Redline Coffee and Espresso

Redline Coffee and Espresso Bar

Redline Coffee and Espresso at the corner of Queen and Parliament in Toronto's east end is a breath of fresh air for this part of Corktown , but still needs a bit of work before it has Toronto's espresso heads lining up for shots daily.

Previously a Savoury Grounds , Redline is now owned by Julie Van Der Lugt who took over the space earlier this year and has kept much of the same geometry, but injected a healthy dose of colour, has plenty of art by local artists on the walls and has built up the shop using completely second-hand materials.

Redline Coffee and Espresso Bar

To Van Der Lugt, locality is important and she makes all of her second-hand purchases in the neighbourhood. The coffee is roasted locally, and Circles and Squares , a popular bakery among indie cafes in Toronto is where she sources her food.

Currently, Van Der Lugt is working with a Toronto-based chef to create a sandwich menu to add some more food to the shop's offerings.

Redline Coffee and Espresso Bar

The name Redline comes from the constant stream of streetcars going by the shop during the day, and I happen to think this is one of the coolest and most uniquely-Toronto names I've seen for a cafe.

Upon walking into the space, the art on the walls is the first thing to catch my eye. Large canvases of brightly-coloured paintings line the wall to the back of the store and out to the patio. On the counter are brew systems, a small food stand and an old Italian espresso machine.

Redline Coffee and Espresso Bar

The first thing I ordered was a single shot of espresso which came out way too hot and was slightly sour. Despite the way it tasted, the shot did have a nice head of crema, with a decent amount of tiger striping, which is why I dove into tasting this shot so hastily in the first place.

Next, I ordered a cappuccino, which was slightly better, but still not great. Served in a whopping 12 oz. cup, my cappuccino tasted as though the shot used was pulled too long, and gave the giant cappuccino a slightly watery taste. Also, the 12 oz. cup, which is almost 1/3 larger (or more) than the size I'm used to, made it hard to evaluate this drink as a cappuccino, as the way it was prepared made it taste like more of a latte.

Redline Coffee and Espresso Bar

The best part of this cafe is the space. High ceilings, deep red paint on the walls, carefully-chosen second-hand furniture, and a patio out back make this place a destination for those looking to get cozy and cuddle up with a newspaper in an unmistakeably independent space.

Redline Coffee and Espresso Bar

A back patio in any cafe has a special spot in my heart- especially those in busy areas of the city. It's so nice to be able to sit outside, away from noisy and invasive traffic and just enjoy a coffee.

For Van Der Lugt, creating a neighbourhood destination with the environment in mind is a prime directive, and Redline espresso and coffee bar is well on its way to becoming that space. But the espresso system needs to be improved before it can service a coffee crowd.

Already, Redline has hosted a number of events for groups in the neighbourhood. So far there has been a VQA wine tasting, private parties and an independent film screening.

My overall impressions: A cool space with a local focus, and a taste for second-hand design. Go for the atmosphere and friendly owner, but don't expect much in terms of coffee.

Redline Espresso and Coffee bar is open Mon-Fri 7a.m.- 5p.m. and 8 a.m.-

4p.m. on the weekends.

Redline Coffee and Espresso Bar

Photos by Dennis Marciniak

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