Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Only Cafe

Cafe: The Only Cafe
Address: 966 Danforth Ave.
Phone: 416-463-3249
Store Hours: Mon-Sun 6 AM - 10 PM, open during holidays as well!
Website: www.theonlycafe.com

Wi-Fi?: Yes
Study Appropriate?: Yes
Stamp Cards?: No



Drinks - Soy/Almond/Lactose-Free Options?: Yes to all
- Serves Matcha Tea Latte
- Serves Allonge, primarily from Montreal
- Serves Sahara Tea
- Syrups for no charge!: vanilla, caramel, hazelnut, amaretto (almond), and peppermint
- Sells coffee beans from i deal coffee

Food - Vegan/Vegetarian/Gluten-Free Options?: Yes to all
- Gluten-free macaroons
- Vegan chocolate chip cookies
- Vegan bars
- Vegan/vegetarian sandwiches per request
- Offers lunch/bar food

Large Moccachinno, $3.81

Regular Fiery Florence Tea, $1.90


Drink of Choice: Large Iced Frappe, $3.58

The Only Cafe led to my discovery of the Indie Coffee Passport because it was apart of it last year, which I was glad to stumble upon.

I got to speak with Kat, the barista, about the history of the cafe and how it differs from other Toronto cafes. The Only Cafe has been opened for about 3 years now, as an extension to The One in the Only bar, which was established 30 years ago. The owner. James, is a traveller and wanted to be able to welcome travellers all over the world to Toronto. So this past July, he opened a hostel above the cafe! In order to get a room, you must live outside of the GTA and sign up online through their website. It's $28 per night and you will receive a free waffle breakfast with unlimited amount of coffee and tea. Since it first opened, it became #4 hostel in Canada! Instead of just being local, The Only Cafe aims for an international feel with its customers.

The owner likes to support local businesses. The food ingredients are from Masellis Supermarket and the cafe sells coffee beans from i deal coffee. In helping the community, The Only Cafe would donate coffee to community events, particularly ones that are hosted in The Pocket, in order to give back to Toronto.

The food and drinks served are vegan and vegetarian oriented. James didn't want a cafe that overcharges for coffee, so the prices on the menu are aimed to be low. For a latte, you will get a pint for only $4 and adding syrups does not cost extra! And for customer convenience, all the prices are rounded after taxes.

I decided to get the large iced frappe and let me warn you, do not try to sweeten it yourself. It is not a sweet drink, though I am unsure if it could be sweetened as per request. But if you attempt to dump in sugar and honey like I did, it would be a mess. Since it is a cold drink, the sugar and honey would harden and drinking it would NOT work out. I managed to finish it but if I didn't attempt to make it sweeter, it would have been perfectly fine to drink.

What's my personal take on the cafe? It's a very artsy community and I studied here a few times in the past. However, I realized this time when I was studying, once night falls it gets really loud and becomes integrated into the bar scene. So if you do come here to get work done, I suggest early in the afternoon. But if you want to grab your friends together for drinks/coffee, then it is definitely a good place to hang out.

Updated (Mar 3/13): I went back to The Only Cafe because of my second passport. Since I had a chai latte from another cafe earlier in the day, I didn't want to overcaffeinate myself. I sniffed through their Sahara Tea collection before I decided on Fiery Florence.

What got my attention was the strong fragrance of this rooibos tea. I am terrible at describing scents but it was a bit floral in my opinion. It's one of the teas that becomes stronger when made. It actually became a little overbearing, like I was consuming perfume. This is for those who like really strong tea but with a sweet scent. However, if you don't like anything too overwhelming, then this tea probably isn't for you.

The Only Cafe on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 18, 2012

T.A.N. Coffee (Baldwin) - CLOSED

This cafe is no longer in operation. Bicerin Coffee has replaced it.

Cafe: T.A.N. Coffee
Address: 37 Baldwin St.
Phone: 647-352-8550
Store Hours: Mon-Fri 7:30 AM - 7 PM, Sat 9 AM - 7 PM, Sun 9 AM - 6 PM
Website: www.tancoffee.ca

Wi-Fi?: Yes
Study Appropriate?: Yes
Stamp Cards?: Yes



Drinks - Soy/Almond/Lactose-Free Options?: Yes to all
- Fair trade organic coffee
- Serves Flat White, primarily from New Zealand
- Sells coffee beans that are rewarded with the Cup of Excellence
- The espresso is a secret blend!
- Medium roasted coffee are Mexican, and dark roasted coffee are Bolivian. Subject to change.
- Serves organic pop and organic local juices
- 4 types of lemonade served: regular, raspberry, manga, and lime

Food - Vegan/Vegetarian/Gluten-Free Options?: Yes to all
- Selected gluten-free snacks available
- Serves vegan and gluten-free cashew cookies
- Serves walnut brownies
- Vegan sweets from Sweets from the Earth
- Serves paninis
- Serves bagels; can be with cream cheese or butter

Small Dark Roast Coffee, $1.86

Latte, $3.50

Cappuccino, $3.50

Large Cleopatra's Beauty Tea, $2


Drink of Choice: Cappuccino, $3.50

This T.A.N. (The Alternative Network) Coffee location always had that special place in my heart since I first visited last year. Why? I managed to cram and finished my essay for seven hours there (longest time I first spent in a cafe) and I was grateful for not being kicked out after so long, haha.

