Cafe Olya opened up this past month as the latest addition to the Parliament strip of Cabbagetown . Located just south of Wellesley, you might run the risk of missing it, save for a small sandwich board out front offering "Strong Coffee & Delicate Pastries". This cozy (read: tiny) spot is hoping to provide delicious fresh baked pastries daily (hence, dubbing themselves a "micro-bakery") to pair with coffee offerings from Brooklyn roastery Café Grumpy -yes, that Cafe Grumpy of recent HBO's Girls fame.
Owners Mike Tasso and Olyana Zhuke opened the first manifestation of Cafe Olya in Newmarket in 2011, making a name for themselves as the purveyors of coffee for those looking for a break from the local Tim Hortons. Needless to say, it's not easy to pick up foot-traffic for gourmet coffee in the suburbs of Toronto, so when the opportunity to open a brick and mortar in Cabbagetown came about, they jumped at it.
Sourcing local, seasonal ingredients from nearby Riverdale Farm and Evergreen Brick Works , the baked goods definitely take precedence over the coffee options here. Tasso obviously has a basic understanding of how to work with his espresso machine, though aficionados looking for a well-balanced espresso shot might be better served hitting up Jet Fuel across the street.
That being said, coffee lovers are sure to enjoy reaping the benefits of Tasso's experimental nature, as he plans to bring in a variety of beans from different roasters, to be rotated every 3-4 weeks for drip coffee. Using a classic "bee house" pour-over method (running $3 a cup), Olya will be offering a range of single origin beans from Grumpy's roastery as well as experimenting with offerings from Handsome, 49th Parallel and Dark City . Check out the website or follow them on twitter ( @CafeOlya ) to find out what's brewing each week.
Pop into Cafe Olya for a quick coffee but stay for the pastries-the undeniable stars of the show. Zhuke cooks up exciting, seasonal, locally sourced treats that are as salivating to look at as they are to taste. On my recent trip in I was lucky enough to catch the tail end of a batch of Blackberry-White Chocolate-Ricotta tarts that were sinfully good. Rich, sweet and fresh, Zhuke undoubtedly has a taste for the indulgent, and we'll all be lucky to indulge every season. Look forward to rhubarb and strawberries this Spring, finding their way into scones, muffins, decadent tarts and similar confections. For those with dietary restrictions, Zhuke assures that gluten free and vegan options will be available as often as possible.
It seems as though Cafe Olya will fit in well in the cozy neighborhood, making a perfect stop for a sweet treat on a Sunday afternoon or a quick coffee run on a rushed Thursday morning. Hopefully, with time, and the addition of some experienced baristas, the espresso offerings will catch up to the pastries, but until then, I'm happy to pop in any time for a sugar fix.
Café Olya is open Tuesday to Friday from 7:30am to 5:30pm and Saturday and Sunday from 8am to 5pm.
Photos by Christian Bobak