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Yorkville Espresso Bar

Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on December 26, 2011

Yorkville Espresso BarYorkville Espresso Bar may seem simply an Italian cafe on the surface, but it also serves as a showroom through which owner Tony Briganti parades his development expertise.

I'm not sure exactly what to make of the space as I climb its steps off of Yorkville Ave. Sure, the cafe has the obligatory exposed brick wall, chalkboard menu, and bistro seating characteristic of many of Toronto's independent coffee shops, but it also has an open wall which leads to...a kitchen? Not a bakery kitchen, but one that looks akin to that you'd find in your parents' home.

Yorkville Espresso BarTony emerges from a back room just as I'm about to escape back to the cafe region and explains the dual-focused concept. "I had an office upstairs," he begins, "but I always wanted a storefront."

"The kitchen," he explains, "not only shows what we [his company, Rosemill Development Inc.] can do in terms of home renovations, but we have also partnered with The Cookbook Store to host events in the evening.

Yorkville Espresso BarIndeed, author Jennifer McLagan was at the space a couple weeks ago, cooking up cows' hearts, pigs' feet, and kidneys galore in support of her latest book, Odd Bits, which is available at The Cookbook Store.

Yorkville Espresso BarThese events explain what Tony calls an "early closing time" for the cafe (6 p.m.), though the time strikes me as relatively standard, at least when it comes to independent coffee shops. Speaking of which, Tony and I venture out of the kitchen and into the cafe, which he says was created with the intention of creating an authentic Italian experience. "Espresso and cannoli," he says. Both of which, of course, are on the menu.

Yorkville Espresso BarWhile the baked goods--which include cannoli, biscotti, brioche and more--come from a variety of different sources, the coffee is strictly Rufino organic, paired with the option of organic milk or soy milk (no extra charge). "I'd love to see this become a place where people pop in for an espresso," Tony says, noting the cafe does not offer WiFi. "Like they do in Europe."

Yorkville Espresso BarThere are just two tables so an extended stay would be difficult, though those interested in exploring the kitchen area and development aspects will indeed have much to look at. I glance over the drink menu, which includes basics such as espresso ($2.21) and Americano ($2.33), as well as specialty espresso shots including caffè marocchino ($2.87) and something called the "caffè Brigante" (named for Tony), which is essentially the marocchino except with white chocolate.

Yorkville Espresso BarI order the shot and am presented with the drink on a plate dusted with cacao powder. The shot is rich, dark, and chocolaty, sweetened on the last sip with the white chocolate remnants. Slightly melted by the hot espresso, I can't help but dig out the last chocolate bits with a spoon.

Yorkville Espresso BarTony says that the cafe will be introducing lunch items including pizza and sandwiches in the coming weeks. For now, Yorkville Espresso Bar is open weekdays starting at 7 a.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m., and Sundays at 10 a.m.

Yorkville Espresso BarPhotos by Morris Lum



M / December 26, 2011 at 11:11 am
Great read. I'm excited to try this place out!
David / December 26, 2011 at 12:22 pm
Looks terrific! Beautiful space and terrific espresso!
Matt Kantor / December 26, 2011 at 04:11 pm
It's a good space, I've done a couple of events there. Tony has done a great job of putting a talented staff together and is working hard to get good pastries in - as well as providing a good experience. I'm looking forward to where he goes with it.
Parker / December 29, 2011 at 11:12 am
Misplaced modifier: "Slightly melted by the hot espresso, I...";

YOU weren't melted by the espresso; the chocolate was.
Yazmin / December 30, 2011 at 12:20 pm
Gorgeous space! Great Coffee. The Barista "J" whom I've known for a while is not only a beautiful person, he actually knows what he is doing when it comes to the fine art of coffee. Yorkville Espresso will be my new stop while I am in Toronto. Good Luck!!!
AS / February 1, 2012 at 09:26 am
Delicious coffee - the barista made my Americano exactly how I liked it.
Gavin / February 12, 2012 at 03:56 pm
Justin is so knowledgeable about coffee and many other things, Roberto is so kind and Sam is the tea expert. The steps up make it less accessible but also makes me feel like it's my own space I'm going to be abit upset when this place is discovered but happy for them. Having a tea in there is like having it at your mothers kitchen table ;) Definitely higher than 3/5 as they beginin to develop there own niche.
Ptysia / February 29, 2012 at 01:41 pm
Since my first creamy, decadent latte here, I have been coming back for more - with anyone I can bring with me. Seriously the BEST tasting latte I have ever had. The barrista's are friendly and generous; there is a unique charm to coffee with friends in the kitchen show room. Overheard 2 guys on the subway yesterday talking about how delicious the coffee here is as well! :)
Stephanie / March 11, 2012 at 07:41 am
Just stumbled on this place yesterday afternoon when I was in the area. I'd been in line at a 'competitor' coffee place up the street (not to name names, but it started with a 'U') and was underwhelmed by the atmosphere and rude cashier. Before placing my order there I left and came to Yorkville where I encountered Roberto - an extremely kind barista who knew his stuff! Not just the coffee, but the story behind the companies and various baked goods they also carry. Their use of organic and fair trade is wonderful, the cafe is a perfect size space, and though I'm rarely in the area I plan to make this my regular stop when requiring a bit of caffeine intake. Quite a gem of a place, and lucky me for bailing on the other cafe up the street.
Nikki Crosato / February 11, 2014 at 09:44 am
The owners are very nice and welcoming.
The food there is fantastic.

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