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Best of Toronto

The Best New Cafes in Toronto, 2009

Posted by Tim / January 7, 2010

Best New Cafes TorontoCafe culture in Toronto has experienced something of a renaissance over the past few years. 12 months ago I couldn't get over what a banner year 2008 had been with the emergence of cafes like Zoots, LIT, Crema and Broadview Espresso. Little did I know at the time that 2009 would be even better.

From Leslieville to Dundas West and beyond, great little cafes are sprouting up sometimes two to a block. Free WiFi, fair trade beans, latte art and soy milk have become what seem like basic offerings at this point. And why not? Many agree that Toronto is a city that runs on coffee and thankfully there are plenty of entrepreneurs out there to show us how much better it can get than the generic Timmies or Starbucks offerings.

So time to up your caffeine intake. Why not? I did. From zero to two cups a day, almost just so I had an excuse to hang out at these cafes. And isn't coffee good for you now anyway?

Here are the 18 best new cafes to open in Toronto during 2009.

Te Aro

Te Aro

Sandwiched between Mercury and Tango Palace, Te Aro has nevertheless managed to build a devoted following who flock to its converted garage space for expertly prepared lattes, tasty lunch options and snacks and the occasional coffee cupping. Service is always super friendly which must have something to do with the founders being from New Zealand. More »

Dark Horse (Chinatown)

Dark Horse (Chinatown)

Having created an insanely popular initial Dark Horse near Queen and Broadview, Deanna Zunde and Ed Lynds one-upped themselves when they opened a second, larger location in Chinatown last spring. The light-filled post and beam space is amazing, only trumped by the same quality drinks as the Riverside original. More »

Sam James Coffee Bar

Sam James Coffee Bar

Revered as one of the best baristas around, Sam James finally got his own digs this summer on Harbord St. Getting coffee here is more than just an energy kick, it's an experience. Just don't expect to hang around long and write that novel as seating is limited. More »

White Squirrel Coffee Shop

White Squirrel Coffee Shop

Line-ups were de rigueur this past summer across from Bellwoods Park but they weren't for Chippy's, Nadege or Clafouti. With Greg's ice cream, good coffee, brownies and other sweet snacks, White Squirrel Coffee Bar continues to draw crowds to its prime West Queen West location, a recipe for success that must be old hat for its owner, formerly a partner at Aunties and Uncles. More »

Holy Oak Cafe

Holy Oak Cafe

As Blansdowne has emerged to be, well, not so bland anymore, it needed a good cafe and luckily the Holy Oak has been up for the task. With Harmony milk and Intelligentsia beans the ingredients used here are some of the best. Even the scones are baked with fair trade ingredients. Bonus! They serve Finnish pancakes every Sunday. More »

Lil' Bean N' Green

Lil' Bean N' Green

Toronto's best kid (and mum and dad) friendly cafe isn't where you want to go if you're not familiar with items like strollers, slings and pack 'n plays. But for anyone looking to chill out with a cappuccino while their 2 year old screams around a secure, supervised play area, this is the place. More »

The Green Grind

The Green Grind

Just when it seems the movement to go green has lost a little momentum, along comes Toronto's newest eco-friendly cafe. Only open since December, The Green Grind pairs a sweet light-infused space upstairs at College and Manning with organic, fair trade coffee and all sorts of environmentally friendly practices More »

The Rooster Coffee House

The Rooster Coffee House

The newest cafe on this list, The Rooster Coffee House just opened last month on a sleepy stretch of Broadview across from Riverdale Park. The space is decked out in tables and chairs crafted together by the owners and having good coffee and hot chocolate this close to a toboggan run is such an incentive to play in the snow more that it's amazing nobody thought to open a cafe here before. More »

Si Espresso Bar

Si Espresso Bar

If Danforth is a divide, Si Espresso Bar has Broadview covered when Broadview Espresso seems just a bit too far to go. The bright pink exterior bellies the high energy vibe contained within as Edge (the owner) isn't afraid to let you know how he likes his coffee (like most things in life - laid back). More »

Jimmy's Coffee

Jimmy's Coffee

This cozy cafe near King and Portland has a thing for Jimmy's. Mugs of famous ones adorn one of its walls. Let's see, there's Carter, Hendrix, Morrison, Hoffa. Can you guess them all? But more than just a cutesy concept, the cafe knows how to pour a latte and service is always with a smile. More »

Sideshow Cafe

Sideshow Cafe

Gerrard St.'s best cafe (ok, so maybe there aren't any other contenders, but still), the Sideshow Cafe is an eclectic little gem right next to the Centre of Gravity circus school. This is the only place in town you'll see signs for espresso, free WiFi and circus lessons all lined up next to each other. More »

