Black Goat Cafe
Black Goat Cafe can be found a short walk west of the Humber College Lakeshore campus in Etobicoke . Named as a reference to the popular legend of the animal that first discovered coffee shrubs, this small shop offers some seating in the form of a few seats at the window counter and a corner booth, plus a community board and a book exchange by the entrance.
The owner also runs Buster's Fish House further down the street; she took over this cafe from its previous proprietor, who had been asking her for advice on how to run the place. She quickly had to learn the ins and outs and outs of coffee and baking, but luckily she already had a handle on how to run a business.
Coffee here comes in four sizes (S-XL) and is made with fair trade, organic beans ($10 for Â˝lb bag, $18 for 1lb) custom-roasted by a local (unnamed) private roaster.
Espresso-based drinks (espresso/Americano, $2.50-$4; macchiato, $3-$4.50; cappuccino/latte, $4-$5.50) and brewed coffee ($1.75-$2.50) are medium-to-dark roasts and drip origins are rotated regularly.
Specialty drinks like Vietnamese cafe sua da ($4.50) and Hong Kong milk tea ($3.50) are also on offer. The owner, who was born in Thailand but is of Vietnamese and Laotian descent, tells me she likes strongly caffeinated beverages, and these are some of her favourites.
I try a Dark Knight ($4.50), which is a double shot of espresso mixed with hot chocolate (essentially, a mocha) and topped with whipped cream. When presented to me, it's so full it's overflowing like a caffeinated chocolate-y volcano.
None of the eats available here are outsourced, so all the treats are baked in house, from cookies ($1.50 each), muffins ($2) and squares ($2.75) to scones ($2) and croissants ($2).
Salads and sandwiches are also made on the premises, although the bread comes from a local Portuguese bakery.
There are tuna and veggie options, but the standout sammy for us is the pulled pork ($5), made from slow-cooked pork butt in a homemade barbecue sauce. Served with purple cabbage slaw and pork rinds on a puffy mafra bun, it's juicy, crunchy, tender and tasty, making for a satisfying lunch.
The owner wisely aims to cater towards students on a budget (none of the menu items are priced over $6); she wants to keep everything affordable, but delicious too. Judging by the steady stream of people who come by for a coffee or lunch (or both) during our visit, and the fact that many already appear to be regulars, she's got a good thing going here.
Photos by Hector Vasquez.