The Best Cappuccino in Toronto
The best cappuccino in Toronto is the result of a contest with brutally narrow parameters - marrying an espresso pull to a head of milk froth is the test of a barista, and the result tells you everything you need to know about the people working behind the counter. Pretty patterns carved into the foam are an elaboration that says a lot about the skill of the barista, but adds nothing to the taste. Still, the proliferation of foam and crema flowers, hearts and heraldic flourishes says a lot about the baroque state of the current coffee market.
Perched midway between the bracing and austere espresso shot and the milky overkill of the latte, the cappuccino is probably the perfect coffee drink, mulling down the bitter punch of the bean with air and dairy foam, and a contest for the best cappuccinos in the city provides a ranking of coffee shops in general.
Here are the 12 best cappuccinos in Toronto as voted by readers of this site.
Sam James takes his coffee seriously. He has been called a “celebrity barista” but the term “coffee geek” would do just as well, with no offense intended - the man truly loves his coffee, and he’s become the standard bearer for coffee geeks in their java boutiques all across the city. More »
The Junction favourite expanded to a second location this past year next to Freshii at Yonge and Bloor. Airy foam and dark espresso makes for a dramatic drink, like Tim Burton’s Hamlet. More »
Bring your laptop, ignore your neighbour at the big communal tables, and call it city living, one decade into the 21st century. With two locations and counting, Dark Horse makes a smooth, sweet cappuccino with a velvety froth, all the better to fuel the staycationers and telecommuters. More »
Another forthrightly geeky coffee house that offers cuppings to educate regulars on the mysteries of the bean. Under the foam art the froth is consistent, almost like a souffle, while the shot has a pleasant bitterness that almost disappears with a bit of sugar. More »
In most cappuccino the coffee is the low note; this College St. cafe manages to do this with the milk - some sort of violation of the laws of physics, I’m sure, thanks to an espresso pull with only the faintest bitterness. More »
The airiest foam so far sits on top of an espresso shot with a hint of bitterness that disappears with the second sip. This cafe, near the edge of where Riverside turns into Leslieville, has an edgy reputation, but their cappuccino has a fleeting aftertaste that goes from cup to memory with only the briefest hesitation. More »
Locals are fiercely loyal to this Cabbagetown institution, and the place can feel like a caffeinated Cheers most of the time. Jet Fuel predates the T.O. coffee craze by many years, and it shows - no milk foam artwork here, just a pillow of milky foam with a bead of coffee punched through the middle, with Jet Fuel’s signature punchy espresso singing through. More »
Paper cups and line-ups – locals know what to expect from this Roncy Village favorite. Yes, the baked goods are amazing, but don’t let that distract from one of the most consistently satisfying coffee shops in the city. Foam art in a paper cup might seem like a waste, but let’s just call it art for art’s sake. More »
“I call it a scorpion tail,” the barista tells me as he hands me what was probably the most complex bit of cappuccino foam art on the list. The espresso pull has mere traces of bitter tang, the milk is so airy it’s hard to see how it supports the artwork etched on top - a perfect summer cappuccino, in other words. More »
You can play spot the indie star in this cafe hangout smack in the middle of the city’s west end musician’s enclave. Or you can enjoy the massive flavour of their cappuccino, which is dominated by a big major seventh chord of espresso, which only harmonizes with the milk after a dash of sugar intervenes. More »
Finally, a truly old school coffee joint, with a pool table in the back and soccer on the TV, in Toronto’s often-overlooked east end Italian enclave. No foam frescos here either - just a neat, potent shot with a thick head of milky foam. The owners blend their espresso from three different brands, but it’s the sort of effort that’s happily obscured in a place that prides itself on its effortlessness. More »