Saturday, April 10, 2010

"El cafe est a listo."

[ Alex and I refuel with Au Bon Pain take-out in New York ]

It's the only Spanish phrase I can deliver with perfect fluidity. That, and "Quiero una cerveza". Neither are particularly helpful, unless you're thirsty in Peru or working as a Starbucks barista in East LA. My Ecuadorian/Colombian friend taught me a few things, but nothing to guarantee my survival in non-English speaking parts. Unless I was a caffeine addict. Which I am.

El cafe est a listo. The coffee is ready. Music to my ears. We scored an espresso machine as a wedding gift, thanks to our reluctantly created registry. 

[ Alex prepares a perfect soy latte. It's still a mystery to me. ]

We originally hoped for cash gifts, to help offset our costs; even a budget wedding can be a drain on the wallet. But, in the end, we were quite pleased to come out the other side with grown-up dishes, sheets that actually fit our bed, and a few new gadgets. Our new Breville machine has significantly reduced our latte budget - good news for this unemployed duo. Since we've both been home full-time, stretching severance as far as possible, we've been putting our little friend to good use. Alex is the expert. He needed something, considering the kitchen is really my domain. I can't get the dang thing to create foam. So I guess making a decent latte is an art, after all.

 [ Jimmy's Coffee, Portland and King ]

Not all lattes are created equal. And occasionally, when we do opt for take-out, I can be a little choosy. With good reason. I'm not exactly a coffee snob though, I just refuse to step into a Tim Horton's. What? It's very un-Canadian of me, I know, but the coffee tastes like cigarettes. Just sayin'.

I have many more cafés to hit on my quest for the city's best latte, but in the meantime, here is my current list of favourite hot beverages in Toronto:

Best Soy Latte - Jimmy's Coffee and Moonbean (tie)

Best Green Tea Latte - Moonbean

Best Chai Latte - Niche Café and Lettieri (tie)

Best Boozy Coffee - Kalendar (try the Renaissance Coffee) and Mill Street Brewery Coffee Porter

Best Tea - David's Tea

Best Tea LatteTinto Coffee House and All Things Tea (tie)

Best Value - Butler's Pantry (decent lattes are $2.50!)

Best Caffeinated Indulgence - Starbucks (Dark Cherry Mocha)

Best Drip Coffee - Balzac's

Best Pleasant Surprise - Linux Cafe (Ginseng latte) 

[ sipping tea at Tinto ]

[ directionally challenged in LA. This man has internal Starbucks GPS, though. I swear. ]

OK, the list is a little west-end-centric. Alex wants to buy a house to the Beaches, though. One day, he says. Yeah, uh-huh. Bring home the bacon first, babe. I guess this West End Girl might have to rethink her coffee prejudices just a little. Does East end espresso really measure up? I am told I need to try Dark Horse and Bulldog. A new-ish Dark Horse location popped up on Spadina last year, so I really have no more excuses.

Do you disagree with my list? Let's do coffee. 

[ The coffee in Mexico was gritty and weak. But it was coffee ]

[ Dudley can't partake; caffeine is bad for dogs, but at PawsWay he can actually come inside! ]

[ The enabler: it's all her fault. ]

[ Bailey's in your coffee? But Jill, it's before noon. Exactly. ]

[ Yes, we are THIS serious about our coffee. We have a separate French Press just for camping ]


"Tape the sound of the lake gradually freezing. Drink a cup of hot chocolate, afterwards." - Yoko Ono, via Twitter


  1. East end java joints, Broadview Espresso is my fav and they do a great soy latte... it also helps that they're walking distance from my home. There is also Pulp Kitchen in Leslieville, they're more of a juice and brunch place, but they make a good cup of coffee too, well worth the bike ride.

  2. oooh, let's do coffee! double date?