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Best of Toronto

The Best New Cafes in Toronto, 2010

Posted by Tim / January 3, 2011

New Cafes Toronto 2010The best new cafes in Toronto deserve a salute. While the coffee house scene has been gaining momentum over the last few years, 2010 was undeniably a break-out 12 months that in any other context might be characterized as irrational exuberance. If the packed tables and steady line-ups are any indication, Toronto's bean-obsessed entrepreneurs have not only hit upon an untapped demand for non-Starbucks and Tim Hortons offerings, they're also helping educate and refine local palates, not to mention provide a much needed gathering space for a growing legion of freelancers and work at home types.

If 2009 was the year that every downtown neighbourhood welcomed one indie coffee shop, 2010 saw the arrival of two, three or more. Stalwarts like Crema, LIT, Sam James, Red Rocket, Grinder and Te Aro opened second (or third) locations and well trained baristas seized opportunities to branch out on their own. No doubt there were many worthy candidates who missed the cut on the list below - all would have been shoe-ins in year's past.

Here are the 12 best cafes that opened in Toronto during 2010.

See also:

The Best New Cafes in Toronto 2009
The Best New Cafes in Toronto 2008

Crafted by Te Aro

Crafted by Te Aro

While the Ossington moratorium was in full effect, Leslieville's top micro-roaster suddenly surfaced in Get Real's former home. Like its bigger sister, Crafted features the excellent coffee drinks and barista artistry that has made Te Aro such a success. When weather permits, the space becomes twice as nice with a secluded back patio. More »

Capital Espresso

Capital Espresso

After finally breaking away from Blondie's, the owners of Capital Espresso instantly packed their tables in the old Vice Magazine office with Parkdale locals seeking free WiFi, freshly baked muffins, cookies and other in-house baked treats. Oh, the coffee is excellent too, made from beans sourced from an artisan roastery on Granville Island. More »

Good Neighbour

Good Neighbour

Opening a block away from Crema might not seem like a smart business decision on paper but this Junction-area cafe has done nothing but serve a steady stream of customers since its arrival on Annette. The comfy, sun-drenched space is a welcoming gathering space and the line-up of caffeine-infused drinks aren't too shabby either. More »

Sense Appeal

Sense Appeal

Before opening this Spadina/Adelaide coffee shop, the team behind Sense Appeal earned their stripes roasting coffee for a number of 5-star hotels. Now, they're pulling shots and crafting macchiatos at a pace that's winning over the most ardent espresso heads. Flavoured lattes (made with natural reductions, purees and caramel) change with the season. More »

Red Rocket Coffee (Wellesley)

Red Rocket Coffee (Wellesley)

This Leslieville stalwart has caught lightning in a bottle twice with an almost equally remote location near Jarvis and Wellesley. While this second cafe is smaller than the original, it has a more contemporary feel, the same excellent London Fogs and other creative drinks like the Cubano and Miami Vice. Show them a Christopher Walken head and get half priced coffee. More »

Tampered Press

Tampered Press

The Tampered Press can get forgotten in the saturated coffee house landscape that is this section of Dundas West, but it's one of the best options in the area to settle in for some free WiFi with a large communal table, chilled atmosphere and expertly crafted drinks. More »

Coffee Pocket

Coffee Pocket

Sam James has done it again with his second outpost just steps from Christie subway station. Like his Harbord original, seating is at a premium (there isn't any) making this a strictly take-out affair. But who can complain when one of the best cappuccinos in the city can be had for less than 3 bucks. More »

Snakes and Lattes

Snakes and Lattes

This bustling Koreatown spot might have been the most social place to open in Toronto during the past year. With a seemingly endless supply of board games (1,500 and counting), plenty of snacks and opening hours that extend to midnight, the only question is will it be too busy to score a table? More »

The Abbott

The Abbott

The owners of the Lakeview Restaurant clearly needed a new challenge and they've found one by opening this isolated cafe on a side street in Lower Parkdale. Named after the first Canadian-born black doctor, The Abbott continues the medical theme with well placed beakers and microscopes. We're just not sure why their cappuccinos are served in skinny glass steins. More »