Discussion

28 Comments

J / January 7, 2010 at 02:49 pm
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Great list. I frequent the Top 3, plus communal mule. All quality cafes that have been a great addition to the toronto coffee scene.
Typical / January 7, 2010 at 03:22 pm
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Lets not forget any new Tim Hortons that opened up.
Jamison / January 7, 2010 at 03:38 pm
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I was just at the new dark horse enjoying a spro. Was at Te Aro yesterday doing the same thing. Great coffee in TO.
Anthony / January 7, 2010 at 04:34 pm
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Anyone else notice a big hole east of Yonge and South of Bloor? Aside from Hanks, aren't there any cool cafes in the area?
Lisa / January 7, 2010 at 05:05 pm
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Great list, but there is one great spot missing - Manic on College.
Tim replying to a comment from Lisa / January 7, 2010 at 05:09 pm
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These are the best "new" cafes (ie. opened in 2009). Manic opened in 2007. Here's our review:

http://www.blogto.com/cafes/manic

To Anthony: By east of Yonge and south of Bloor I assume you also mean west of the DVP. If that's the case there are quite a number of great cafes to choose from. Here are some of them:

http://www.blogto.com/cafes/jetfuel
http://www.blogto.com/cafes/bulldog
http://www.blogto.com/cafes/bisogno
http://www.blogto.com/cafes/bespresso
http://www.blogto.com/cafes/balzacs
Not a Coffee Drinker replying to a comment from Jamison / January 7, 2010 at 08:41 pm
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A spro? Is that what the cool kids are calling espresso these days? Puh-leese.
Jo / January 7, 2010 at 10:16 pm
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How about the Green Beanery at Bloor and Bathurst? Refurbished TD bank selling organic coffee. I thought that was pretty awesome.
baby / January 8, 2010 at 12:29 am
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Is there a place in Toronto where I can get coffee from a burner? Where was that picture taken from?
BootS On Sale / January 8, 2010 at 03:17 am
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www.bootsonsale.net

Ugg boots are especially manufactured keeping in mind more of a casual look,so it definitely matters if you are to carry a casual look or for a party.When it comes to clothes,we do have certain preferences.It feels like on the top of this world when we get to have something which is so smart yet elegant.So,try out once and wear with that outfit.You will feel on the top of this world.
Brad J. replying to a comment from Anthony / January 8, 2010 at 07:32 am
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"Anyone else notice a big hole east of Yonge and South of Bloor? Aside from Hanks, aren't there any cool cafes in the area?"

There are, but this is a list of new cafes opened in 2009 only. Savoury Grounds, Dark Horse east, Balzacs, Mercatto, Jet Fuel, and many more are on the downtown east side.
Pip replying to a comment from Anthony / January 8, 2010 at 08:18 am
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Plus no one cares about the east end.
Their coffee tastes weird out that way.
Eastender replying to a comment from Pip / January 8, 2010 at 08:39 am
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"Plus no one cares about the east end.
Their coffee tastes weird out that way."

If anything the east has more of a coffee culture than the west--Dark Horse, Mercury, et al.
Matt on his bike / January 8, 2010 at 10:07 pm
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"If anything the east has more of a coffee culture than the west--Dark Horse, Mercury, et al."

Faaaaaak! Hey Eastender, eat hook line and sinker much?
espresso machine / January 9, 2010 at 10:10 am
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Great list: been to quite a few of them: the best: Ezra's Pound, Te Aro, and sometimes (but not always) manic ( I know, not on the list) I try to avoid places that use 49th parallel.
Ash replying to a comment from Not a Coffee Drinker / January 9, 2010 at 05:27 pm
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Not the cool kids. Only the serious coffee drinkers with a sense of humour.
I'll never use the word "sick" to describe something but I'd absently say to another barista "had a 'spro over at... the other day."

Just silly barista jargon. Don't worry about it. We'll keep the weirdness to ourselves :)
m / January 13, 2010 at 11:08 am
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love, love, love jimmy's! perfect espresso. simple space and service. in a city over saturated with pretentious coffee, jimmy's is an extremely refreshing addition to toronto.
Josh / January 14, 2010 at 10:54 am
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I agree that this list is pretty great.. however I'd add Prana Coffee Bar located on Dundas (just east of Royal York) to this list. It may not be huge now - but it's got potential and it will be bigger and greater one day in the near future. Keep your eyes out for it and try it out. Brandon roasts his own coffee there too...
Simone / January 28, 2010 at 07:48 pm
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What about Ella's Uncle on Dundas West? They have amazing coffee and delicious baked goods, particularly their cheese scone.
Simone / January 28, 2010 at 07:49 pm
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What about Ella's Uncle on Dundas West? They have amazing coffee and delicious baked goods, particularly their cheese scone.
Robert replying to a comment from Simone / February 15, 2010 at 05:30 pm
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It's called a "New Cafe" list, so......like cafes that are a few years old....are like.....not new.
Will Scott / March 9, 2010 at 09:09 am
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When are you media guys going to start looking forward to the next big event in coffee - the exploration and development of single origin coffees - and stop bigging up the espresso bars (who buy in a blend of beans, typically not roasted in-house)? Wher are the micro-roasters in your list? I see Te Are...but no TAN Coffee, 992 Queen Street West!
:(
Josh / March 9, 2010 at 09:44 am
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I'd have to agree with Will Scott. As crucialas the espresso blends are to the coffee world... the single-origin coffees tend to get lost in the shuffle of everything. Single-origin coffees can make great shots of espresso as well, especially some nice, medium-roasted latin-american coffees. Prana Coffee Bar will be opening up a new location in the Beaches soon and they roast (superbly) in-house (just so you have another one there Will).
Mike Barbosa replying to a comment from J / December 22, 2010 at 01:23 pm
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The Mascot was forgotten as well a great lil shop that not only sells coffee but promotes local artists and offers a great amibiance with out the stuck up snobbery of other cafes

Go Mascot
testerone for men / December 21, 2011 at 10:38 pm
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i can agree with the article
COSPLAY / September 26, 2012 at 10:06 pm
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I was just at the new dark horse enjoying a spro. Was at Te Aro yesterday doing the same thing. Great coffee in TO.
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