Wednesday, February 20, 2013

CSI Coffee Pub

Cafe: CSI Coffee Pub
Address: 720 Bathurst St.
Phone: 416-836-9646
Store Hours: Mon-Fri 7 AM - 7 PM, Sat-Sun 8 AM - 7 PM

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



Drinks - Soy/Almond/Lactose-Free Options?: Soy and almond
- Uses local maple syrup in specific drinks
- Roasted coffee beans from Fresh Coffee Network
- Offers fruit juices made with local ingredients

Food - Vegan/Vegetarian/Gluten-Free Options?: Yes to all
- Uses local maple syrup in specific food items
- All organic ingredients are from local Toronto farms
- Cheese comes from Quebec
- Offers vegan soup
- Offers open-face toasted sandwiches with a side of greens, $8.50 (tax included)


Drink of Choice: Double Cappuccino, $3.50

When I walked along Bathurst trying to find the cafe, it took a good minute before I realized that it was underground. When I glanced into the cafe from outside, I immediately fell in love with it before stepping foot inside. Vast in size, CSI Coffee Pub provides an amazing location for community get-togethers and group work. However, many students come here to study because it provides that perfect atmosphere (if you are the kind to like open space and people). On top of the cafe are five office floors with about 160 tenants. Everyone working upstairs would come down before work, during break or after their shift for a cup of deliciously brewed coffee and sandwich. I got to speak with one of the owners, Nick, who was extremely friendly and enthusiastic to answer my questions. I found out he also happened to know the president of a student group I am apart of! A small world eh?

CSI Coffee Pub is currently waiting on their liquor license, which would be perfect for those who would want to de-stress from a long day at work. They also brew each and every coffee individually to ensure freshness, all within five days after they receive their roasted coffee beans. They serve some of their drinks in beer mugs as well, so you would be sure to be caffeinated! One of their specialties are their open-face toasted sandwiches with a side of greens for $8.50 (tax included). Customers have claimed that CSI Coffee Pub's sandwiches taste homemade! The cafe doesn't use stamp cards but their drinks are at a great price ($3.50 for a latte in comparison to $4 lattes at other locations).

By the time this review is up, I will be at CSI Coffee Pub once more, enjoying my study time there!

CSI Coffee Pub on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Alternative Grounds - CLOSED

This cafe is no longer in operation.

Cafe: Alternative Grounds
Address: 333 Roncesvalles Ave.
Phone: 416-534-6335
Store Hours: Mon-Fri 7 AM - 7 PM, Sat-Sun 8 AM - 7 PM

Wi-Fi?: Yes
Study Appropriate?: Yes
Stamp Cards?: Yes, but a prepaid card



Drinks - Soy/Almond/Lactose-Free Options?: Yes to all
- Offers Mint Condition Latte
- Offers Cinnamon Heart
- $14/pound for regular coffee
- $15.50/pound for decaf
- Baked goods from Desmond and Beatrice and Sweets from the Earth

Food - Vegan/Vegetarian/Gluten-Free Options?: Vegan and gluten-free
- Also offers dairy-free and wheat-free options
- Offers bagel sandwiches
- Offers soups
- Offers empanadas
- Primarily a vegetarian cafe


Drink of Choice: Cinnamon Heart, $3.45

Upon entering Alternative Grounds, I immediately liked the atmosphere. They had a cozy set up and everything about it made me feel welcomed. Right away, I could tell it was going to take awhile for me to get my questions answered for this review. I was able to ask one of the three baristas on duty, Amy, briefly about the menu before a couple of customers came in to order.

In the meantime while waiting, I went ahead and ordered a Cinnamon Heart, which is a rooibos tea espresso with steamed milk. It was absolutely delicious! If you have a sweet tooth like me, Cinnamon Heart is definitely for you! I'd definitely come back just for this drink alone!

When I found the opportunity to talk to the barista quickly, I was able to inquire some more about their coffee. They roast all of their coffee beans everyday at their Bloor and Lansdowne location. They sell their coffee beans to other cafes as well. Customers are free to come in and buy themselves some coffee beans and tea if they wish. It costs $14 for a pound of regular coffee and $15.50 for decaf. It is a vegetarian cafe that offers vegan options, along with gluten-free, dairy-free and wheat-free! As well, they have a prepaid coffee card that could get you 9 coffee drinks for $13.18 (tax included)

Overall, I really liked the atmosphere. The downside for me personally is the location because it is far west from the downtown core and I could get a bit lazy with that distance. However, if you live in or near Roncesvalles, I think it would be worth stopping by.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Snakes & Lattes

Cafe: Snakes & Lattes
Address: 600 Bloor St. W.
Phone: 647-342-9229
Store Hours: Mon-Sun 11 AM - 2 AM

