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The Sovereign

Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on May 29, 2012

The Sovereign TorontoThe Sovereign is a new indie coffee shop that gambled its launch on the outcome of the most recent provincial election. That's right; while most cafes look to, say, neighbourhood demographics and area spending trends when deciding on an opening, Sovereign owners Ross and John had their eyes glued to the polls.

"This used to be a Liberal office," Ross says as he reclines in the cafe's church-pew bench. "Oh, for the last 11 years, or so."

The Sovereign Toronto CafeHe says that the building's landlord was quite content with the Liberals as his tenants, seeing as they always paid on time and never caused much fuss. (You can juxtapose that with party tendencies if you like, but that's a discussion for another forum.) So John and Ross made him a deal.

The Sovereign"We said, if the NDP wins the riding, then we get the space," Ross says. And John pulling espresso at the bar confirms how that turned out.

The Sovereign CafeThe pair — who live on the same street just a few blocks from the cafe — tell me they've tried to open their own space for years. Ross had been working as a sommelier and John in a bakery, when they finally thought they had caught a break with a prime space in Parkdale. "We had the lease signed and everything," Ross says. "But in the end, it fell through."

The SovereignNevertheless, they're now both behind this location on Davenport, touting the abundance of young family and drought of good espresso. " There's nothing else around here," John says, as he prepares an Americano ($2.00/$2.75) on the shop's Elektra Barlume. The shop does all of the classic espresso drinks using Rufino's Super Bar Blend (with soy and almond milks available on request) and offers a small assortment of baked goods such as shortbread cookies ($2.00) and butter- and flour-free peanut and fig torrones ($2.00), prepared by John's mother.

The Sovereign TorontoI sample the latter, expecting something chewy and sweet but find the torrone hard and sort of savoury — still, delicious all the same. My Americano has a smooth nutty flavour though it comes of sort of muted, confirming that I probably should have gone for the double shot instead. Ross and John tell me they're planning to soon introduce iced drinks for the summer, and that they're also hoping to host a few wine-tasting events in the (currently unfurnished) back space.

The Sovereign Toronto"It's been steady; people are discovering us slowly," Ross says. "Though a few people still come in thinking it's the Liberal office. So we played off of that with the name."

While Davenport Liberals might still be reeling from their loss, The Sovereign is a boon to coffee drinkers in the area.

The sovereignThe Sovereign offers free Wifi and is currently open Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Photos by Stephani Buchman



Bobby / May 29, 2012 at 02:21 pm
YES, Davenport is coming up!
nice / May 29, 2012 at 03:13 pm
An indie cafe..imaginative.
Jerard replying to a comment from nice / May 29, 2012 at 03:55 pm
Almost as imaginative as your comment!
nice replying to a comment from Jerard / May 29, 2012 at 04:00 pm
and your reply.
the lemur replying to a comment from nice / May 29, 2012 at 04:10 pm
Considering that the area is kind of a retail desert, it may not be imaginative but I'm sure it's welcome.

