Canadian coffee culture
Let’s take a trip across Toronto through six flat whites! Of all the coffee places we’ve explored so far, these six seem to epitomise Canadian coffee culture, illustrating the variety in price, style and taste.
1. Second Cup Coffee Co. – $3.65
I’d be lying if I said I always managed to hunt down an independent coffeehouse for my daily caffeine fix, so for a true survey of Canadian coffee culture, we have to begin with chain coffee stores. In Toronto Tim Horton’s and Starbucks compete for most popular, but my favourite of the chains is Second Cup. Established in 1975, they offer a flat white with a mellow espresso and tonnes of creamy milk. This is my go-to comforting afternoon pick-me-up that can be found on almost every corner of downtown Toronto, for a moderate $3.65. And if it’s been a really long day I love to pair my creamy coffee with a traditional Canadian delight – maybe a butter tart or a Nanaimo bar. Whatever gets you through the long winter, ey?!
2. Sorry Coffee – Bloor Street West and Bay – $4.00
For something more urban and adventurous, Sorry Coffee – situated inside the designer clothes store Kit & Ace – offers a painfully trendy alternative. Here takeaway cups are decorated by local artists, this season printed with stamped black ink by Andrew Kidder. The house blend flat white has a deep fruity flavour, verging on bitter, achieved with a mixture of Brazilian and Ethiopian beans. A cute sprinkle-covered vegan donut makes a tasty accompaniment.
3. Goldstruck Coffee – Cumberland Street and Bay – $4.25
The socially minded of Toronto might prefer Goldstruck Coffee, an urban independent coffee house with an ethical conscience. Proud to be fully organic and Fairtrade, they roast their Ethiopian beans no longer than 72 hours before brewing, giving a cup with a punchy aroma and a rich flavour. Hidden away on Cumberland Street, nestled between independent boutiques, this spot offers a warm and cosy atmosphere.
4. Quantum Coffee – King Street West and Spadina Avenue – $4.50
By contrast, Quantum Coffee have found their niche as a ‘coffee concept’ exploring technology’s role within coffee making. From the iPad ordering system to a robotic V60 machine, not to mention the upstairs coding hub ‘BrainStation’, this is the coffee spot of the digital age. Genius or offensive? The jury’s still out. What we do know is that a full-flavoured flat white (served as an unusually large portion size) will set you back $4.50 – my most expensive Canadian coffee yet!
5. Oscar Coffee & Espresso Bar – Queen Street East and Beech Avenue – $3.99
Far away from the city centre, a stop at Oscar’s offers a totally different experience. This beach-side hideaway has a homely feel, with an array of newspapers to browse while sipping. The flat white was pleasantly smooth, but the star of the show was the seasonal hot chocolate topped with an Easter bunny – the perfect fuel on a weekend escape!
6. Dineen’s Coffee Company – Yonge Street and Temperance Street – $3.78
And finally, my favourite Saturday flat white. For a large social space look no further than Dineen’s. Opened in 2013, this heritage property dates from 1897 and gives the coffee shop its name: the space was once home to W. and F. Dineen Co., the prominent Canadian clothing and hat manufacturer. Original period features give this space an authentically industrial vintage feel, with friendly staff and consistently well-made flat whites. Delicious.
I wonder which hidden gems we’ll stumble across for next weekend’s coffee date!