Thor Espresso Bar

Thor Espresso Bar

This Scandinavian-inspired cafe knows how to impress with their much buzzed about $16,000 Slayer machine - one of only 77 in the world. They back it up with expertly crafted lattes and their recently introduced “hit n run” - a combo that includes a house espresso to stay plus an americano to go. More »

Hula Girl

Hula Girl

With limited seating, Hula Girl needs to try extra hard to lure customers to this isolated stretch of Dundas West. But for those who venture in, they're rewarded with some excellent house blends, each containing a precisely measured amount of Kona coffee. The owners have also done a super job at renovating the space. More »

Discussion

44 Comments

PeterG / January 3, 2011 at 10:41 am
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I'm a local, and until recently a great fan of The Good Neighbour. That is, until I was there they other day and the bearded/requisite plaid shirt/skinny patched jeans guy served my coffee with a MASSIVE helping of sarcasm, bordering on an insult. The hipster uniform doesn't entitle barristas to sneer at or otherwise insult patrons. I'll go to Crema from now on.
Lauren Glass / January 3, 2011 at 11:01 am
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Again you've completely ignored the East End. Leaving out Prana Coffee is criminal. The coffee, staff and vibe there are amazing. Try crossing the Don once in a while. The air is oxygenated this side of town too, I assure you.
Lisa / January 3, 2011 at 11:30 am
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I'm a HUGE fan of the Hub Coffee House and Locavorium at Shaw and Yarmouth. Extremely friendly & down to earth service. Where else can you get bacon (nitrate free) from the Amish? All ingredients (save the coffee) are from within a 100 mile radius.
Jocelyn / January 3, 2011 at 11:57 am
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Wow, such a shocker that all the kingpins in the ridiculously stacked indie coffee scene made it onto the list with their new cafes.
Seriously this gets old, real fast.
Another tiny take out only from Sam James? Shoe in!

I applaud adding Snakes and Lattes, and Tampered Press, but I'm sorry, opening near Crema and surviving shouldn't automatically grant you into the top list.
What about Cafe Novo? Little Nicky's? Two solid businesses trying to muscle into the scene currently run by the old boys club.
Jake / January 3, 2011 at 12:01 pm
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Glad to see Snakes and Lattes on the list! It should serve as an example of the meeting spots this city lacks!
Neville Park / January 3, 2011 at 12:41 pm
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<em>also helping educate and refine local palettes</em>

"Palate" is a person's taste for food and drink. "Palette" is a tray to mix paint on. "Pallet" is a flat wooden thing used in shipping. And "Pallett" is that guy who plays violin.

Pardon my crankiness. Haven't had my coffee yet. :P
McKingford / January 3, 2011 at 12:48 pm
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I second the call for Cafe Novo.
Baxter / January 3, 2011 at 01:23 pm
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Second the motion about crossing the Don once in a while, how about The Grinder just east of Pape and Gerrard. It's adjacent to a Tim Hortons and Soon to be Starbucks at Jones and Gerrard, and it's doing fantastic. I'm just happy to see the scourge that is Coffee Time finally losing a stranglehold on the East End.
Kent / January 3, 2011 at 01:35 pm
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Snakes and Lattes is a giant fail.
Kent / January 3, 2011 at 01:35 pm
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Also, Lit on College is amazing. Also, c'mon now.
Gloria / January 3, 2011 at 01:49 pm
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Every time ... bitching about the east end (and a 23-year east ender over here). At least two of the new cafes are just satellites of original East locations. That's awesome! Spread the east disease! (Yes, joke.)

