Zavida Coffee occupies a large space on the ground floor of Aura, the city's tallest condo. The first location in Toronto, it's Second Cup 2.0 with a menu that's full-of-itself, indulgent and smug like a first-year student travelling abroad with his/her parent's money.
With its proximity to Yonge and Gerrard and the suffocating chaos of Y&D tourists, nu-bros, yuccies and anxious-looking Ryerson students scouring the streets for a safe space to complain about group projects, you can rest assured this will be a busy place.
The roasters behind Zavida are a Canadian family business, boasting 35 years of (combined) experience. This is underscored by shelves of signature collection coffee, single origins from Brazil, Columbia, Costa Rica and Sumatra. There's also premium flavours like Hazelnut Vanilla, CrĂ¨me Brulee and propriety blends of beans in Charlie's Private Stock. Like I said, Second Cup, but fancy.
Around the corner from the anarchy of downtown shoppers and Yonge Street turtle walkers, Zavida is a sanctuary for those looking for a coffee refill, tasty sandwich and a guaranteed sugar high. Customers go crazy for the Belgian drinks like Belgian Hot Chocolate ($3.65), and the White Belgian Mocha ($4.15). It's like a candy store for over-caffeinated grown-ups, with swanky Belgian chocolate.
I order the Belgian Mocha. One sip in, I was hooked on it like a toddler with an outgrown soother. Made with organic milk and melted Belgian chocolate, a rosy warmth slid down my throat like a thick custard waterfall. Frank Ocean's "Crack Rock" anthem came to mind.
Fearing the pounding headache ahead of me, I cautiously sipped waiting for a sugar rush to take me to the promised land. Fortunately, if you need to get some work done, there's plenty of power sockets and desk space; a luxury in the Ryerson district.
There's also sweet treats for late night exam cramming. Soft and crumbly stuff like deluxe cookies ($2.45), pecan tarts ($3.75), and S'mores bars ($2.75).
Those starving of hunger between classes can feast from morning to afternoon with breakfast sandwiches, pastries and lunch items.
The Artisan Quiche ($5.95), the Sundried Tomato Basil Turkey Sandwich ($7.95) and House-Made Chicken Soup ($3.95) are more substantial for those in need of a full meal.
If you don't cook at home, you'll love it here if you're tired of eating Tim Horton's bagels or over-spending on super-sized Peppermint Mocha Frappuccinos at Starbucks.
Say hello to Ryerson's next group project cafe: superficially cozy, full of Belgian chocolate coffee with a plentiful seating area for 15-person study sessions.
Photos by Hector Vasquez.