For people who are always cold, there are usually a couple assumptions that you can make that almost always hold true. Layers are essential, and that undershirt/long sleeve combination is only the beginning of your second skin. People are always asking you why you look so cold even though you finally warmed up to a lukewarm room temperature. The mere sight of bare legs in the winter wind makes you shudder, and your beanie collection is never ending.
For all of you that are like me and know that room temperature means you have to bring an extra sweater, you also know that there is nothing better than curling up in a warm coffee shop. The first warming breeze engulfs you in what can only be described as a caffeine filled hug of love. Then you smell the espresso, see the decadent pastries, and as you walk over to that little spot by the fireplace you love the feeling in your feet comes back.
Now, Toronto is filled with a million and one coffee shops (and that’s just east of Yonge). So the real question is how to find that one that is going to keep you cozy when you’re colder than a grade A bitch glare? Don’t worry, we did the work for you. All these cafes are stunning and will warm even the coldest of us up.
1. Merchants of Green Coffee // 2 Matilda St.
Merchants of Green is an experience from the second you walk in; a bright, plant-filled environment that practices exactly what it preaches. They believe in a fully green business model that includes fair trade, fresh roasted coffee served upon an espresso bar made from recyclable material. It’s located in a historic jam factory, giving it an adorable loft style vibe that is always warm with their signature single origin steep and filter coffee. Communal work tables and old cosy couches make this the perfect place to spend the day away from the cold!
Go beyond just drinking the coffee and find out how these coffee experts are making the best possible roast. Take one of their classes with their coffee school (we'd take that test) or reserve your spot to see their Ethiopian coffee ceremony.
This unreal hipster chain stretches from Broadview to King East, and Jarvis St. Each location offers up the distinct brilliance of Pilot Coffee Roasters for their coffee and friendly staff. Their original location on Broadview is as cosy as their hot chocolate, with eclectic decor, lots of board games strewn about, communal tables, and plush couches for lounging. King East comes next with a more modern yet hip vibe, exposed pipes along the ceilings contrast the red couches and artworks along the wall. And lastly, there is the newest location on Jarvis St. that looks like the inside of a GQ model’s mind - sleek, modern, and ever so hip. Black couches, open loft style floor plan, and an espresso machine that looks like it’s from the future. Make sure to get their cinnamon buns, butter tart, matcha latte and/or their unreal almond milk latte.
3. Istanbul Cafe // 174 Eglinton Avenue East
From the second you step in there is a rustic, warm decor, which features a cosy fireplace to curl up beside. We love this place for their high-quality Arabica coffee from the Social Coffee and Tea company. The real gem of this place though has to be their authentic Turkish coffee and pastries, try out the walnut baklava or/and the pistachio sekarpare. With lots of seating available and the Turkish decor providing a warming ambience, it’s the perfect place to work/relax/warm up all day long! Stay until night and they start serving beer, an ideal excuse to never have to expose yourself to the cold.
4. Flying Pony // 1481 Gerrard St. East
Flying Pony in Little India won’t only warm you up with coffee, but with some unreal art. Its main purpose is to make fine art accessible to people that wouldn’t usually get to view its beauty. You’ll spot this gem from a mile away, it’s neon bright pony sign flying over the entrance is like a beacon of warm hope (ah, romantic). Step inside to find a display of cool contemporary art, check out what they have on here! Their coffee comes from blends of Central American, Bolivian and other fair trade organic beans, making your morning cup of joe that much better. Muffins, scones, croissants, cakes, vegan options are offered as well- one second just need to stop drooling. Come here to truly expand your definition of what it means to be a cool cafe.
5. Little Nicky's Coffee // 375 Queen St. West (behind the Gap on Peter St.)
We all know that love warms the soul, another thing that warms it even more? When that love comes in freshly made mini doughnut form. Little Nicky’s is a local fave for their stellar made in house doughnuts (a dozen for $4 made in front of you), cool atmosphere and unique vibe. They use a mix of personal house blend and Concord coffee beans for their coffee. We love their almond milk latte, London fog or classic americano. Before round two of those delicious mini delicacies why not try some of the cookies baked in-house by the lovely owner? This spot is a true testament to the fact that good things come in small packages.
