as her general demeanor in person. Will not be spending another dollar in this cafe.

This place will be gone by the end of the year.

richbeit replying to a comment from Ben / March 16, 2014 at 11:52 am
i think your right Ben.sad
Chevy / March 17, 2014 at 02:23 pm
Great place! Warm and inviting with a cosy atmosphere and friendly staff! The mezzanine is the perfect place for a couple to go after an evening out. Loved the atmosphere! I was there for their signature velvet lattes which my friend had told me were ultra yummy and I have to agree with her!!!
James Swan / March 19, 2014 at 12:47 pm
It's funny to me how the sense of entitlement from hipster yuppies in my neighbourhood knows no bounds (I live above the Coffee Bar). It is the owner's choice not to make outlets available for guests, and if you don't like it, buy a charger pack for your computer you cheapskates, after all, Hydro isn't free even if your rent is all inc. My favourite barista is the British girl (she doesn't sound Australian) - although I haven't seen her there this week...

So the owner may be stern, but she has spunk, and I thought her comment about the sign was pretty funny, considering she's right: all you font brats have no balls, that's why you write ridiculous criticism anonymously and viciously online, rather than constructively and amicably in person.

Final conclusion: Coffee Bar is awesome but this neighbourhood is full of twits.
Nancy / March 29, 2014 at 11:19 am
This place is what every coffee shop should be. The coffee/lattes are smooth; the food is very good and the coffee bar itself is comfortable. Customer service here is the best - my friend and I ordered two lattes and two salads from Foodbenders. The barista told us they had just run out of almond milk, did we want soy. I decided to pass on the coffee when the owner told us to to find ourselves a seat and enjoy our salads - she was going to quickly go across the street to Rabba to pick up some almond milk and would bring us our lattes when they were ready. Who does that!? Not Starbucks, they don't even offer almond milk. At Second Cup when they've run out of almond milk, you're out of luck. The Coffee Bar knows what true customer service is and they deliver. What you see on the outside is not important. What matters is what's on the inside and inside of The Coffee Bar Inc it's all good. Bypass the chain coffee shops and experience what a true cup java should taste like at The Coffee Bar Inc.
Lavender Blume / April 1, 2014 at 02:39 pm
Cripes, I can't believe people CARE SO MUCH ABOUT A SIGN. I work a few doors down from this place, and I would rather support a smaller outfit than a Tims or one of the 3 Starbucks that exist within a 3-block radius. Seriously, it's out of control. The decor here is rustic and cozy. The guys are super nice, the food looks good (if I wasn't gluten intolerant I'd be all over it) and the coffee's pretty good. It's nice to see some uniqueness and creativity served up in a chilled-out atmosphere in what is otherwise a dull, cold corridor of grey.
Dan / April 13, 2014 at 11:02 am
I thought this place was amazing. When I walked in, the decor was incredibly nice and genuine. I had not seen a decor this nice in a cafe anywhere in Toronto. Staff was friendly.

I ended up sitting around and staying an hour or two longer because I was enjoying the experience. I had tried another coffee too. The espresso was incredible, and the americano was alright - I think they used a little too much water in my americano. Definitely still drinkable and enjoyable.

Upstairs was full of people, and there were a few people downstairs.

I really don't understand the anger of the comments on here. It sounds like someone is angry with the world or has a personal vendetta against the owner or someone who works here and is re-iterating the same statements over and over again under different user accounts. (This is just my opinion after reading the comments).

After going to this coffee shop yesterday, I was so impressed that I looked it up online to read some reviews. This review was great. I learned that we can use the upstairs for office space? I think that's awesome.

Also - I like outlets too, but you should never be surprised there aren't outlets in a coffee shop. Most cafe's downtown Toronto are like that (except maybe Starbucks where you'll find one or two). Personally, I prefer the local coffee shops like The Coffee Bar, Darkhorse, Neuf, Jimmy's Coffee, and others.

The Coffee Bar is definitely top notch!
Arby / May 13, 2014 at 09:26 pm
I enjoyed my visit. I am familiar with Velvet Sunrise. I wish them well. They're new to the biz. I don't know Mark (who I have met however) and his history so I can't say more. I've been drinking VS since it's debut here in TO. It's gone from being undrinkable to good (as have other coffees from other roasters in the area). Occasionally it's great. Often it's mediocre. And all of that is not unusual. Even more established roasters don't consistently crank out perfect coffee. (And good coffee can easily be ruined by any number of factors.) I only want Mark's operation to succeed (become profitable and improve). 'Velvet Sunrise'? Oh well.

The cup (espresso) I had here was predominantly Sidamo, which delivers up that nice blueberry taste. It was a bit on the harsh side, but that faded after my first sip. I like espresso with (natural) flavor. Espresso can be satisfying even when flavor notes are subdued or altogether missing. But espresso with that extra bump of flavor is a special thing.

I like the space here and the barista was comfortable and made me feel comfortable. I enjoyed our little chit chat. I can't say I disagree with some of the criticisms of the signage, now that I think of it. But it's all good and it's certainly not a show stopper for me. When I get my own shop, then I'll do signage that I like. Until then...
Jace / July 4, 2014 at 07:57 pm
To those people who only have stupid things to say about the font, I say give it a Break! It's a font people!! The only thing you should be commenting on this place is the Quality of the coffees and the service!

I've been to this place numerous of times, and the quality of coffee is excellent !
I would rather pay the extra amount of money for a great quality cappuccino that has the right foam texture and the right liquid amount then to pay something from starbucks which is the same price to get only get foam and very little coffee for $5!

The staff are very friendly, they make you feel very welcomed!

BLOGTO is for recommending great places to go for coffee! Not for what type on font someone has!


NL / January 2, 2015 at 05:17 pm
Do people really stand there looking at a sign, criticizing the font? That just screams "I've got nothing more important or interesting going on in my life". Frankly, I'm much too busy to care or even notice the font on the sign. I care about the quality of the product, the service and the environment. Then I get on with my LIFE.

Some people just walk through life looking for anything and everything to complain about. People like that are miserable and nobody enjoys being around them. They complain because they NEED to express their opinion, not because anybody actually cares about it.
Mark / June 15, 2015 at 03:13 pm
A coffee shop with great coffee and latte art. Cool! Featured on
CanadaAM;playlistId=1.2413469&binId=1.1811949&playlistPageNum=1&binPageNum=1 / August 21, 2015 at 05:46 am
Excellent post. I will be experiencing mmany of these issues
as well..

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