Carbonic Coffee is no stranger to Baldwin Village as the cafe has been open since 2019.
However, just one year into opening, the start of the pandemic put a stop to all traffic and owner Donna Huang seriously considered closing up shop.
"My landlord was not going to give us any rent relief and at the beginning we didn't know what kind of funding the government would provide," Huang explains.
That's when Nigel Wang of 135 Ossington offered to pay the rent in exchange for Huang's roasted coffee beans for all his shops.
Huang is also no stranger to the Toronto coffee scene - she's the head roaster at Hale Coffee and co-owner of The Angry Roaster coffee which won best new roaster of the year in 2022.
"I always wanted to open my own specialty coffee shop. I know coffee but I started without knowing anything about business. The interior design and Instagram, that's all Nigel," says Huang.
They took advantage of the closures to re-design the space, adding more seating and curved wall designs that give it a Scandinavian vibe.
Though the true descriptor would be closer to Japandi - as seen in the small stone path under the seats and its clean wood detailing.
Now that there are in-person classes, most of the regulars are students from nearby University of Toronto and OCADU, as well as surrounding hospital employees.
There's a special menu item where you can order any drink with any add-ins paired with any Delysées croissant for just $10- an offer Huang created for student budgets.
The most popular drink is the seasonal Iced Strawberry Matcha Latte ($5.75). Made with cold-pressed strawberry guava juice, it's super fresh. Huang tells us it was their best-seller last year and customers were asking for it again beginning in February.
No doubt because of Huang's expertise, many of her customers are coffee-lovers. Regular Liam McGarry tells us "I get my beans here they switch it up every time, I come one to two times a week. They sell refills and coffee equipment like V60's here too."
They sell beans from famous guest roasters around the world - which often sell out quickly. In fact, this month's special Gardelli beans have completely sold out.
Huang wants to keep the space casual and friendly, you won't find "fancy food" here. They have Delysées croissants ($5.75), and cookies ($3.75) and danishes they bake every morning.
The Kouign-amann ($5.75) is a swirly delight.
Weekends are their busiest, with a lot of foot traffic coming off the busy street.
There's also a recently launched bottle shop, curated by Huang. She finds that "coffee and wine are similar- they both are fruits that come from the earth and you can taste different notes."
Staying true to their community, Huang wants the options to be accessible, keeping the selection mostly within $5-40.
They like to encourage a no laptop policy in the front seating area of the cafe so that people can engage in conversation with their friends and enjoy the light and decor.
Huang hopes to expand the night program and is planning to extend evening hours to 8 p.m. starting from next week and up to 9 p.m. in May.
Carbonic Coffee is located at 37 Baldwin St. Open 7 days a week.