Out with the useless Tony Ruprecht, in with the espresso and shortbread.
Gianpaolo Pesce / May 29, 2012 at 04:21 pm
Amazing coffee, to be honest the best cappuchino ive had! Thumbs up, even the other coffee's are great, amazing espresso and great pasteries! I recommend people to stop by, it is also a great friendly environment!
lol replying to a comment from nice / May 29, 2012 at 04:36 pm
Sorry its not another starbucks..
mariootsa replying to a comment from nice / May 29, 2012 at 04:42 pm
yes, two guys opening up a coffee shop in an area that doesn't have much else going on is really putting you out.
Mary / May 29, 2012 at 04:45 pm
Great coffee, great service and comfortable atomsphere. Congrats! Finally great coffee in the neighbourhood :)
Kipkoo / May 29, 2012 at 04:56 pm
I just live down the street and was SO excited that we were getting a lovely indie coffee shop, and not a Coffee Time franchise or something. I've been in twice and was impressed both times with the service and the coffee. Am happy to have them in the 'hood!
Franco / May 29, 2012 at 07:20 pm
I've got to check it out.
Mike De Nino / May 29, 2012 at 07:37 pm
Its amazing how powerful this site is for advertising. I read the review earlier today and since I live in the area I decided to check it out. It was some of the best cofee I have ever tasted. I have lived here for years and have never experienced service quite like that at The Sovereign. The owners were welcoming and provided me with much more than an espresso. We chatted and they made me feel welcome. I'm extatic to have such an amazing and friendly cafe in my neighborhood. Thank you very much and congratulations on the new place!
Chris pavao / May 29, 2012 at 08:10 pm
Its amazing, great coffee, i pass by the area all the time and its about time a coffee shop is on this street! Great job guys! I recommend the superbar espresso its fantastic!
Phil / May 29, 2012 at 09:08 pm
Honestly, one of the top 5 espressos I've had in the city. A welcome addition to the neighborhood! Ross and John are so chill and welcoming. Congratulations. Everyone spread the word...
double j / May 29, 2012 at 09:20 pm
welcome to the nieghbourhood! one thing though; 'a drought of good espresso'? this place is down the hill from corso italia! a dozen of the best cafes outside of italy line st clair! i know toronto 'hoods are narrowly defined but, still. perhaps you mean 'a drought of hipster espresso'...
asadp / May 29, 2012 at 10:47 pm
yay something my neighborhood doesn't need and store that closes at 7 on weekdays and 5pm on weekends; lazy people . ll stick to the cafe near ossington
ROSIEBEE / May 29, 2012 at 11:28 pm
Daven P.'s comin up so you betta get this partay started!@!!!
Gary / May 30, 2012 at 06:56 am
The street address might have been a useful inclusion.
danielle replying to a comment from double j / May 30, 2012 at 08:12 am
Sorry, but I've had some of the worst cups of coffee in my life on Corso Italia. Confounding but true. And yeah, it doesn't hurt that this place has seriously upped the design ante in this 'hood. Much needed and appreciated!
double j replying to a comment from danielle / May 30, 2012 at 08:54 am
fair enough, danielle. not every cup of coffee will be to everyone's taste. my point was that the article was blatantly ignoring a slew of neighbourhood businesses that don't necessarily match the blog TO style. if upping the design ante is important to you, that's just fine. but keep the blinders off and recognize that things outside your comfort zone still exist.
Sara / May 30, 2012 at 08:56 am
What a fantastic idea! Let's bring back "neighbour" in Neighbourhood! Hopefully the drugatics won't make their way there from St. Clair!!
danielle replying to a comment from double j / May 30, 2012 at 10:13 am
Fair point. It's just that after living in the 'hood for close to seven years, it's nice to see it evolve beyond the bad sports bar/mediocre pizza & pasta joint business model that has dominated the area since the 80's.
Sandro / May 30, 2012 at 03:44 pm
If you're looking a friendly, neighbourhood cafe with no air about itself, then this is the place to enjoy some of the best espresso in the city and to taste some delicious homemade cookies (love the torrone!!). Thrilled I found this little gem @ Davenport and Dufferin. Some of the reviewers above have already said, but I gotta repeat it....great service, very welcoming, super friendly...Ross & John are proving there truly are a few good guys out there!!!
davenportdrone / May 31, 2012 at 09:54 am
Been here twice and the coffee here is extremely good. Despite the overabundance of coffee places in other parts of the city Sovereign still manages to stand out. There's no other coffee place on this strip (ok, Alcoa @ Ossington - but it's awful swill). Hopefully they stay consistent as many similar Toronto coffee places were once good, and gradually slipped into mediocrity. On top of it, yeah, the place appears to be your typical hipster coffee joint, but the service and attitude is anything but. While your average Dark Horse/Sam James/Lit thrives off a detached, vaguely snobby indifference to its clientele, these guys actually care, talk to you, ask how you'd like your coffee - without pretense (how novel)... That said, what really matters is the coffee - which is excellent. Full disclosure, my self interest is such that if these guys go under, there's no more coffee around here for me.
Ossington Mom / June 1, 2012 at 10:21 am
A great addition to the hood.
Luizinho / June 4, 2012 at 12:36 pm