6. Boxcar Social // Various Locations
Many locations, but only 3 words we want to say to this magical coffee chain, we love you. These guys had a mission when they set out to start this shop; do what they love and do it really well. Whether they are offering coffee from the best roasters around the world (bringing you far away from your winter blues literally) or offering up a carefully crafted selection of the world’s top wines, craft (obviously) beers and whiskies - we can safely say they are accomplishing that mission pretty well. Distract yourself from your numb feet by embracing the warm taste of their unique blends. Espresso from Ethiopia, Costa Rica, Brazil perhaps? Or mix it up and try the Whisky Tango tasting flight for some coffee and whisky. They offer up delectable gourmet food as well from the classic pastries, charcuterie boards, lunch and breakfast options at their Harbourfront and Temperance locations, and even a dinner menu at Harbourfront.
7. Le Gourmand // 152 Spadina Ave.
Le Gourmand is an oasis located in the bustle of Queen and Spadina. Their coffee is their own Le Gourmand “Black Gold” blend, which is sure to wake you up! Pair it with a classic flaky croissant, their famous chocolate chip cookie (we'd even venture to say it's the best in the city), or custard tart - all which are sure to melt in your mouth. They have a variety of options from grab and go favourite like yoghurt and granola and breakfast sandwiches to omelettes. Lunch options have amazing deli salads and sandwiches; get the prosciutto, arugula pesto, brie cheese and organic ficelle sandwich. And their weekend brunch lemon ricotta buttermilk pancakes? Let’s just say you better get there early.
8. The Brockton Haunt // 1150 College St.
This space is minimalist but without that icy chill, the small space is airy and bright, making it a dream come true for anyone looking for a new, warm oasis. They offer high-quality espresso based drinks (ft. blends from Pilot Coffee Roasters) as well as classic delicious pastry options, and even unique empanadas and breakfast pockets (the sausage and egg will fuel you). Make sure to get the banana bread, it's a crowd favourite for a reason that can only be described when you take your first bite! Maybe part of that reason is they bake everything in-house with what the owner calls her "easy-bake oven". This mother-daughter run spot stands out for their cool events like their recent art show that featured Phil Bowen and Pat Butler where people could enjoy art and some dope Ace Hill beer.
Looking for a more hefty meal after your coffee? Their neighbour, Laylow serves up a delicious brunch and happens to serve TheBrocktown Haunt's coffee so you never really have to leave.
9. Crafted (By Te Aro) // 135 Ossington Ave.
Pilot Coffee Roasters is not only a coffee distributor, but a pure caffeine charged empire. They source coffee using the direct trade model, roast each bean to perfection, to create the perfect brew. Crafted, an outpost of Te Aro, is one of our faves cafes of their to warm up at. There's something about sleek wooden furniture with a hipster vibe and eclectic photos on the wall that just works with coffee. With stellar coffee (get the Siphoned, or 6-hour cold drip coffee for a really unique experience), pastries from Circles and Squares, vegan treats, a fabulous aesthetic, and a variety of seating with wifi? We'd cosy up here any day.
Pro tip, get the dark and stormy for a life changing experience. Soy, espresso, vanilla syrup and ginger ale never went so well together, trust us).
10. Cabin Fever Collective // 506 Adelaide St. West
If you're looking for a grab and go coffee, don't head here- but if you are looking for an unreal combination of a cafe, bar, art space and record store? Ya. This is your home. Their coffee is from Birds and Beans, so grab a cup and browse their Vinyl Records. Head in on Sunday for their all you can play pinball for $5 (get a grand champ on a machine to get a free beer). Stay around long enough to grab a drink at the bar (Friday they have a Pint + Shot for $11 ) from their specially crafted alcohol menu. All that action? Sure to warm any cold soul up.
11. Forget Me Not Cafe // 506 Adelaide St. West
As much as you can guarantee you won't feel your feet between the months of November to March, you can bet that you won't forget this place. It's known to all that visit as a cozy and beautiful spot to settle down for a couple hours of much-needed city detox. Once your down taking in the adorable vintage vibe (and maybe doing some shopping from their selection), and settle down with a rich Nutella latte. Pair it with a sweet or savoury snack (the empanadas are legendary here), and enjoy the warmth of your new go to spot at King and Queen just off of Portland.