Indie Coffee Passport: Toronto 2016 Ed.

by Lisa Sit

If I had to describe Toronto’s foodie street scene in a few words, it’d be: patios, coffee and long lines for ice cream. I dabble in the hour-long ice cream lines once in a while, but the coffee scene is what I look forward to the most. When I heard the Indie Coffee Passport (ICP) was coming back, I went to a participating cafe the next day to purchase my passport and redeem my first drink.

As always, inflation affects everything with a price tag. Even with the slight increase over the years, the passport is still worth it. This year, the passport costs $28 ($31.64 with tax).  If you were to visit every cafe on the list, it’d calculate to only $1.22 per drink – a $3-4 saving per latte!

Indie coffee passport

This year’s list is almost entirely new, confirming Toronto’s ever evolving coffee scene. For the new or returning holders, this experience is a great excuse to explore the Toronto neighbourhoods and try somewhere new.

The passport ends October 31, 2016, giving you about 2.5 months left to work through the passport which is still a lot of time!

Here are all the cafes I was able to visit:

coffee cup on a stool with the atlas cafe logo.

ATLAS ESPRESSO BAR

Neighbourood: City Place
www.atlasespressobar.com

Hidden on the other side of the City Place condos, sits a quiet coffee shop with the view of Toronto’s condo living scene. Atlas first opened in 2014 and it’s become the neighbourhood cafe which I wouldn’t disagree. The roast is rich, menu is unique and their pastries and food look delicious. I personally tried their cortado and iced coffee – both delicious drinks. There are a fair amount of seats but definitely a cafe that is comfier for couples or solo. If you are able to get a seat, it’s really a wonderful spot for some quiet time. There is no WiFi.

BIVY (now called LE BARATIN)

Neighbourhood: Brockton Village
www.lebaratin.ca

I really enjoyed the service and quality of the beans here. Bivy has reopened as Le Baratin and it is operating as a French restaurant which I’ve heard is quite good. Since it is restaurant, it was a bit odd coming in for a takeout coffee while diners were having their dinner – but it had to be done and it was worth every awkwardness.

Mocha

CAFE M

Neighbourhood: Yonge/Bloor

M for meh. Located right on the busiest street in Toronto, Cafe M is like a cottage oasis just steps off of Yonge St. Even with the door open, the cafe is generally quiet. It is armed with WiFi, making this cafe a great spot to get work done or a quick quiet getaway from the city life. I tried the macadamia latte and unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it too much. It tasted very sweet, reminding me why I never order flavoured lattes aside from mochas – chocolate I can handle.

Latte art

CAFE NEON

Neighbourhood: Queen West & Wallace-Emerson
www.cafeneon.ca

Both locations have characters of it’s own that reflect the neighbourhood. Although the ICP only provides a complimentary coffee, I ended up staying for a bite at the Queen St. location. The decor is very hipster which aligns with the Ossington crowd well. At the Wallace St. location, I ordered the same drink but to go as it was perfectly located beside my physiotherapy clinic. The atmosphere was very industrial, where it look and felt like you were grabbing a bite in a warehouse turned-cafe. Both were iced lattes and the flavours were consistent.

Iced latte

CREEDS COFFEE BAR

Neighbourhood: The Annex
www.creedscoffeebar.com

This dry cleaning turned cafe has the most seats I’ve ever seen at a cafe. I’ve come here a couple of times after trying it with my ICP because seats are never a problem and the WiFi is dependable. To top it off, their lattes are large and oh so creamy.

Flat white with the Clockwork logo.

CLOCKWORK COFFEE

Neighbourhood: Financial District
www.instagram.com/clockworkcoffee

On one end is the Rose City take-out restaurant, and on the other a modern cafe with the pour over apparatus. The baristas are very pleasant and the pour over coffee had a lovely bold flavour. More of a place for a quick coffee to-go, or 15 coffee meeting for offices nearby.

Iced latte

COFFEE PUBLIC

Neighbourhood: Downtown
www.coffeepublic.org
A students heaven during exam season. I only wish there were spots like this back when I was a student years ago. The baristas are very accommodating, helpful and welcoming. I ordered an iced latte with soy milk and when she saw that I was taking a seat, she asked if I wanted the WiFi password. Usually it’s the opposite! During the time I went, there was construction at College and Bathurst so the streetcars were diverting and it was a bit confusing what the diversion was. The barista took the time to explain what she knew and helped get me along my way on the right route.

www.coffeepublic.org
A students heaven during exam season. I only wish there were spots like this back when I was a student years ago. The baristas are very accommodating, helpful and welcoming. I ordered an iced latte with soy milk and when she saw that I was taking a seat, she asked if I wanted the WiFi password. Usually it’s the opposite! During the time I went, there was construction at College and Bathurst so the streetcars were diverting and it was a bit confusing what the diversion was. The barista took the time to explain what she knew and helped get me along my way on the right route.

