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Best of Toronto

The Best Coffee Roasters in Toronto

Posted by Erinn Beth Langille / December 9, 2013

Coffee Roasters TorontoThe best coffee roasters in Toronto reminds one of the glitch that exists in this city's duel obsessions with sustainability and indie cafes. While we love our coffee, we can't grow it here, leaving us with a little moral quandary about heavy consumption of our favourite cup. Since coffee production is located in the tropics, there is potential exploitation of land and workers, CO2 emissions in travel and roasting, and heavy packaging to consider.

Hence the rise of Toronto's local coffee roasters where attention can be paid to directly sourced, fairly traded beans expertly roasted in the area, using the greenest technology to lower the environmental impact of coffee drinking. This search for the increasingly ethical and fresh has only enhanced the flavour profiles of coffee available here. What feels good, and is good, tastes good too.

Here are the best coffee roasters in Toronto.

See also:

The best cafes in Toronto (West Side)
The best cafes in Toronto (East Side)
The best late night cafes in Toronto
The best Americano in Toronto
The best cappuccino in Toronto
The best cafe patios in Toronto

Pilot Coffee Roasters
The brainchild of Andy and Jessie Wilkins, Pilot Coffee beans are used at their own Te Aro locations and a number of high profile cafes across Toronto and Canada. This roaster methodically sources beans through Direct Trade and roasts these varietals with the utmost care at their new roasting facility near their Leslieville cafe.

Social Coffee and Tea Company
Social Coffee and Tea. Who would have thought you could start a revolution in Richmond Hill? This well-respected roasting company consistently places in the top tier of several international roasting competitions and their premier blends of socially conscious roasted beans are also winners at home. Their blends People's Daily and People's Liberation, amongst others, have coffee drinkers united in celebration. Available at Dineen Coffee and many other local spots.

Pig Iron RoastersPig Iron Roasters
As Joe Angellotti's passion for coffee grew with the success of his two Lit Espresso Bars, he turned his attention to roasting and began Pig Iron Roasters. Named after the vintage Probat roaster they had shipped from Barcelona and rebuilt in Oklahoma before setting up in Mississauga, the beans can be cupped at any Lit location, and their Steel Wheel espresso blend has a loyal following.

Cut Coffee
Think great coffee in Toronto and you think Sam James, Sam James Coffee Bar and now his baby, Cut Coffee. Funnelling his obsession with all things caffeinated into roasting, he has set up shop in the Junction. After months of testing, Cut is served at all SJCB extensions, and it's no surprise he highlights beans from places, like Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, that are a bit off-the-beaten-path. Cutting edge, indeed.

Detour Coffee
Detour Coffee has a cafe in Dundas and a roasting warehouse in Burlington, but as the supplier of beans for such indie coffee darlings as Dark Horse, we've come to consider these roasters our very own. They focus on great coffee roasting and brewing through sustainable practices, using a combination of direct trade and importers, and a Loring Smart Roaster, "the greenest roaster on the market."

De Mello Palheta
De Mello Palheta, around Yonge and Eglinton, is the product of Melbourne-trained Korean Brothers Felix and Won Cha who roast their select beans in a state-of-the-art roaster at the back of their eponymous cafe. Try their Dancing Goat or Deadman Walking blends before taking some home. The physical closeness of the roasting process to the brewing and cupping experience makes for a coffee lover's dream.

Sense Appeal Coffee beansSense Appeal
Sense Appeal Coffee Roasters is known for its scientific approach to coffee brewing and the bean treatment is no different. A former sommelier heads the coffee program and with his love of experimentation Sense Appeal has some unusual flavour profiles but two potent favourites remain - GN, their single origin espresso, and AG, their blended espresso.

Merchants of Green / Fresh Coffee Network
This roaster lives up to its green moniker. With blends for the Jane Goodall Institute, The Stop and the Evergreen charity, not only are beans ethically sourced and locally roasted in their Riverside location, but money from each pound sold goes back to the organizations to help them with chimpanzee protection, greening urban environments and sustainable food systems education.

