Photo cred - Where The Sweet Things Are
In reality, civilization wouldn't exist without coffee. Hell, Toronto would be a terrifying depiction of Gotham City if our fellow "6-ers" couldn't get a hot one every morning. And not just a double-double, is-this-sugar-or-battery-acid coffee, but a brew with integrity - a blend made by a barista/art student who just so happens to be a bean expert and a full-time dreamer. There's a big difference between the two and that's why artisan cafés have replaced Coffee Time in the 416. Their drinks are superior in every way and its spots like these that go on to show why everyone should hop off the Tims train.
Black Canary Espresso Bar
Black Canary has two locations - one at Sherbourne & Adelaide and another inside Silver Snail Comics at Ryerson - and believe it or not, both have established a positive reputation. Mostly because Black Canary are a one-stop shop for espressos and Americanos. Their brews excel with fruity tones and the perfect amount of crema and it doesn't hurt that they always have a selection of muffins, scones, and cookies on stand-by. Or in the case of the Silver Snails set-up - comics, because why not?
It's true: Parkdale has its own little coffee haven. While they're known for their lattes and cappuccinos ($3.75 ea), Capital Espresso also offer Americanos ($2.75), Macchiatos ($3), Sopranos ($3), and Cortados ($3) - not to mention meat/veg sammies that make breakfast seem less bleak.
Dark Horse Espresso
Dark Horse has its locations (Queen West, Chinatown, Riverside, Ent. District), its rich brews, and its lovely bakery delights, but it also has feng shui. Or to keep it simple - a cozy atmosphere. All four locations feel like a TO café because of the hustle and bustle, and it's comforting in a sense because everyone just wants a great cup of java and without the frills.
Photo cred - Table For Maple
Corktown's finest may not be appealing to outlet hogs, but at least they let you pick the bean. Customer service is where Fahrenheit excels as their super-friendly baristas are professionals when it comes to offering recommendations that can cure hangovers, morning lag, and overall bad vibes. They'll eventually turn you into a coffee snob (or a gluten fiend), but hey, most of qualify anyway.
The thing about Jet Fuel is you either love them or hate them. The Cabbagetown retreat attracts a large number of university students and caffeine nerds - so it can be a little crowded at times - but it's all for the love of espresso. Jet's baristas are always experimenting with basic drinks and whether you're a bike courier or a hungover mess, they've got your back.
Mercury Espresso Bar
Mercury Espresso aren't widely known for their caffeinated pick-me-ups, but this one's for the East Enders. Outside of your basic staples, Mercury put a large focus on what goes on around the bean and that's why they excel at creating specialty drinks that don't know the meaning of the word "bland".
Rooster Coffee House
Rooster sits at two locations - one in Riverdale and another on King St E. - and they both operate under a cozy aesthetic and with a penchant for variety. The cafes regularly bring in blends from local Toronto-based roasters (not to mention others from around the world) and they do an outstanding job at covering all bases with strong brews, colder bevs, and an assortment of tea lattes.
Sam James Coffee Bar
Who would have thought Sam James' junk shop would immediately transform into a full-fledged Toronto chain? SJCB is now home to four locations - Hardbord, The PATH, Ossington, and the Pocket on Bloor - and all four take no BS when it comes to pouring a hot one. Crowds are expected (thanks to students), but that's what happens when your cappuccino is a living legend.
Photo cred - Shummy
Sense Appeal Coffee Roasters
In 2010, Sense Appeal boldly re-constructed an abandoned stairwell in the GTA's Fashion District and now they've become drip pioneers. Need proof? Just look at the fine print. Their Spadina Ave spot will always be their central hub, but their Lakeshore West location now offers siphon, cold brew, AeroPress, and pour over delights that can go bold or floral.
You'd be hard-pressed (or an idiot) to exclude Leslieville's Te Aro because the décor matches the their menu. They go for the palette with their espressos and brewed drinks and their food offerings aren't anything to scoff at either as they serve up breakfast baps, toasted paninis, and beef brisket on sourdough with cheddar, crispy pickles, and dijon mayo.