The Toronto Coffee Conspiracy: Slacking off, Sam James Espresso Bar , Dark Horse Espresso Bar, Blondies

Cafe Latte from Sam James Espresso Bar

Well, I’ve been slacking on my goal of getting a coffee from the TCC people on a daily basis, but I finally went to Sam James Espresso Bar (297 Harbord Street, get off at Christie Subway Station.) last week. I ordered a Soy Latte ($3.33) and it was yummy. Smooth flavoured, and not even a hint of sharpness. They are cash only and they don’t have wifi, which is fine considering there isn’t really a huge amount of space to sit down. But seriously, best latte I’ve had in town. Probably also the cheapest. Extra points for not charging for soy milk (have I mentioned enough how tired I am to see an extra charge for that?)

Soy Latte from Dark Horse Espresso Bar

On Tuesday, I went to Dark Horse Coffee (they have two locations but I went to the one at 215 Spadina Ave), which is this amazing space relying a lot on natural light, lots of places to sit, but minimal outlets for plugging in ones laptop. There is wifi, but it’s limited to an hour (at least of the ones I picked up.) The latte was beautiful, but not exciting. It seems like the perfect place for both hanging out (there are cozy spaces behind the coffee bar) and group work (they have giant tables by the windows) and it’s a great location (relatively close to Kensiginton Market) They do charge extra for soy, and it was the second most expensive latte I’ve had, but I loved the space and would go there again. Of the food items they had available, I saw a couple vegan cookies from
Sweets From the Earth.

Cafe Latte from Lit

Thursday I went over to Lit Espresso Bar (they have two location, but I went to the one at 810 College St.) Upoon walking in I was delighted to see that they brew a very familiar coffee, Stumptown Coffee (the coffee found in nearly every coffee shop everywhere in Portland, Oregon… aka Stumptown.) My barista was friendly, and helped me out right away, so that part was nice. They also charge extra for soy milk, and in doing so, became the most expensive latte I’ve had in Toronto (however, I should also mention, the portion is comparatively bigger so I’m not exactly complaining about that part.) I think Sam James Espresso Bar raised the bar for me. I should have gone there last, because I keep searching for that perfect smooth flavour. Lit has WiFi, and (stuff labelled) vegan from OMG Baked Goodness, when I went in they had a decent selection of chocolate banana muffins and cupcakes (but as I’ve mentioned before, I will never ever eat anything from that bakery.)


Last stop on the TCC run was Blondie’s Coffee Bar. This place is a coffee shop by day, and a bar by night, which may help explain the stripper pole and the dance floor. Really nice atmosphere, great hip looking seating areas and free wifi. What’s not to like? Well. While I did appreciate not being charged for soy milk, and I liked that they charged extra for to go/paper cups (I think it was 50 cents) the soy latte I had was totally awful. Bitter, sour and composed of mostly foam. Maybe this was an off day, but it was honestly atrocious. I wouldn’t mind visiting Blondie’s in the evening sometime, but I think I’ll just skip the coffee from now on.

On the way to Blondie’s (1378 Queen Street W, I got off) I walked by an under construction “pure vegetarian” Indian restaurant. Potentially exciting place to check out in Parkdale in the future. I’ll keep my eyes open.

Since it was my last coffee stop with TCC, it seemed perfect timing (okay I’m being sarcastic) that I would just learn about the Indie Coffee Passport. It’s a card you can buy for $25 which lets you get a drink valued at $5 or less, at 24 different independent coffee shops around the city. Sounds like a great deal to me, and I love exploring new places, so I’m certain that card will be in my future.

Also, wow the pictures above make it so obvious which hand is my coffee drinking hand.

2 Responses

  1. Oh my god I had an appalling soy latte at Blondie's too!! Watery and disgusting.. glad it's not just me.

    Umm, hi. I'm just reading back over your recent entries after seeing your Vegan Mofo one linked on Twitter 🙂

  2. For whatever reason, it really is nice not to be the only one. It's such a great looking place, I just wish the coffee didn't suck! Hah!