Explore your world
Almond Butterfly
Almond Butterfly

The 10 Most Student-Friendly Cafes In Downtown Toronto

Picture of Jelin Philip
Updated: 9 February 2017
As any university student knows, sometimes the school library just won’t cut it. Students at Ryerson and the University of Toronto are lucky to attend schools in the heart of this beautiful city. While the campuses have everything you need – St. George is one of the most stunning campuses in Canada, and Ryerson is connected to the Eaton Center (shopping study break, anyone?) – sometimes you need to leave the study room behind. Looking for somewhere other than Starbucks and Tim’s to get that caffeine and pastry fix? We’ve got you covered; here are 10 special Toronto spots for a university student to explore.

Balzac’s Coffee Roasters – Ryerson Image Centre

Ryerson students, you got lucky; Balzac’s has locations spread across Toronto, including Liberty Village and the Distillery District. But to have one right at your school? Appreciate the small things, co-eds. Balzac’s Ryerson Image Center brews some of the best coffee in Toronto. Balzac’s is a great spot to get some work done, read, and meet up with friends. With huge communal tables, bar seating, bistro-style tables, and a patio for the warmer months, there are plenty of work surface options. It can get pretty crowded, so you might have to keep your eyes peeled for a spot.

Balzac’s Coffee Roasters, 122 Bond Street, Toronto, ON, Canada, + 1 416 597 1700

Balzac's Coffee Roasters

Courtesy of Balzac’s Coffee Roasters


Sense Appeal Coffee Roasters

Located on Spadina just west of the universities, Sense Appeal is a must-visit for much-needed caffeine. If you like to keep things old-school, their Carbon coffee tastes as good as it smells. Feeling fancy? Make studying more tolerable with Sense Appeal’s specialty drinks; swap an Americano for a Maple Sap Canadiano (we are in the North, after all). With a simplistic look featuring beautiful wooden counters by the windows for studying and people watching, Sense Appeal makes the cut.

Sense Appeal Coffee Roasters, 96 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 647 527 6234


Black Canary Espresso Bar

Right at Yonge and Dundas on the second floor of the Silver Snail comic book shop, Black Canary is the perfect spot for Ryersonians. Is there a more homey feeling than escaping the bustle of the city to the sanctuary of a quaint cafe? Doubtful. This espresso bar offers all of your java pick-me-up needs while you study. Are you a chocolate addict? Looking for some unique flavors? Black Canary has you covered – the Nutella Latte, Toasted Marshmallow Latte, and Matcha Latte are some of the well-known customer favorites.

Black Canary Espresso Bar, 329 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416 593 0889

Jimmy’s Coffee

This beautiful and cozy cafe situated in Kensington Market always finds itself with visitors filling its comfy sofas. Jimmy’s gives off an artistic vibe with its decor, so don’t be surprised if you end up spending most of the day here wrapped up in a book with a latte in hand.  With plenty of outlets (even out on the patio during the summer), Jimmy’s has your work needs covered, come rain or shine. Supplying expertly crafted Americanos and famous coconut milk lattes, Jimmy’s has personable service, is student friendly, and keeps their customers coming back for more.

Jimmy’s Coffee, 191 Baldwin Street, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 647 352 5466

Jimmy's Coffee

Courtesy of Jimmy’s Coffee

Almond Butterfly

Gluten-free? Dairy-free? Almond Butterfly is the place to be. Not only are the cupcakes and pastries some of the most drool-worthy in the city, but this joint looks after those with tighter dietary restrictions that have limited options at other cafes. Very close to Robarts at University of Toronto, this spot is excellent for a quick caffeine or sweet fix while you work. Almond is home to some mouthwatering vegan baked goods; try the chocolate chip cookie dough cupcake or the paleo lava cake.

Almond Butterfly, 100 Harbord Street, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416 792 7994

Almond Butterfly

Courtesy of Almond Butterfly

Voodoo Child Espresso and Cocktail Bar

The University of Toronto, like Ryerson, has no shortage of cool spots to hang out. Voodoo Doll, beyond its cool name, serves up delicious drinks.  Whether you are looking to kick back with a yummy cocktail when the cafe becomes a bar at night or trying to get some work done with a side of impressive latte art to admire during the day, the easygoing environment of Voodoo lets customers have both experiences. Heavy-hitters at the Canada Latte Art competition in 2014, Voodoo offers unique food and drink items on the menu, including bourbon espresso and apple pie stuffed French toast.

Voodoo Child Espresso and Cocktail Bar, 388 College Street, Toronto, ON, Canada +1 647 748 1011


Merchants of Green Coffee

Love open space concepts? How does 3,000 square feet sound? Welcome to Merchants of Green Coffee. Known for preparing coffee with 100% green and premium arabica beans grown organically in the rainforest, Merchants roasts each bean and fills each cup with care. While the coffee is some of the freshest in Toronto, the space offers roasting demonstrations throughout the day and gives off a rustic feel, especially when you see their long, wooden tables. Though this location isn’t too focused on food, it thrives on simplicity when it comes to great coffee.

Merchants of Green Coffee, 2 Matilda Street, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416 741 5369

Merchants of Green Coffee

Courtesy of Merchants of Green Coffee


Cafe Pamenar

This lovely little spot with nice long wooden bar tables is another hot spot in Kensington Market. Right off College, many recommend Cafe Pamenar for its stellar coffee and espresso, communal tables, and overall good vibes from a diverse crowd. If you like to nibble on something as you work, Cafe Pamenar has some interesting goodies to choose from, such as their earl grey cookies and artisanal paninis. Better yet, they open up their patio in the summer, so that their beautiful view can complement their yummy drinks. Seating is limited here, so be sure to go in earlier in the day to secure a good spot to work. Patrons are asked to close their laptops at 8 pm, so it’s the perfect opportunity to put your work away and enjoy one of Pamenar’s lovely evening concoctions.

Café Pamenar, 307 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 647 352 3627


Dark Horse Espresso Bar

Exposed brick? Check. Free WiFi? Check. Excellent coffee? Check. With several locations spread across different areas in Toronto, it’s safe to say Dark Horse Espresso Bar is a staple in the city. The spacious atmosphere, chill ambiance, and nice big tables can accommodate plenty, and it is well-known as a great place to bring a book or laptop to get to work. With delicious and interesting pastry combinations to complement your beverage of choice, like the potato scallion scone and chocolate beet muffin, you won’t go hungry.

Dark Horse Espresso Bar, 215 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416 979 1200


The Rooster Coffee House

Lattes are everything. If you like your espresso done right, The Rooster Coffee House is the spot to visit for students venturing east. Their almond milk and tea lattes are often named as some of the best in Toronto. With its excellent view of the city skyline, Riverdale Park across the street, comfy chairs, a communal table, and unique decor inside, The Rooster Coffee House guarantees a relaxing experience and a productive work session.

The Rooster Coffee House, 479 Broadview Avenue, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416 995 1530

Courtesy of The Rooster Coffee House

Courtesy of The Rooster Coffee House