Come on. Nobody cares. Isn't this a poll? Get your vote out.
Jessica / January 3, 2011 at 01:52 pm
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@Kent-- I disagree with you. Snakes and Lattes has sometimes a wait line of 2 hours. Definitely the opposite of a "giant fail"
anonymous / January 3, 2011 at 05:31 pm
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As someone who works in coffee (aka someone with no part in this kind of servile customer-level interaction) let me just say that all your bickering, and certainly this write-up, is great for the industry. Thanks to everyone and please keep getting pissed off, excited, and vocal about such absurdly quotidian nonsense. Everyone's voice is a part of the magical rainbow choir and you're all playing my favourite new age anthem. Thank you!
anonymous / January 3, 2011 at 05:31 pm
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Ahem, the choir is 'singing,' not 'playing' the anthem. Wow is that ever embarrassing when I was trying to look fancy!
Skinny Man / January 3, 2011 at 06:03 pm
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Where is Jimmies?
ron / January 3, 2011 at 08:10 pm
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what is the crafted twitter - is it @tearoroasted ??
K / January 3, 2011 at 11:16 pm
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Remember people, this list was voted by the readers (amirite?)
So if you've got your panties in a twist over this list - just remember that you could have voted (and added your fav to the list).
Harry / January 4, 2011 at 01:30 am
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Is there one cafe in Toronto that serves decaf coffee that actually tastes like great coffee? So far, filter brewed by the cup at Starbucks (of all places) is the only one that has some ok tasting decaf coffee. Apparently, Dunkin Donuts, has the best tasting decaf found in coffee shops in the USA (according to professional tasters hired by Consumer Reports magazine.) Anyone else here - prohibited from drinking regular coffee - found the cafe with excellent decaf?
Harry / January 4, 2011 at 01:42 am
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Forgot to mention that many Toronto cafes, specializing in coffee, don't serve decaf and almost seem proud of that fact (when one asks for decaf.) Moonbean in Kensington is a good example of the latter.
Bruce / January 4, 2011 at 09:47 am
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I highly doubt this list was created by reader votes alone. And if it was, I cry foul! Thor is a brand new coffee joint that gets very little business, serving very average coffee. Not only is the coffee boring but the seating is very uncomfortable and mostly unwelcoming. I won't bother listing the million other great places because, heck, the readers voted! Anybody want to discuss this I can meet you for a coffee at Jimmies or The White Squirrel or Manic, or even Ideal on Ossington if you prefer!
marco / January 4, 2011 at 01:41 pm
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hey Bruce, agenda much?

all the cafes you mention are not new - this list covers 2010 openings only, which I guess you missed? this is a good list overall I agree with all with exception of 2 cafes which I will not name which actually serve average coffee.

Regarding the coffee, I personally think the blend served at Thor is great and as a resident of King West I am glad someone has opened a cool cafe outside the normal hipster hoods. Also to note is that the service at Thor is friendlier than at all the cafes you mention, that is also probably why people voted for them. Thankfully they serve coffee without the hipster 'tude I get everywhere else.

with all the condos opening in my area over the next few years I have no doubt that Thor will be popular for years to come.

this list proves that Toronto has a great selection of coffee places and we have a wide choice of places to support without slinging mud.
Bruce / January 4, 2011 at 03:07 pm
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No agenda here except that I am one of those condo dwellers you speak of and I am so disappointed that such a great opportunity was spoiled by such poor execution and blah java. That's all I am saying. Yes they are friendly but who cares? I want more than that. I didn't mean to imply that the other institutions were new this year, just that they blow Thor away and it bugs me! (No I do not work for all of those other places)
Cindy replying to a comment from Bruce / January 4, 2011 at 04:42 pm
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I agree about the lack of comfort at Thor. I feel like I am sitting on the floor beside an icy cold window in there. Nothing cozy about this place. If I had to guess I would say that they really weren't going for a place with super cozy seating because it is obviously not trying to be that. The coffee is OK - better than Second Cup at King St anyway.
Vivy / January 4, 2011 at 05:44 pm
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I'm also a huge fan of the Hub Coffee House and Locavorium at Shaw and Yarmouth. THE HUB!!!! I voted for them but I guess they didnt made the cut?
Jocelyn replying to a comment from Harry / January 4, 2011 at 08:52 pm
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I don't know about any of the ones that made the list, but Cafe Novo brews single cup french press decaf coffee - it's fantastic.
Anywhere that bitches out of decaf is robbing a seriously coffee loving customer base, those who drink decaf aren't doing it for their daily fix. I've never understood the snobbery at places that refuse to serve it.
Rosemary Barran / January 4, 2011 at 09:19 pm
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There is a new cafe opened on Danforth (near Woodbine) called Cake Town Cafe. The address is 2039 Danforth Avenue. This is a delightful place, clean, cozy and warm with delicious coffees, teas, scones, brownies, sandwiches (their paninis are to die for) - delicious, soups - all lovingly prepared and served by owner, Nadya Harris. Impeccable, warm and inviting - I hope that everyone will drop in and experience this new addition to the Danforth area. My favourite place on the Danforth.
John / January 4, 2011 at 09:54 pm
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Not a single mention of the quality of the product.

