Annex Espresso Bar
Annex Espresso Bar is a place that focuses on a traditional strong Italian espresso in the Annex.
Owner Franceso Maione worked at Sud Forno since he was 15 years old before finally deciding it was time to open his own cafe.
Realizing he loved hospitality and making coffee more than his degree, it wasn't long after graduation that he decided to take a risk.
Located just steps from the former Honest Ed's, most customers are people from the co-working space next door or students.
The space is bright and open with warm walnut details and exposed brick walls.
Maione explains his coffee is a traditional non-bitter espresso.
"When done right, you don't need sugar," he explains. He uses Trucillo Gran Bar beans, known for their chocolate, toasted almond, and hazelnut flavours.
Staying true to his heritage, most of the drinks on the menu are Italian.
There are Refreshers ($4.25) in four flavours using Fabbri syrups: Strawberry, Lemon, Mango, and Almond. Maione had them in Italy and wanted to bring them here because he noticed it wasn't commonly found.
These are perfectly named, refreshing and the perfect summer drink.
A special menu item is the Café Leccese ($3.95), an homage to his mother's Puglian roots. It's a mix of espresso and a sweet almond orzata syrup that reminds me of sticky summers by the sea.
Interestingly, all drinks can be infused with Rainbo Boost Adaptogen- a product Maione personally uses in his daily routine.
There's an Iced Strawberry Matcha ($5.50) that is equally sweet and bitter.
Baked goods are from La Bastille, the Raspberry Almond Tart ($5.25) and the Beignets ($4.95) with generous fillings have been hits with customers.
The Hazelnut Cruffin ($4.25) is especially a layered delight both on the eyes and stomach.
In the back, there's seating and a shop stocked with Canadian brands and businesses Maione wants to champion.
It features products like Zing sauces, Tonica Kombucha, and Comeback Snacks popcorn - which Maione tells me is his favourite.
There are exciting plans for the summer like a backyard patio and a crema machine.
Maione tells me he simply "loves coffee and making people feel welcomed" and hopes his dreams of community can come true in this space.
Annex Espresso Bar is located at 718 Bathurst St., closed Mondays.