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


Before renovation

After renovation


Drinks - Soy/Almond/Lactose-Free Options?: Yes to all
- Offers smoothies and milkshakes
- Milkshakes can now be customized!
- Offers Reese's Pieces Cup latte
- Now serves alcohol

Food - Vegan/Vegetarian/Gluten-Free Options?: Yes to all
- Offers sandwiches and baked goods, all made in-house

Chocomint Milkshake, $4.50 + $.0.25 

Myself and a Chocolate Monkey Mocha Milkshake, $4.50 + $0.75 (the drink, not me :P) 


Drink of Choice: Vanilla Strawberry Milkshake, $4.50 + $0.25

Unless you have recently moved to Toronto, you have absolutely no reason to never have heard of or stepped foot into Snakes & Lattes. Being the first cafe to opened up in Toronto with the boardgame concept, it is a popular location for many people to come in and have a good time. Sometimes it would get so full that you'd have to wait before getting a table. Unlike restaurants where food could be consumed quickly, some board games could take a couple of hours (and multiple that for every game afterwards).

When I arrived, it was the first day the cafe reopened after their two-week renovation. They only needed to add some final touches before full completion. The renovation pretty much changed the entire layout of the cafe. They knocked down the wall that separated the two rooms (which I had no idea one of the rooms existed until the second or third time I visited) to make it more spacious than it was before. Since they recently renovated, a lot of other things are in the works as well. Everything on the menu won't be finalized until the end of the February. Also, they are no longer allowing people to book tables online beforehand. They found this to be unfair for anyone who stopped by but was unable to get a table. They only allow bookings now if you have a group of 7 or more people. From there, each person is charged $7.50 per head. In the price, it includes the $5 gaming fee and then $2.50 goes towards drinks and food. So for a group of 7, that would be $17.50 for food. The barista, Patrick, also told me that they are planning on another small reno, making a separate room for larger groups. (Note as of February 8th, 2012: All bookings are currently on hold).

Honestly, I cannot express how every Torontonian should go to Snakes & Lattes at least once. You would get to discover fantastic games you wouldn't have otherwise. (I personally never play board games outside of Snakes & Lattes). I didn't realize how competitive and strategic I could get until I was placed in front of The Settlers of Catan. Don't know how to play something? They have knowledgeable employees who would explain the game from beginning to end!

Also, they have such amazing mikshakes! Try their Chocomint or Monkey Mocha milkshake if you haven't already. (I have yet to try their coffee-based drinks. I heard their Nutella latte is pretty darn good though!) Milkshakes could now be customized! You could either choose a chocolate or vanilla milkshake for $4.50 and then you could add more flavours for either $0.50 or $0.75.

Snakes & Lattes on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Black Canary Espresso Bar

Cafe: The Black Canary (previous Bisogno Espresso Bar)
Address: 61 Sherbourne St.
Phone: 416-301-7633
Store Hours: Mon-Fri 7 AM - 7 PM, Sat-Sun 9 AM - 5 PM
Website: N/A

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



Drinks - Soy/Almond/Lactose-Free Options?: Yes to all
- Offers their signature nutella latte
- Roasted coffee beans from Rufino and Detour Coffee Roasters

Food - Vegan/Vegetarian/Gluten-Free Options?: Vegan and gluten-free
- Offers vegan muffins
- Offers gluten-free cookies
- Baked goods from Desmond and Beatrice
- Offers bagels from Gryfe's Bagel Bakery

Regular Chai Latte, $4


Drink of Choice: Regular Cafe Latte, $4

The Black Canary Espresso Bar was originally known as Bisogno Espresso Bar. One of the owners' love for comics had them open up a new cafe location attached to the comic book store, Silver Snail, at Yonge and Dundas this past year. The owner, Luthie, corrected me with the fact that Bisogno Espresso Bar's name change happened before the opening of their second location. And although the Black Canary is a comic book superhero from the DC Universe, the cafe was not named purposely after the character.

I personally like the new concept of the cafe in combination with the comic book store. I find that absolutely fun and it adds a uniqueness to the cafe. So once I am done my passport and if I have the time, I think I will drop by their Yonge and Dundas location to check it out and see how it compares to the old location.

For those who are familiar with Bisogno Espresso Bar but haven't dropped by lately, everything about the cafe is still the same asides from the brand change and menu board design (which I really like! Simple and clean but sleek). The cafe itself is set up with large windows, making it a great place to work during the day because I am a fan of having an abundance of sunlight. It has a large table that gives the ability for several people to sit at, along with a couple of small ones to the side. If you want to just chill out, you can lounge on one of their big comfy chairs or on the stools by the windows. It is a popular cafe, especially during lunch hour where people would be coming in non-stop for their cup of coffee. Overall, it's nice cafe downtown that has a comfortable atmosphere for a relaxing latte.