A students heaven during exam season. I only wish there were spots like this back when I was a student years ago. The baristas are very accommodating, helpful and welcoming. I ordered an iced latte with soy milk and when she saw that I was taking a seat, she asked if I wanted the WiFi password. Usually it’s the opposite! During the time I went, there was construction at College and Bathurst so the streetcars were diverting and it was a bit confusing what the diversion was. The barista took the time to explain what she knew and helped get me along my way on the right route.

Iced coffee

CYGNET COFFEE

Neighbourhood: Brockton Village

I love mocha lattes so when they had that as an option, I knew what I wanted right away. The iced mocha latter was topped with cinnamon spice, giving it another layer of flavour which complemented the espresso well. Cygnet is very minimalist and simple in their decor. I wouldn’t consider this a comfy cafe as the seats are high, and the tables are small.

Mason jar with an iced mocha on the patio.

Field Trip Cafe

Neighbourhood: Dovercourt Park/Bloorcourt
www.facebook.com/fieldtripcafe

My local coffee shop and I couldn’t be more happier since they’ve become part of the Bloorcourt community. A number of seating indoors and outdoors so you’re never in search of an empty seat. Though they advertise that they have wifi, I’ve never had any luck, so it’s always a spot I’d meet up with a friend to catch up or where I’d bring a good book to read on their patio. Read my full Field Trip review.

Iced coffee in front of a wall of novel pages.

FIKA CAFE

Neighbourhood: Kensington Market
www.fika.ca

In the midst of all the Kensington excitement is a very popular cafe. I ordered an iced cardamom spiced latte which was very delicious. On it’s own, it is quite bitter so if you prefer your lattes on the sweeter end, you may want to add some sweetener to it. The cafe is very bright at the front with pastel accents, while at the back it is darker and quieter with an accent wall stapled with pages from novels. It was oddly encouraging and motivating looking at the wall.

Iced coffee beside the Little Tibet momo passport and indie coffee passport.

I DEAL COFFEE

Neighbourhood: Roncesvalles/Sorauren
www.idealcoffee.ca

One of the few places I’ve been to on the list where I had to pay extra for an iced coffee. Even with the unexpected charge, the drink was still delicious and a well needed refreshment to beat Toronto’s summer heat this year. Coincidentally when I came here for coffee, the Students for a Free Tibet Canada was holding their 2nd annual Momo Crawl – oddly enough, coffee and dumplings go well together!

Toddler making a silly face beside a cheery iced tea.

OUTPOST COFFEE ROASTERS

Neighbourhood: High Park
www.outpostcoffee.com

Small and quaint craft coffee roastery on the west end. I would’ve typically tried a caffeinated drink, but since I was with my niece, I ordered their cherry iced tea instead. A little tart but very refreshing and thankfully, the cherry flavour didn’t remind me of a cough medicine.

Latte with The Coffee Bar logo on it.

THE COFFEE BAR 

Neighbourhood: Downtown Core
www.thecoffeebarinc.com

Just before the tourist chaos from Toronto’s iconic attractions like the Rogers Centre or CN Tower sits a small coffee bar. It is surprisingly quiet part of the downtown core considering two blocks away is tourist galore. I came here twice because I really enjoyed the space and of course their velvet latte. The latte consists of steamed milk, espresso and condensed milk – giving it a sweet, creamy and velvety texture. There is WiFi and it is pretty strong, with lots of seating inside or on the patio. Upstairs, there is also free boardgames.

Aerial view of an iced coffee on a teal bench.

THE STRONG ONE

Neighbourhood: Kensington Market

Hidden from the Dundas street car screeches, is a little cute neighbourhood cafe that frequents Kensingtoners as well as the Toronto Western hospital employees. I love ordering lattes with the ICP and The Strong One was offering a very unique honey lavender latte. I got it iced and after one taste I was hooked. Whenever anything has a floral flavour, I typically avoid it due to the overpowering floral scent – making it tastes like candle/lotion. However, this latte had the right about of lavender for a subtle hint.

iced coffee with the Tucana cafe logo.

TUCANA COFFEE

Neighbourhood: Little Portugal
www.tucanacoffee.com

Their iced latte was a wonderful blend of roast and chill. The natural sweetness from the milk didn’t call for any sugar, making this a healthier latte. Although Tucana feels like a tropical paradise, there is not much seating here so it’s more of your to-go coffee orders. In the summer months, the sidewalk benches get dusted off – perfect for cooler summer days.


Neighbourhood: all throughout Toronto
www.indiecoffeepassport.com

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2 comments

ibigfire August 22, 2016 - 1:11 AM

Congratulations on your reign, Little Lisa the Tired. It was brief, but glorious.

Reply
Lisa Sit August 23, 2016 - 7:43 PM

I will assume and take this as a compliment. 🙂

Reply