Toronto Coffee Company
The Toronto Coffee Company is hoping to liven up the Bloordale community. Now I know what you're thinking; what isn't lively about sprawling dollar stores, a brazen corner strip club, and terrible, terrible 5 p.m. traffic? Perhaps I'm being harsh, and indeed, Toronto Coffee Company owners Blair Holder and Derrick Kent insist that Blansdowne is largely undervalued by non-neighbourhood natives.
"This spot was the engine of Toronto," Blair says leading me over to a wall with framed train pictures of the city's past. "I've lived in this area for seven years," he continues, "and really, it's a great neighbourhood."
Blair and Derrick, who have been friends for 30 years, decided to team up to satisfy the need for quality coffee in the area. Blair works in the music industry, and Derrick in health, but they both share a common appreciation for the west end, as well as for a fine cup of coffee.
"Coffee is the great equalizer," Blair says. "I want this to be a meeting place for the community."
On that note, Toronto Coffee Company could likely accommodate a rather large meeting (Blair hints at knitting meetups and live music events) with its ample square footage and mix of bar, bistro, and communal table seating. Playing off the history theme, the cafe has been outfitted with furniture and materials from Forever Interiors, including its exterior barn boards, solid oak church pew, harvest table, and custom bar and counters.
The coffee is a custom blend from Moonbean in Kensington Market, fair-trade and organic, created for its mochas ($3.50), espresso (s$2, d$2.50) and signature coconut latte ($4.50). I'm tempted to try the signature, especially as Blair rattles off the nutritional benefits of coconut milk, but knowing how it can sometimes plague my stomach, I opt for my tried-and-true Americano instead.
It has a rich, almost fruity undertone, and pairs well with the stuffed focaccia from OMG ($2.85) Blair insists I try. OMG also supplies the vegan cupcakes and some other diet-specific sweet treats, sharing counter space with the cookies, muffins and more from Red Bean a little further west.
Toronto Coffee Company strikes me as a comfortable place to kick back with your laptop (free WiFi and a comfy couch at the back, of course) or converge with a group late into the night (open until midnight, liquor license application in), but who knows what it will do to uplift the community's reputation. According to Blair, the neighbourhood is one of "purposeful artistic people," who, he hopes, will start to convene in the newly minted cafe.
Photos by Jesse Milns