If I go to a cafe I need to know they can make:
* espresso
* americano
* drip coffee

And that the results are good. Only after the quality and economy (to a lesser extent) of the drink would I venture to evaluate the other dimensions of a coffee shop.

I don't like this list solely because it refuses to compare coffee shops on what matters most: COFFEE!
Sterling / January 4, 2011 at 10:06 pm
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Well I figure this topic has become just a review and reminder of great places to get coffee in Toronto. So I'm just gonna throw a shout out to Jet Fuel on Parliament, I guarantee it's the strongest espresso you've ever had. While by no means a new Cafe, I just thought it deserves a mention due to the shear quality of the product and the low prices.
Tiffany / January 4, 2011 at 11:41 pm
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I love snakes and lattes. I do. But the coffee kinda sucks.
Harry replying to a comment from Jocelyn / January 5, 2011 at 02:25 am
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Not carrying or running out of decaf coffee is just the tip of the iceberg; the majority of Toronto's restaurants and cafes owners or managers are clueless when it comes to the business skill sets required to run a successful restaurant or cafe. There are series of comfort issues to look after: lighting issues, sound issues, decor issues, temperature issues, seating issues, sever people skills, ventilation issues, washroom issues, safety issues (mainly killer stairways going to basement) + (dirty kitchens) + (poor handling of food.)

Let's just look at the sound issue for a moment. I am referring to music and/or musak. When did god ever come down to earth and proclaim that all restaurants/cafes must have loud music or musak? First of all customers have different music tastes; no kind of music will please everyone. Second of all, 9 times out of ten the music will be WAY TOO LOUD. If you cannot talk to another person across the table from you - THE MUSIC IS TOO LOUD! Most owners, managers, staff act (react poorly) when a customer asks for the music to be turned down.



Caitlin Pask replying to a comment from Harry / January 5, 2011 at 04:11 pm
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Harry - Come try the decaf americanos at The Tampered Press - I chose it based on my Moms groups that frequent the shop and have had an excellent response. I'd love your opinion of it!
mmm / January 6, 2011 at 08:28 am
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The people have spoken. Congrats everyone!
GN / January 6, 2011 at 12:26 pm
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I've been to the good neighbour on more than one occasion and have also found the staff annoyingly rude, stupid and completely in awe of themselves. You work at a coffee shop, get a grip. Management needs to ease up on trying to get customers to vote and pay more attention to their horrible staff.
GN / January 6, 2011 at 12:28 pm
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just to clarify: the tiny blonde chick at good neighbour has been nothing short of horrible every time and seems to take 5 mins to comprehend a question that doesn't involve a coffee order.
corey / January 15, 2011 at 01:10 am
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well ya can't forget the rocket fuel cafe on the lakeshore !!! they do all that and more !! good bagels too !!!
eury / January 16, 2011 at 08:57 am
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I am a fan of BellJar cafe on Dundas West - I think it opened in 2010? Would have liked to see it on the list as I prefer the espresso there to Hula Girl and it is far more inviting an atmosphere. And they have a frequent flyer program!
COSPLAY / September 26, 2012 at 10:06 pm
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Well I figure this topic has become just a review and reminder of great places to get coffee in Toronto. So I'm just gonna throw a shout out to Jet Fuel on Parliament, I guarantee it's the strongest espresso you've ever had. While by no means a new Cafe, I just thought it deserves a mention due to the shear quality of the product and the low prices.
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I do Like some cafes I am not sure if my favorite person Emily Brown likes it
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