Antikka is a vinyl shop that offers the rare opportunity of perusing through hundreds of records while sipping on some traditional Armenian coffee at the same time.
Drawing its name from a word used in Armenia to describe anything old and odd, The West Queen West shop and cafe is the brainchild of Raz Tchakmak, a Toronto native hoping to combine his love of music with his Armenian heritage.
The result of that mashup is a vinyl emporium with a rock den vibe that serves very good coffee.
The main attraction of this cafe is its 15-foot long shelving rack made of old barn wood that holds 1,200 used and new records at any given time, with twice that number in the basement. They’ve got plenty of Bob Dylan and Diana Ross, but hip hop lovers can get their fix too.
While Antikka specializes mostly in hard rock, country, and soul, their in-house vinyl expert Nathan Lemay can help you order any record you’re looking for, regardless of genre.
Records here usually cost between $10 and $30 depending on if they’re used, which is pretty standard for specialty vinyl stores.
You can pass a good amount of time sifting through records here, and the upside of finding a good preloved album is getting to test it out on the record player sitting on the bar.
The second best part of this store (or first, depending on your priorities) is ordering a cup of Armenian coffee ($3.50) and watching how it’s brewed.
It’s a mesmerizing process: hot water and ground coffee are placed in a jazzve – a small Armenian coffee pot with a long handle – and heated on a bed of hot sand instead of an element until the grinds dissolve.
Watching the coffee froth is so entertaining, it almost trumps the act of drinking it. But the coffee it produces is strong and delicious.
Antikka imports its super dark, super fine ground beans from Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, and the ceramic cups they serve it in are made by a co-op of Armenian women, so you feel like you’re supporting a good cause even if you’re really just getting your coffee fix.
For more conventional cafe beverages, Antikka also serves iced drinks and an assortment of lattes from regular ($4.75) to matcha ($4.75) to turmeric gold lattes ($4.50), for when you start to feel a cold creep in.
As for baked goods, The Red Bench provides Antikka with products like a perfectly sweet s’more cookie ($2.50), a brownie cookie ($2.50) and a really tasty gluten-free raspberry white chocolate scone ($4.50).
Though this place gives off the impression of being a hands-on, analog-only kind of store, Antikka offers WiFi and an interior lined with tables and seating to do some work, though potent coffee and loud music might make it hard to sit still.