Tea Dot Coffee
Tea Dot Coffee, a new indie coffee shop on College Street just past Spadina, is the latest place for a coffee fuel-up on near the University of Toronto. Having just opened the cafe, owner Omar Soliman is still ironing out the kinks (there are no real baked goods yet- soon I'm told), but he's certainly done well with his hiring. Baristas were cheerful and enthusiastic, and pull a great Americano using Classic Gourmet beans from the La Marzocco machine.
Rich and creamy, a single shot is 1.50$, a double $2.75, while lattes and cappuccinos are $3.25 each. Or go for their selection of Tealish teas. I was glad to see they had included affogato up on painting menu list, beside the hand-drawn outlines of picture frames. There is something really pleasurable about that Italian treat, looking down into your cup to find a scoop of vanilla ice cream drowning in hot espresso.
Coffee isn't the only thing you can get. There is a full kitchen that supplies a small fridge with boxed sandwiches and vegetarian salads. These are classic packed lunch style sandwiches-enriched white bread, mayo, ballpark mustard, deli meat, iceberg lettuce, beefsteak tomato, slice of cheese-with a couple of dill pickles on the side.
The day I stopped by it was Roast Beef and Havarti. For vegetarians there is a generously portioned salad option- romaine, croutons, and creamy dressing. Either would make a decent lunch, and at $4.75 each, easy on the wallet. There's also cookies and other baked treats.
Coming from the east you can spot it by the giant bright graffiti mural on the side of the building, done by artist Jimmy Chiali. Inside Chiali has done another big bright piece just above the cream and sugar station. Otherwise the room is a saturated orange-y red, wide and open with wood flooring, with photos of blurred lights in Ikea frames, and a tall plywood counter, emitting a sort of timeless college vibe, as easily existing twenty years ago as now, perfect for the myriad of students looking to grab a coffee and head to class.
One difference from the old coffee houses of the 90's, when 'Friends' dug in and never left, is now businesses avoid a lingering crowd. "Keep 'em moving" is not just the Toronto restaurant mantra, but seems to be the new modus operandi in Toronto's coffee shop scene as well, and with little seating besides two stools and a small booth in the front window, Tea Dot Coffee is no exception.
Buy your coffee here, but have your study group or meeting somewhere else. Still, the room is outfitted with plenty of electrical sockets, and with proposed WiFi, I'm thinking they plan for more than just a caffeine charge. The traditional pairing of study and coffee is one Tea Dot Coffee is well to heed.
Photos by Jimmy Lu