Thursday, January 31, 2013

Monarch Espresso Bar - CLOSED

Cafe: Monarch Espresso Bar
Address: 12 Clinton St.
Phone: 416-531-5833
Store Hours: For cafe: Mon-Fri 8:30 AM - Depending (Winter approx. 3 PM & Summer approx. 6 PM), Sat-Sun Closed; For bar:  Mon-Sun 11 AM - 3 AM

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


First Floor

Second Floor


Drinks - Soy/Almond/Lactose-Free Options?: Soy and lactose-free
- Offers vanilla soy milk
- Roasted coffee beans from Detour Coffee Roasters and David Lynch Espresso
- Offers over 30 types of bourbon

Food - Vegan/Vegetarian/Gluten-Free Options?: Vegetarian and gluten-free
- Baked goods made in-house every morning
- Offers croissants, cookies, and brownies
- Food is different everyday; no standard prices
- Gluten-free beer!
- The people from Hogtown Smoke food truck are now cooking for The Monarch Tavern; their menu is also available for order


Drink of Choice: Double-Shot Latte, $4.50 

Walking through a residential neighbourhood, I was a bit confused with the location of Monarch Espresso Bar. This cafe was surrounded by homes, while most cafes I was used to were at least at the corner of the street. What got me even more confused was when I arrived to a pub called The Monarch Tavern, not Monarch Espresso Bar. Upon entry, I was glad to find myself in the right place.

I spoke to Sarah, who told me that the "cafe" opened only recently in the past year within the pub. The Monarch Tavern itself is one of the oldest pubs in Toronto, opened since 1928. It is a community centre where there are ongoing events everyday for people to come in and enjoy themselves. With two floors, they have enough space to accompany the people that are attending events and those who want to drop by for a good grub and some beer (over 30 types of bourbon anyone?). They have many reoccurring events such as Choir! Choir! Choir! (on Wednesdays), Karoke Thursdays, and Vinyl Nights. For Vinyl Nights (which happens every Tuesday at 8 PM), anyone can bring in a vinyl for the pub to play and you get a free shot and drink! Yes, free alcohol, seriously. They also have a new event, which is a dance party that happens every Wednesday night along side with Choir! Choir! Choir!

I wouldn't really recommend for people to come here if they would want to study or do work. I say yes for study appropriate because it is possible, but I suggest for you to do it earlier in the day. I came around 11 AM and it was pretty dead at the time, so I had some work done for sure. However, I'm pretty sure if I came late noon, I could imagine it getting pretty busy and loud.

For Indie Coffee Passport holders, you aren't restricted to the 6 drink menu. If you come in, you are free to order whatever you wish on Monarch Espresso Bar's menu! As well, if you pick up their stamp card, the first drink is free!

Monarch Tavern on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Grind House - CLOSED

Cafe: The Grind House
Address: 281 Augusta Ave.
Phone: 647-330-0617
Store Hours: Mon-Sat 9 AM - 7 PM, Sun 10 AM - 7 PM

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



Drinks - Soy/Almond/Lactose-Free Options?: Yes to all
- Offers white chocolate mocha
- Organic fair trade and single origin coffee beans
- Roasted coffee beans from Fair Grounds

Food - Vegan/Vegetarian/Gluten-Free Options?: Yes to all
- Offers gluten-free and vegan Nanaimo bars
- Baked goods from Wildflours and Whisk Bakery & Creamy
- Offers gelato in the summer

Regular Latte, $3.57


Drink of Choice: Regular White Mocha Latte, $3.75

I remember stopping by The Grind House this past summer when I was with my cousins browsing Kensington Market. We saw that they were selling gelato and decided to drop in. I got a small cup of gelato and even though I don't recall what I got, I think it is pretty cool to find a cafe that sells them during the warmer season. However, I didn't get the chance to actually sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee there at the time.

I got to speak with one of the owners, Irene, regarding their menu when I arrived with my Indie Coffee Passport. As you can see, they have an extensive menu that any hunger you may have coming in would definitely be satisfied. They mainly outsource their baked goods from Wildflours and Whisk Bakery from Etobicoke. They also use Clover, a brewing system that makes French press coffee.

It has a comfortable atmosphere and overall a really nice place to sit down in. They also sell art from local artists, which they do not take any commission on, so the artists get 100% of the selling price. If you happen to really love The Grind House, you can buy a t-shirt for only $15! If all the other cafes could jump on board with selling their own t-shirts, I think that would be wicked.

The drink I chose was the white mocha latte. It wasn't sweet but it was one of the lattes where I didn't have to add any more sugar to make it bearable. I definitely liked how it looked, even though there was no latte art. What can I say, I like pretty looking drinks.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Moonbean Coffee Company

Cafe: Moonbean Coffee Company
Address: 30 St. Andrew St.
Phone: 416-595-0327
Store Hours: Mon-Sun 7 AM - 9 PM

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



Drinks - Soy/Almond/Lactose-Free Options?: Yes to all
- Rice milk available
- Offers smoothies and juice bars
- Offers Ovaltine hot chocolate
- Specialty drink is their Moonbean Cappuccino Shake

Food - Vegan/Vegetarian/Gluten-Free Options?: Yes to all
- Organic and fair-trade coffee beans, roasted in-house 2-3 per week
- Vegan bread and cookies
- Cookies baked every morning in-house
- Uses whole wheat bread
- Breakfast and lunch meal options available, such as bagels and sandwiches

Medium Chai Caramel Latte, $3.50

Large Raspberry Blueberry Parade, $5.25

Large Peachy Cream Smoothie, $5.25


Drink of Choice: Jasmine Matcha Latte, $3.50

When I was still a cafe newbie, I was told to definitely visit Moonbean Coffee Company. Luckily, it was on last year's Indie Coffee Passport, so I had the chance to try this oh-so-popular Kensington Market cafe. I had their caramel chai latte the first time and I remembered enjoying it. I came back in the summer because I knew they also served smoothies and juice bars. When I bought two of their smoothies, I was so so so disappointed. Both their Peachy Cream and Raspberry Blueberry Parade were sooo bland! From what I could remember, I barely tasted anything from either of the drinks. I think Raspberry Blueberry Parade was only slightly (oh-so-slightly, like 1% slightly) better. That was a lesson learned, so I definitely would not be picking up any of the smoothies ever again.

Fast-forwarding to the day I came to interview the barista, Toshimi, and review this cafe. From what I remembered previously, it was still as packed as it used to be, no matter what time during the day. I never got the chance to sit outside in their patio during the summer. But for those who enjoy having their coffee under the sun, it's definitely there when it is open during the warmer season. If you like going to cafes later on in the day, Moonbean is definitely one since it is open seven days a week until 9 PM. They also sell the art on their wall for any collectors out there.

They sell coffee beans and different types of teas from all over. So if you are a tea or coffee fanatic, this place would be perfect for you to stock up on unique flavours like Toasted Almond or Banana coffee beans!  For the tea, it could cost anywhere from $1.75 to $2.95 per cup depending on the tea itself.

I definitely enjoyed my Jasmine Matcha Latte. It is the perfect combination of just sweet enough without it being overbearing on the taste buds. So definitely do not sweeten it any further. My friend made that mistake without tasting hers first and it became a sugar bomb for every sip she took.

Moonbean Coffee Company on Urbanspoon