Coffee shops are and have been the escape from all the hustle and bustle, especially in a city like Toronto. It’s not a surprise that Toronto has an abundance of quaint and charming independent coffee shops all over the city, and Queen Street West happens to be one of the top spots. Whether you’re in the mood for a cuppa, or down for a treat, here are 10 of the best coffee shops to explore on Queen West.
You know a coffee shop is well-loved when they branch out into different locations. White Squirrel Coffee Shop recently opened a location in Rosedale, but don’t forget about their original Queen West haunt. One of Trinity Bellwoods most loved caffeine enablers, White Squirrel offers an array of no-nonsense organic, fair-trade coffees. Hungry? You’ll find a range of snacks, including muffins, sandwiches, and their infamous empanadas. Most importantly, White Squirrel serves Greg’s Ice Cream, otherwise known as ‘the happiest ice cream in the world.’ With its cozy space, communal table and wooden interior, White Squirrel does not fail to make you feel at home in such a quaint location.
As if Queen West couldn’t get any more trendy, Early Bird Espresso gives you that instant hip gratification with its exposed brick walls, industrial lights, and a touch of wooden decor thrown into the mix. Aside from the aesthetics, Early Bird offers excellent coffee, especially their expertly steamed lattes. Find the perfect caffeine accompaniment with their quality Italian-inspired sandwiches, (think prosciutto, mozzarella, pesto and more), as well as snacks and chocolatey goodness. What makes Early Bird even more delightful is their rooftop patio, perfect for sipping an Iced Americano while chatting with friends on a sunny afternoon.
Red Eye Espresso, located across OCADU, is the perfect get-away before, after, or between classes. Their delicious espressos and almond lattes earn this place an instant thumbs up, but it’s the assortment of baked goods – from ginger molasses cookies and nutella chocolate chip cookies to banana bread – that make Red Eye a must-visit. Channel your inner child with the paper and pencil crayons Red Eye sets out, allowing visitors to doodle and express their imaginations. With artwork displayed on the walls and cute knick-knacks, Red Eye is definitely a student’s sanctuary.
What is better than an afternoon of shopping? An afternoon of shopping in a store equipped with a coffee bar awaiting your arrival. Before you even step foot into Lavish&Squalor, you are immediately drawn to the all-black exterior of the building, and it only gets better from here. Lavish&Squalor stocks a bit of everything; home decor, antiques, clothing, candles, and knick-knacks you didn’t think you needed. And of course, coffee. The establishment boasts of a beautifully designed coffee bar with an impeccable selection of beverages, offering everything from hand-steeped iced tea to strong espresso shots. For those cold brew coffee lovers, Lavish&Squalor takes it up a notch with their Station Cold Brew Coffee; in its well-designed glass bottle, it’s the perfect drink to grab on the go. With its unique interior, beautiful wares for sale, and coffee supply, Lavish&Squalor is an experience for all.
Who doesn’t love an old-fashioned retro diner or coffee shop? Little Nicky’s Coffee is just that, with a subtle spin. Rather than brightly colored booths and stark black-and-white tiled floors, Little Nicky’s sticks to a nostalgic retro vibe, with muted, earthy tones. Besides falling in love with the interior design, you’ll soon find that the coffees aren’t so bad either. Their espressos are a house blend, which makes them taste even sweeter, and their iced coffees are just as fulfilling and not too creamy. The reason why Little Nicky’s is so well loved is partly due to their infamous sugary mini doughnuts that are freshly made right in front of your eyes.
If you’re looking for a quiet place to enjoy a latte accompanied with a book and free WiFi, then The Roastery Coffee House on Richmond is the place to visit. With its second location on Richmond St, (the first being on Liberty Village) The Roastery is a great escape to indulge in a variety of beverages, including hot chocolate and apple cider. Make sure to go there on an empty stomach; The Roastery has a substantial lunch menu, providing a selection of gourmet bagels, their baked western omelette, as well as soups and sandwiches. A bonus are their lighter options that cater to those on a health kick, as they offer yogurts, freshly made salads and organic smoothies. Situated in the Entertainment District, it’s only fitting The Roastery kicks it up a notch by serenading visitors with live performances. There are plenty of seats, so don’t hesitate to drop in.
For design lovers, Red Star Cafe is not only a grand coffee experience, but it’s also a treat for the eyes. Situated inside Design Republic, a trendy furniture store, Red Star lures in customers with their coffee bar. Their coffees are quite the catch, using Reunion Island Sumatra coffee blend, along with espresso-based cappuccinos and lattes. The real winner, however, is their selection of organic smoothies, offering choices such as banana, mango, and mixed berry. Along with an assortment of baked goods like their delicious butter tarts, Red Star provides a pleasant shopping experience while indulging in a perfectly made latte or smoothie.
It’s a given that coffee lovers get tired of the same old lattes, cappuccinos and Americanos. If you’re looking to expand your coffee repertoire, look no further. Sense Appeal Coffee Roasters gives off classy coffee shop vibes with its unique and signature blended coffees and minimalistic, rustic interior. If you’re willing to try new things, Sense Appeal offers eclectic treats starting with their Turkish latte, the dulce de leche latte and the cioccolata calda (Italian-style hot chocolate). As well as their unique blends, they also feature exceptionally made espressos, flavored lattes and French presses, using beans from around the world, such as their Panamanian, South American and African beans. Of course you can’t forget their mouth-watering baked pastries, like freshly made brioche and scones. If you’re ever planning to treat yourself, you know where to go.
Looks like it's closedHours or services may be impacted due to Covid-19
Minimalistic and open-spaced — that’s what RSquared Cafe is all about. A modest cafe with clean lines, wooden surfaces, and artwork adorning its walls, it’s no wonder coffee lovers set up shop with their laptops and an excellent cup of coffee here. RSquared happens to cater to adventurous latte lovers, offering beverages such as the Spanish latte, the pink latte and their infamous matcha latte. You’d be crazy not to try their scrumptious baked goods.
Looks like it's closedHours or services may be impacted due to Covid-19
Niche Coffee and Tea Company is a triple-threat – it not only offers gourmet coffees and teas, and in-house baked goods, but it’s also invested in a good cause. Niche is affiliated with Hawkins Institute. Founded by Niche’s owner Gail Hawkins, Hawkins is a specialized employment program for adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Niche Coffee began as an apprenticeship program to help those with ASD to work and gain vocational skills. It evolved into a stellar coffee shop – with their Niche wild-grown teas, Toronto neighborhood-inspired coffee blends, caramel-chocolate flavored ‘Kensington Market,’ and much more. With their premium roast coffees made with love, baked goods made with organic ingredients, and their altruistic, compassionate core mission, there’s no reason not to visit.