The Sovereign is now on Twitter!/TheSovereign2
Luizinho replying to a comment from Luizinho / June 4, 2012 at 12:37 pm

The Sovereign is now on Facebook
Derek replying to a comment from Gary / June 9, 2012 at 08:47 am
Learning to scan the whole page might be a useful skill. Right sidebar, dude.
Gary replying to a comment from Derek / June 9, 2012 at 12:56 pm
Thanks! Consider me properly chastised.
jcitizen / June 21, 2012 at 03:31 pm
I'm going to this place after work. Moved into the area (concord st.) and initially was surprised at the lack of "indie" coffee shops considering how many "indie" types I see cruising the street. I'm a bit of an espresso snoot, so would love to find a local spot to hang.
Kali Hewitt-Blackie / June 24, 2012 at 06:04 pm
Two months ago we opened up our yoga studio, On Yoga, on Dufferin, just north of John and Ross's place. These guys are awesome! We had a community BBQ and they brought homemade goodies from their cafe.

ps. We've had their coffee -- just as good as in Spain or Italy.

Kali Hewitt-Blackie replying to a comment from Kali Hewitt-Blackie / June 24, 2012 at 06:06 pm
We feel so so blessed to be in the neighbourhood.
Alex / December 7, 2012 at 07:41 pm
you guys are doing great. good coffee and good atmosphere, we needed a place just like that in our neighbourhood.
PN replying to a comment from Luizinho / December 13, 2012 at 09:52 am
Their twitter is @SovereignCafe
Sandra DaSilva / February 11, 2013 at 05:21 pm
I love The Sovereign, I make it my Sunday retreat. Great coffee and excellent service, something you can't get anymore! As for the comment made by asadp (lazy ppl - closing @7pm is lazy?) I'd like to see you work there for 1 week as do the owners themselves, you'd be calling it quits! These individually owned Espresso Bars bring talent and effort something you don't get on st Clair, so I'd like to know which ( best cafes line st Clair) give me three I don't even need the dozen mentioned by double j. If a cafe gets a review please add to it reasonably. If you don't know, don't say. These are real ppl putting all their savings and effort, they need encouragement and positive criticism. The hours don't work for u (considering u probably have weekends off) something these guys don't have, well then that doesn't need to be said. You like another cafe better Go there. As for the Sovereign Reign on!
Angelune / April 18, 2013 at 03:49 pm
I love this place. The coffee is delicious and the guys are very nice. Corso Italia has a lot of espresso bars but you often have to walk through a cloud of cigarette smoke or leering men to get a coffee. This place and the Mascot are my favourite coffee shops in the city.
Nicola Brasciola / May 21, 2013 at 06:57 pm

Boys, good luck. Great coffee and a great place to relax and collect your roots. Fills a great void left in my life by the closing of The Rockabilly. Buona fortuna!!!
Mishka / March 26, 2014 at 05:31 am
Recently discovered their AMAZING blends with options of almond milk ( not just gross soy milk or disgusting lactose free that most coffee shops offer). This cafe blows Starbucks and many traditional coffee shops out of the water! Best place to hold a casual meeting or catch up on paper work. I'd highly recommend The Sovereign.
Natasha tompkins / April 10, 2015 at 12:04 pm
Without a doubt the best coffee shop in the city (next to the sterling social)! They have the loveliest crew of people working there and excellent coffee!!!! They just introduced a breakfast/lunch menu that I highly recommend everyone try. Couldn't speak anymore highly about the sovereign. Double thumbs up boys!
Emily / August 6, 2015 at 07:08 pm
What's up? They are closing earlier it seems, website is down and now are they even serving food? Confused.

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