Classic Gourmet Coffee
John Rufino's engineering background inspired him to create the most nearly perfect roasting process imaginable - an all-stainless steel plant in Concord that recycles the heat from its roasters to increase energy efficiency. Since coffee's footprint is hardly small - as long as we can't grow it here, transportation will always be a factor - Classic tries to make what goes on here as low-emission as possible, while maximizing pure flavour. It's worked, and customers include Bulldog Coffee, Cava, Woodlot, George and the Gladstone.

Photos by Morris Lum and Jesse Milns

Discussion

41 Comments

me / December 9, 2013 at 02:17 pm
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give me a break.
Anne / December 9, 2013 at 02:29 pm
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You missed The Village Roaster on Kingston Rd near Markham Rd. Fair Trade, roasted on site and can do custom roasts.
tt / December 9, 2013 at 02:36 pm
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Nice list. My fave is the Coffee Tree in Bloor West Village (at Jane), their small batch roasts are excellent and well-balanced. Plus, they're super friendly ($18-$20/lb).
Moonbeam in Kensigton Market is another good source of locally roasted beans. Local, tastes good, and rather cheap (around $10/lb).
tt / December 9, 2013 at 02:37 pm
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*MoonbeaN
toomuchcoffeeman / December 9, 2013 at 02:50 pm
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Pilot Roasters also deliver their beans around the city using a cargo bicycle. way cool. I pick up their beans at Lazy Daisy's on gerrard.
nb / December 9, 2013 at 04:56 pm
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You are aware that it's Merchants of Green Coffee, not just Merchants of Green, right?
CKS / December 9, 2013 at 08:01 pm
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Mountainview coffee company should DEFINITELY be on here. They've got fantastic coffee and the owners are really nice. I was just someone who happened to walk into their cafe and even though I obviously wasn't going to do business with them, they took the time out to explain to me the complete process of coffee roasting, the freshness of all the beans, where they get the beans from, and which coffee would be best suited for my taste. Also, they're coffee is ridiculously good. People in the cafe, who were also really friendly, told me how far out of the way they go just to get their brew from Mountainview. They have like 754823507238907 kind a well. Ya'll are craaaaaaaaaaaazy
MF / December 9, 2013 at 08:39 pm
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Carvalho coffe has the best coffee. This place roasts Brazilian Specialty Coffee, you should try.
Michelle / December 9, 2013 at 08:43 pm
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You guys missed the up and coming Hale Coffee Roasters, they're brining great quality to T.O
http://halecoffee.com/
Ajc33 / December 9, 2013 at 10:12 pm
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I agree with CKS that mountain view needs to be on this list. They serve it up at the morning glory and it never ceases to impress me. Great brew.
Dimitry / December 9, 2013 at 10:50 pm
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Can't miss ideal coffee! Some of the best organic beans in the city for my espresso machine come from here. (Around $16/lb)
markosaar / December 10, 2013 at 09:56 am
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Another vote for Moonbean. Admittedly I've only been to a couple of the places on this list. I really like the beans from Ezra's Pound too, but I'm not clear on who is roasting them, or where they're being roasted.
Ken / December 10, 2013 at 01:49 pm
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I'm confused by the Social Coffee and Tea Company. Their name and branding suggest that they are socially-conscious, yet nowhere on their site do they mention if their beans are fair trade. They make mention of the 'heroic farmer" but not whether they pay them a living wage. Many of these other roasters are very clear about their ethics and practices on their site -- what's the deal with Social?
Solabusca / December 10, 2013 at 03:50 pm
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What, no Spitfire? What did Cherry Bomb do to BlogTO to get knocked off BOTH the Roasters list AND Best Cafe in the West End?
J MURRAY / December 10, 2013 at 05:43 pm
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AND....No mention of Dark City Coffee, who actually roasts the coffee for Ideal and Merchants of Green Coffee...One of the oldest boutique roasters in the city. Over 80 varietals at any one time. Also, they bring in Feminino Blends...women-only enterprises that harvest exquisite coffees. Dark City is the first to recognize and promote these plantations. blogto: do your research.
yyzgirl / December 11, 2013 at 01:10 am
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Agreed on Dark City - they also deliver! We've been ordering from them since 2007 - call by noon and they deliver fresh-roasted beans the next day. No delivery fee on 2 pounds or more. Delicious espresso roast. BlogTO favorably reviewed in 2010 but may have forgotten about them. http://www.darkcitycoffee.com
yyzgirl / December 11, 2013 at 01:10 am
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Agreed on Dark City - they also deliver! We've been ordering from them since 2007 - call by noon and they deliver fresh-roasted beans the next day. No delivery fee on 2 pounds or more. Delicious espresso roast. BlogTO favorably reviewed in 2010 but may have forgotten about them. http://www.darkcitycoffee.com
Vanessa / December 12, 2013 at 01:46 pm
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You missed Everyday Gourmet Coffee Roasters in St. Lawrence Market also.
They've been there since the 1970s, an amazing family-owned business roasting onsite every single day.
Amazing variety, knowledgable staff and many fair trade and organic options. They really know their stuff!
Andrew / December 12, 2013 at 02:16 pm
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Hey, you guys should really check out http://mojoeclub.launchrock.com/. There a new coffee service which delivers coffee beans to your front door. There still in the early stages, but im giving them a chance and trying it out for the first month. You guys should check it out.
Candice / December 15, 2013 at 07:30 pm
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Alternative Grounds should really be on this list! Especially since the cafe has now closed so it's 100% a roasting business these days: http://www.alternativegrounds.com/whats-new

