The Toronto Coffee Conspiracy – Manic Coffee, Crema Coffee and Mercury Espresso Bar

So I was going to start out by saying, I’ve never been much of a coffee drinker, but I have and will likely always be a coffee drinker on one level or another. I’m just in denial about it. Lately, I’ve been actively going to the independent coffee places in Toronto. I loved going to Transcend, Remedy and Credo Coffee (especially on Farmer’s Market Day!) in Edmonton, because they had that nice relaxed indie atmosphere, one that Starbucks isn’t ever going to have (where they train you the appropriate way to order a cup of whatever) and the friendliness that Second Cup always seems to lack (at least in my experience.)

So I’ve been missing it, and while I can’t help but love those damnable veganized Frappachino’s from Starbucks on a hot hot day (even though I’m trying not to), it was time to start supporting some of great local places. Especially since Toronto has quite a selection to choose from.

I started out at Manic Coffee (426 College Street, You have to options for getting here, but they’re going to involve a street car) on Wednesday afternoon, because someone suggested we meet there for a coffee. It’s right across the street from Sneaky Dee’s and I’ve seen it all the time, but never stopped in. Well, I’m glad I did.

I felt very technologically advanced getting a cup of coffee brewed with the Clover brewing system (which I’ve only seen at Transcend previously) with the El Salvador: Los Inmortales Blend from Intelligencia Coffee. It was boldly flavoured and struck an interesting balance of acidity without being sour. You can tell the people at Manic Coffee are knowledgeable and passionate about coffee, because not only do they know the answers, they seem to really want to tell you about them. As I was sitting around I heard them telling people all this great info about coffee and the clover brewing method.

Clover coffee from Manic Coffee
In terms of vegan edible things, they have cookies and other things from Sweets from the Earth bakery, but I didn’t notice anything else. And there is WiFi in there, I don’t know if it’s their connection, but I used the heck out of it.

Part of the reason I decided to do this visit all of the coffee shops in the TCC (oh and by the way, their logo is suspiciously similar to the Toronto Transit Commissions TTC logo, snicker.) because of the Disloyalty card. My inner troublemaker was tickled when I read the name, and then a light bulb lit up above my head, and I pledged to be caffeinated daily until I filled up my disloyalty card.

Thursday morning I was still taken with the idea that I should make the next few days early morning coffee days, so I went over to Crema Coffee (53 Bloor St E, get off at Bloor Subway Station and walk for two minutes). This one is located inside a Freshii (which has some vegan options) but I didn’t notice any vegan baked items in their display (but I also didn’t ask.) Crema Coffee has another location that looks fun and much bigger at 3079 Dundas St W.

Soy Latte from Crema Coffee
I think I had one of the best soy lattes at Crema Coffee, but I’m not exactly a coffee connoisseur. Regardless, it wasn’t particularly pretty looking. I started out with an iced soy latte (and as another sign that I’m spoiled… everytime I order it, I expect it to be a blended icy drink, and I’m always disappointed when it isn’t) which was okay, but basically whenever I order an iced latte, it ends up being a shot of espresso mixed with untouched soy milk, rather then an actual soy latte with ice in it. (first world problems right?) then I decided to justify my long term stay with another cup of coffee.

This one has WiFi provided by Freshii, and the access to certain things is blocked off (and no, I wasn’t trying to watch porn) and I think they must cut off access to a particular MAC address after a couple of hours, because at around that point I lost usable signal. But most normal people don’t spend two hours at a coffee shop right?

Yesterday, during the beautiful hot humid morning, I went over to the Mercury Espresso Bar, which is in Leslieville (and in a neighbourhood that I really loved.) Upon arriving I found out that they were cash only (darn it) but there is an ATM just down the street. I got a nice soy latte (which was in a paper cup unfortunately) but for whatever reason I didn’t like it as much as hanging out at Manic Coffee. I didn’t feel cool enough to be drinking coffee at Mercury.

Soy Latte from Mercury Espresso Bar
I haven’t decided on my next coffee stop in the city, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out right as I step out the door. Three down, five more to go!