Grocery Coffee might be one of Toronto’s most eccentric and microscopic coffee and sandwich shops.
Despite the name, they don’t actually sell groceries, but they like the associations with being essential to the neighbourhood the word conjures up, also operating as a fringe art exhibition space and music venue.
The space is extremely shallow, with woodwork by one of the owners throughout including a steep heated bench. Photos by Chantal Ryanne were being exhibited for Contact during my visit, and house plants are in abundance.
Vinyl is also always spinning in here, speakers under the bench and counter.
A back space where live music occasionally takes place expands on the photo exhibit, and apparently there’s also ping pong in here on Sundays.
A roast beef sandwich ($7) is nothing too fancy, but isn’t a vacuum-packed gas station sandwich or gross fast food option.
Roast beef, Moroccan salt, lime, arugula, tomato, cucumber, a bit of roasted pine nut hummus and aged cheddar go on crusty but soft thickly sliced white bread. Be sure to ask for some pickles made locally by a friend (I tried the hot and they were tangy and spicy).
The rest of the menu consists pretty much entirely of simple toasts ($3.75) with toppings such as avocado, nutella, jam from Kitten and the Bear a few doors down or aged cheddar and tomatoes.
An iced Americano ($3.75) is served with a massive coffee ice cube. There was a bit of ice in the bottom at the end so I wasn’t sure whether that was redundant, but perhaps one giant ice cube on its own can’t stand up to hot coffee. Either way, acidic, frosty and eye-opening.
A coffee ice cream float ($6.50) tops drip with store-bought vanilla, and though simply topped off with chocolate syrup it brings together two amazing things in a frothy summer drink.
A cup of the plain vanilla on its own will run you $3.
Beans come from Propeller, their Turbo used for espresso drinks like lattes ($4) and Americanos ($3.25).
They prefer the Burundi for their drip (starting at $2.50) and also offer bags of Propeller and Alternative Grounds beans, as well as Pluck teas.
This artsy little shop is more of a place to grab a fast coffee and snack than post up with a laptop, but fortunately the Propeller coffee is strong enough to rely on this alone. Ambience provided by the vinyl and the secret hangout spot in the back are a great bonus.