ontario coffee shops

The top 10 coffee shops in Southern Ontario

The top coffee shops in southern Ontario will give you a reason to get up in the morning, and get out of the city. Toronto is great and all, but it gets a little claustrophobic at times, a proverbial tempest in a teapot (or coffeepot may be a more apt phrase in this case)?

Instead of the dizzying array of competing indie cafés in Toronto, where everybody knows your name (and everyone else's too), find an oasis of coffee culture elsewhere, gain some refreshing anonymity, and take in some local culture while you're at it. You'll be pleasantly surprised to see that excellent coffee does, in fact, exist outside the big smoke - and cool people and friendly faces do, too.

Here are my picks for the top 10 coffee shops in southern Ontario.

Detour (Dundas)
I urge you, take a detour, whatever detours you have to, to get to Detour coffee. Their Dundas location is considered one of the best coffee roasters in the province, producing gems like Punch Buggy Espresso and Dark Horse Espresso. You can find both of those in the city, but then you wouldn't get to experience it in their sweet café, where they'll pull you a perfect shot.

Cannon Coffee Co. (Hamilton)
Threats of everyone moving to Hamilton might just come true if they knew about The Cannon. In addition to using beans from Detour, Red Hill Coffee and Speakeasy and special features like Stockholm's Drop, they offer Chemex and ceramic pour overs, and the space itself is sophisticated and inviting. Also, hello, they make Elaine-approved muffin tops!

Espresso Post (Collingwood)
Eleven years of training and working in Seattle, the original coffee-culture hub, will certainly grant you some major coffee skills, as Espresso Post barista Mark Krause proves daily while he whips up those lattes. He and partner Christene Anacleto Krause have placed in the regional barista championships. Test out those chops when you sample signature beans like the Postmaster's Roast and the Special Delivery in their beautiful café.

The Fire Roasted Coffee Company (London)
The Fire Roasted Coffee Company brings the pleasures of artisanal roasting and café culture to London. They roast over 50 types of coffee, both blends and single origin beans, most of which you can try at one of their three café locations, or at the Fireroasted Espresso trailer in spring and summer. The best part? They are 100% fair trade certified.

Locomotive Espresso (London)
Locomotive Espresso in London is quietly chugging along, making some of the best coffee in the city. Featuring beans from Toronto darling Pilot Coffee Roasters on an ooh-la-la La Marzocco machine, and fully stocked with the latest coffee merchandise and specialty equipment, Locomotive Espresso takes their cup seriously.

Death Valley's Little Brother Craft Espresso and Whisky (Waterloo)
Could there be a more winning combination than craft espresso and whisky? DVLB doesn't think so, and neither will you once you step inside this Waterloo watering hole. They feature Detour beans on their espresso machine or as a pourover, baked goods from Circles & Squares and Desmond & Beatrice, and whisky from all over the place.

Miss Lily's Cafe (Picton)
Miss Lily's Cafe serves Social coffee on a Synesso Cynra and bakes nearly all of their cakes and goodies in house. And it was a wise move to take over the adjoining space beside Books & Company - books and coffee are one of the world's best pairings, IMHO. As if you needed another reason to visit Prince Edward County.

Royal Majesty Espresso Bar (Blue Mountain)
At the base of Blue Mountain near the village centre you'll be happy to find Royal Majesty Espresso Bar serving Intelligentsia coffee and a variety of treats (plus they're licensed!). There's no better way to start or end a long ski day than with one of the fine lattes and a cinnamon roll - they are baked fresh three times daily.

Kerr Street Café (Oakville)
Kerr Street Café in Oakville makes some damn fine coffee on their La Marzocco, and if you order something with foam - say a latte or a cappuccino - it'll come with some damn fine art on top as well. The space is bright and soothing, plus you can get brunch items to go with those great coffees every day of the week.

Monigram Coffee Roasters (Cambridge)
Monigram Coffee Roasters in Cambridge pays close attention to the quality of their beans and the accuracy of their roasts, and you can taste their commitment in each cup. Using pourover, drip, 24-hour cold drip and and their fancy Synesso espresso machine, you can test out the results of their roasting program at their great downtown cafe.


Coffeeco (Kingston)
If you are looking for ethical and delicious coffee production in Kingston, look no further than Coffeeco. Using their parent company Multatuli Coffee Merchants' special espresso blend, they make up the best espressos, cappuccinos and lattes in the city in either of their two locations. I love the one opposite Market Square - its floor-to-ceiling windows that swing open in the summer allow you to feel part of the bustling local farmer's market.

Did I miss any? Leave your favourite coffee shop outside Toronto in the comments.

Photo of Detour Cafe

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