And of course, Crema has a new roasting business that BlogTO actually wrote about back in September... Propeller Coffee Co.
Khaled Rayyan / December 18, 2013 at 02:04 pm
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check our Toronto's newest roaster. Hale Coffee Company on Queen & Spadina is now serving The Tango Palace & The Mad Bean (some of the bigger espresso bars around town) while also catering to a host of restaurants, bars and brunch spots.

They do sell online, either singular buys or on a subscription based service. Freshly roasting and delivering.

javalover / January 11, 2014 at 04:04 pm
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Dark City Coffee roasts daily and delivers! They have many fair trade options roasted as want. Always delicious. Darkcitycoffee.com
me / January 12, 2014 at 02:44 pm
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um....er.... full of beans???
Michael / January 12, 2014 at 05:09 pm
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Congrats to all the roasters on this list. Please contact me if you are interested in getting your coffee packaged as K-Cups at mike@mycoffeebrew.com.
Lily / January 13, 2014 at 12:11 am
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I love the coffee from Muldoon's coffee. They roast it right onsite and its the freshest coffee I've ever tasted. And they make 100% biodegradable singles, now I don't feel guilty throwing away so much plastic like I used to with my Kuereg.
Darrin / January 22, 2014 at 11:07 am
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Balzac's roasts some damn fine coffee. They're not headquartered in Toronto I guess, but you can certainly get their coffee here. Give it a try if you haven't.

Oh, and +1 for Propeller!
Chris / January 23, 2014 at 10:40 am
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Seriously? Have you guys been to full of beans?
Paulina / January 23, 2014 at 01:06 pm
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I leave a response whenever I appreciate a post on a site or if I
have something to valuable to contribute to the discussion.
Usually it's caused by the passion displayed in the article I browsed.

And on this post The Best Coffee Roasters in Toronto.
I was moved enough to leave a thought :) I actually do have
2 questions for you if it's allright. Could it be just me or do some of these comments appear
as if they are written by brain dead individuals?

:-P And, if you are posting at additional places, I would like to follow anything fresh you have to post.

