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

Toronto’s west-end denizens aren’t coffee snobs per se, but they certainly know the difference between a fresh-pressed Americano and a flavourless cup of drip. Here are some top-notch cafés west of Spadina that are earning respect and adoration from some of the city’s most discerning coffee drinkers.

Crafted Coffee Corp

117 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON M6J 2Z2

It’s easy to see why this neighbourhood haunt is a popular hangout for the fashionable inhabitants of the hip Ossington strip. The welcoming interior incorporates rustic barn boards, Mason jar light fixtures, artwork from local creative -types and alt fashion magazines strewn about the expansive communal seating area. Artisanal espresso beans — including the signature Big Bro house blend — are provided by Pilot Coffee Roasters and loose-leaf teas are courtesy of Tealish.

Early Bird Espresso And Brew Bar

613 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V 2B7

Early birds flock to this Queen Street café for the warm pastries and dependable espresso-based drinks. The array of tables and chairs, free Wi-Fi and extensive food menu make this expansive space an ideal spot to set up a mobile office for the day. Check out the artfully designed terrariums on the large communal table and cool off with a unique craft cold brew tonic.

Jimmy's Coffee Bar

107 Portland St, Toronto, ON M5V 2N3

What’s in a name? Phil Morrison never met a Jimmy he didn’t like, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a Torontonian who doesn’t swoon over the smooth Americanos at this Portland street café. Witty staff members banter jovially with waiting customers to ensure everyone feels like a regular. The talented baristas have been known to take foam art requests if you’re bold enough to ask for a personalized design. In the warmer months, ask for an iced cortado — the cold drink has an unexpected velvety texture and is the perfect mid-afternoon pick me up.

Cherry Bomb Coffee

79 Roncesvalles Ave, Toronto, ON M6R 2K6

Look for the large cherry high above the storefronts along the Roncesvalles strip – this distinct ruby red orb will lead you to some of the west end’s best beans. Here the coffee is strong and dark and the homemade cookies, muffins and croissants are served without pretense, stacked simply on baking trays behind the counter. Take your coffee to go — seating is limited at this minimalist joint — and enjoy a stroll through the bustling neighbourhood.

White Squirrel Coffee Shop

907 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1G5

It’s not uncommon to see the line-up snaking out the door at this Queen West fave. The quirky name pays homage to the legendary Albino squirrel that resides in Trinity Bellwoods Park just across the street. During the summer months, in-the-know locals use the walk-up window to order sinfully sweet scoops of toasted marshmallow ice cream.

Toronto’s frigid winter months were made for curling up with a warm mug of hot cocoa. Escape the chilly air inside these local cafés where the hot chocolate is sweet, spicy and sinfully delicious.
Grabbing lunch or dinner around the TIFF Bell Lightbox? If you've a craving for thin crust, wood-fired pizza in an upscale atmosphere, stop in at one of these trendy King West trattorias where humble pizza pie gets the gourmet treatment.
With plenty of cinematic delights to take in, you’ll need to make sure your hungry brood is properly fuelled during TIFF. Forget the typical movie-theatre popcorn and indulge in a meal at one of these family-friendly downtown dining destinations around the TIFF Bell Lightbox. [Image credit:]
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