For this review, I came in around 4 PM on a weekday, with the cafe jammed pack! I didn't recall it being this full when I was previously there and I was ready to take my drink to go when I was waiting to order. Luckily, a table opened up and I was able to snag it just in time. Since it is winter, it got dark pretty quickly. The atmosphere really reminded me of Starbucks, without the Starbucks set-up. Warm and cozy with soft jazz music playing in the background, where one could fall asleep to the dim lighting while reading a book (though the lack of big couches would make that part difficult).

They also sell T.A.N. mugs for $5.99 in a variety of colours. There is also a "book corner" on the shelves, where you can take a book and leave a book. Plus, for all those handmade crafts lovers out there, the cafe has assorted art and jewellery up for sale as well.

Ree, the barista, informed me that the cafe sells specialty roasted coffee beans that are Cup of Excellence. It's a prestigious award for farmers and their coffee beans. In order to get these coffee beans, it must be bid for and once you win, no one else can sell them. So T.A.N. Coffee is currently selling the Cup of Excellence coffee beans from Nicaragua and El Salvador.

There are 7 locations of T.A.N. Coffee, two in Toronto (other one at Ossington), one in Ottawa, and the rest in Nova Scotia. If you've never been to Baldwin Village, I suggest you go check it out along with T.A.N. Coffee!

Monday, November 12, 2012

i deal coffee (Ossington)

Cafe: i deal coffee (Ossington)
Address: 162 Ossington Ave.
Phone: 416-543-7700
Store Hours: Mon-Sun 8 AM - 7 PM
Website: www.idealcoffee.ca

Wi-Fi?: Yes
Study Appropriate?: Yes
Stamp Cards?: No



Drinks - Soy/Almond/Lactose-Free Options?: Soy and Almond
- No syrups offered
- Extra 25 cents for paper cup to go
- i deal coffee roasts their own coffee for sale
- $8.50/half pound of coffee and $9 for coffee of the week
- $16/pound of coffee and $18 for coffee of the week

Food - Vegan/Vegetarian/Gluten-Free Options?: Vegan and Gluten-Free
- Gluten-free macaroons
- Muffins, scones, and squares
- All baked goods from Desmond and Beatrice


Drink of Choice: Mocha, $4

If you go to enough cafes like I do, you would probably recognize i deal coffee. i deal coffee has three cafe locations: Ossington, Kensington and the recently opened, Yonge and Lawrence. I will be reviewing the Ossington location in this review.

i deal coffee  is known for selling their own coffee beans. The coffee beans are roasted every Saturday at their Kensington location, so they are always fresh. They like to keep their focus primarily on their coffee so you won't find any syrups here.

I ordered a mocha. Whenever I think of mocha, or anything chocolate-like, I would automatically assumed it is sweet but this one was bland and I had to sugared and honeyed it up before I was satisfied.

The cafe's design is lacklustre for my taste and I felt could've been better decorated. It has that worn-down and mismatched look that just didn't strike me. However, I do prefer this one over their Kensington's location. Though what lacked in the interior decorating department is compensated in their customer service. Heidi, the barista, is a perky happy girl who answered my questions regarding the cafe. She even took back my mocha and added more foam to make it more appealing for picture-taking purposes.

The cafe definitely had its peak time, I noticed. I was there from approximately late 3 PM till it closed at 7 PM. The peak time was around 4 PM before there was a slow-down. More people came to buy a bag of coffee, rather than staying at the cafe. For any of the purchases of either half a pound or pound of coffee (check menu for price), you will get any free drink or coffee of your choice!

I deal coffee on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Green Grind

Cafe: The Green Grind
Address: 567 College St.
Phone: 647-293-2110
Store Hours: Mon-Fri 8 AM - 8 PM, Sat-Sun 9 AM - 7 PM
Website: www.thegreengrind.ca

Wi-Fi?: Yes
Study Appropriate?: Yes
Stamp Cards?: No



Drinks - Soy/Almond/Lactose-Free Options?: Soy and almond

Food - Vegan/Vegetarian/Gluten-Free Options?: Everything is vegan!
- Gluten-free sweets and soups (soups of the day)
- Serves vegan chili and chana masala
- Croissants and baked goods from Rise Above

Regular Peach Blossom Tea, $2.48


Drink of Choice: Regular Latte, $3.62

The first thing that struck out to me when I first visited The Green Grind last year was the gorgeous mural on the wall. The mural was part of a new campaign to raise awareness for the non-profit children organizations, Make a Wish and Children's Wish, by painting murals all over Toronto. However, the campaign was short-lived and The Green Grind was the first and only location to have it done by the talented Paul Leli (http://rebelimagestudio.com/paulleli/).

What makes The Green Grind different? Well, it's the only cafe in Canada to have the LEED Award of 2011 and 2012, which is an award for green buildings. The Green Grind's entire building is made from recycled goods and environmentally-friendly materials. Becky, the owner, used to be a university student who enjoyed going to cafes as well. She saw the lack in environmentally-friendly cafes and decided to create one of her very own. I don't know about you, but I find this pretty awesome.

Becky doesn't do latte art herself, so I didn't receive any on mine. Her baristas do do them though, so feel free to ask for one when you drop by for a latte. I accidentally drowned my latte with too much Organic Blue Agave syrup, making it way too sweet for me to handle. So it was definitely a lesson learned the next time I get my hands on the syrup.

The Green Grind is definitely a student's haven. I found the cafe to be the perfect study destination. Not that it's not a great place to just chill, but during the peak hours in the afternoon, it's a place to sit down with a nice cup of coffee and hash out all of your research. I like how The Green Grind opens till later, so definitely a bonus for those who need to get a lot of work done.

I really enjoy The Green Grind and it is another one of those cafes I will revisit in the future without the Indie Coffee Passport!

The Green Grind on Urbanspoon