Would you list all of your social sites like your twitter feed,
Facebook page or linkedin profile?
Jorge Umana / January 30, 2014 at 06:26 pm
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Hello,
We are coffee farmers from Tarrazu, Costa Rica and we have an office here in Toronto, the address is as follows:

DON EVELIO Coffee Company.
48 Finch Ave. W, Willowdale, Toronto, Ontario Canada
Telephone: +647 706 1560
Mobile: +416 816 7961
Email: sales@donevelio.com

We roast highland coffee in small batches and sell it by the pound. Just give us a call and we will prepare a bag for you
Regards
Jorge
dylan / February 2, 2014 at 04:49 pm
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i don't know what all the hype is about detours? bought some beans at their burlington roaster and when i get home, i find out that they're half roasted. not really worth it to go back and get an exchange. should've just bought beans at fortinos...at least their coffee is drinkable.
Greg A. / February 13, 2014 at 12:21 am
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This list is dubious at best, you could have easily done with half the roasters on this list. Social coffee is only popular because of it's wholesale price to coffee shops. Cut Coffee is too new to bother including, and in my experience has been too inconsistent to warrant any of the hype around it. Merchants of Green has a good ideology but their coffee is way below average.
Ron Davis / March 22, 2014 at 09:27 am
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Moonbean!
Lukas / April 1, 2014 at 08:50 am
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I don't know anything about roasters, but I only not far away discovered that coffee machines are also important and not only talking about taste, but also about health. Friend of mine, who is a doctor told me that the best way to prepare healthy coffee is espresso machine. It is because then coffee is burned less and do not make toxins. I trusted him and I believe it was the best decission I have ever made. Here you can see my coffee machine- Philips Saeco aparatai :) Believe me, every coffee lover should do the same
J replying to a comment from Lukas / April 19, 2014 at 02:28 pm
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That doesn't make sense at all and sounds like some exceptional pseudoscience.

The only tangible difference between an espresso machine and other forms of brewing is the pressure at which the coffee grounds are extracted at (typically >9 bar). Regardless of brewing method your water should be in the range of 195-205F which will not 'burn' the beans. The problem with cheaper coffee makers is that they do not get the water hot enough nor do they distribute the water over the grounds consistently for an even extraction, or the ones with hot plates begin ruining the coffee in the carafe after it's brewed.

With an espresso machine you can actually burn the grounds if you fill the portafilter too high and touch the element, but I'd be more concerned with the poor taste than any supposed toxins.
Phil / May 20, 2014 at 05:08 pm
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Pilot... it's not even close.
ruyoung / May 28, 2014 at 10:14 am
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How could you miss Full of Beans on Dundas West for this list? The scent in the neighbourhood is divine.

It's now brewed in a number of coworking spaces in Toronto too.
Patrick McGowan / May 31, 2014 at 08:31 am
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Some of these coffees are just wretched. Burnt, sour, unbalanced. Rated by people who don't know how to taste coffee. A list so bad, I'm ready to unfollow blogTO.
Kelly / July 5, 2014 at 01:56 pm
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Alternative Grounds Roastery. The cafe closed down but they still roast and their beans are sold at JUNCTION FROMAGERIE, Mabel's, Evergreen, Sunny Joe's, Good Catch, West End Food Coop and Nuthouse.
Igor / August 11, 2014 at 02:15 pm
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i love a good coffee
Nelson / September 20, 2014 at 08:56 pm
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I tried dark city coffee based on some recommendations and the ability to choose the roast level. I noticed that all over the website they mentioned that if I am not satisfied with my order they would send another one free of charge, so I figured I had nothing to lose even though they are a bit more expensive than the beans I usually get and love at pilot.

I had ordered a medium roast and the beans showed up very dark and labelled as "Vienna roast". Most sources consider that to be a dark roast and I couldn't taste any of the characteristics of the bean. No problem, I figured, different people have different opinions of what is dark and what is medium. So I wrote politely and asked if maybe there was a mistake. No they said, Vienna is the medium. So I asked for an order of the light roast as my replacement since I wasn't satisfied.

They refused to live up to the guarantee written all over the website and would not send me my replacement. I could understand this if they had no guarantee on the website, but this seems like false advertising to me.
Andrew replying to a comment from Ken / October 18, 2014 at 06:55 am
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@ Ken:
Check out the difference between Fair Trade and Direct trade, which Social is. Fair Trade is a trade mark, a corporate brand. There have been several studies recently which cast doubt on the positive impact that Fair Trade claims to impart.

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