Coffee shops with a cult following in Toronto's east end

There’s no need to travel across the Don River to satisfy your caffeine cravings. These indie espresso bars have evolved into community hubs that keep east end coffee lovers loyal thanks to their talented baristas and top-notch food and drink.

Rooster Coffee House

479 Broadview Avenue, Toronto, ON M4K 2N4

Riverdale locals come home to roost at this neighbourhood gathering spot situated along a sleepy residential stretch of Broadview Avenue. Drinks are made with locally sourced beans from Te Aro and the interior has a distinct farmhouse feel with mismatched knick-knacks and antiques scattered throughout. Vintage suitcases serve as tabletops and strangers bond over games of Scrabble. As an added bonus, the patio offers an unrivaled view of the downtown skyline from its unique location perched atop Riverdale Park.

Te Aro Coffee Inc

983 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1K2

It’s hard to say what’s more impressive at this Leslieville spot from the folks behind Pilot Coffee Roasters — is it the dense and creamy flat whites or the expansive café interior constructed inside a former auto garage? Coffee beans are roasted on site and complemented with a selection of fresh sandwiches, toasted paninis and house-made baked goods. Coffee aficionados can also pick up a variety of at-home brewing accessories including ceramic drippers, filters and design-oriented grinders.

Red Rocket Coffee

1364 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4J 1M9

Named after Toronto’s iconic cherry-red streetcars stationed in the nearby TTC yard, Red Rocket delivers a much-needed jolt to east end commuters with its organic, fair trade beverages made with Reunion Island espresso. After five years in Lesliveille, the coffeehouse recently relocated northward, much to the delight of local caffeine addicts along the Danforth.

Mercury Espresso Bar

915 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1J4

The fun-loving baristas behind the counter at this Leslieville espresso bar are far too humble to boast about their award-winning reputation, but theirs is a talent you can taste in every cup. You’ll find staple specialty drinks — Americanos, cortados, macchiatos — made with direct trade coffee beans from George Howell and Bows & Arrows, which are also available for purchase to brew at home.

Dark Horse Espresso Bar

630 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1G3

Those in the west end may try to lay claim to this notorious name, but the café’s roots are firmly planted east of the Don River. The Queen East location attracts a steady stream of customers throughout the day, from the rush hour commuters, to the late-morning stroller crowd, and the laptop-toting freelancers hunkering down for the day. The oversized communal table and sunny interior encourage a friendly, leisurely vibe amongst the cast of regulars.

Mad Dog Cafe

817 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1Y8

Families cram inside cozy leather booths and catch up over brunch at this charming Gerrard Street café. A true neighbourhood gem, foamy lattes are served alongside savoury homemade breakfast sandwiches. In keeping with the small-town feel, faithful customers and friendly baristas are on a first name basis.

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