Oscar Coffee & Espresso Bar
Oscar Coffee & Espresso Bar occupies a nice corner spot at Queen East and Beech Ave deep into the Beaches neighbourhood. Transformed from the previous Best Coffee House by owners the Youns, they have brought a lovely modern refinement to the place. Walls are white washed, the ceiling the deepest grey which matches the gunmetal chairs and stools (except for the four comfy chairs - done in a patterned rust and a cute addition in the back). Sit at one of the stools in the window for a perfect view of the active street.
The many polished wood tables (both communal and individual) provide plenty of seating, and with a couple of plugs and free WiFi it's a great place to work. Music is kept to a jazzy minimum; when I arrive it's Ella Fitzgerald who quietly fills the room. Nothing distracts, is superfluous or flash- food and drink served in plain white mugs and plates, decor details striped back to one simple painting and two plants, one of which is an orchid, probably the most exotic thing in the room.
Even the list of coffee offerings is short and sweet - brewed coffee ($1.80- 2.14), espresso (single $1.80, double $2.50), Americanos, cappuccinos, lattes ($3.25- 4.00) and mochas. Using the La Pavoli machine the owner made me up an Americano, and while not the most masterful Americano I've ever had, was for all intents and purposes a good one, and for which happily returned for another. Non-coffee drinkers can have chai or green tea lattes, apple cider, hot chocolate, or take from the fridge a soda or juice.
The sweets and baked goods, a well-curated selection, range from fruit and cheese Danishes, oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies, to apple strudel, pecan and pumpkin pie. I had the banana chocolate bread ($3.75) and it was great - moist, flecked with banana and layered with gooey milk chocolate.
They carry Monin coffee syrups should you want the taste of strawberry in your coffee. It isn't a criticism of Oscar for carrying them (surely they continue to please someone) but I don't understand the continued popularity of flavouring syrups for coffee.
When I first started working in a coffee shop they were all the rage, they seemed super sophisticated, but then I also drank bucket loads of chemically-tasting Irish Cream, was 12 years old and it was 1989. I get it, they make bad coffee taste like something else but with good coffee, like that at Oscar, why bother?
Photos by Jesse Milns