A Tale of 3 Top Coffee Shops in Toronto.

I tried to quit drinking coffee while I was in South Africa. Finding myself over-caffeinated and more fatigued than ever, I thought perhaps quitting the juice was the answer.

It probably was, but I only lasted from sun-up until 4 pm. I just love it too much. I love making it. I love sipping it and sometimes gulping it. But more than that, I love sharing a cup with another over a conversation, and cannot say no to such a chance.

Toronto overflows with coffee shops. Java houses. Or for someone like me, caffeine dealers. I already gave a nod to one newly-discovered source of the sweet roasted nectar, Jimmy’s Coffee in the King West ‘hood. But there were three more shops from which I cannot walk away without shining a little limelight on why they rock the bean.

Number One: THE GREEN GRIND
Location: Little Italy (College and Manning)
Why They Rock the Bean: mostly because they are green. My biggest pet peeve about coffee culture is the use and immediate discard of cups and sleeves. There is little to do about cups unless you bring your own mug, but there is much to do about sleeves. Assuming you don’t spill and splash your coffee down the side of the cup, the coffee sleeve is perfectly reusable. You can, and you should. Just remove it, put it in the bag you carry most often and reuse it. Given that this would be a soapbox I stand on, the Green Grind would be a shop I patronize. They are LEED-certified, serve only fair trade and organic coffee, tea and food, use biodegradable cups and lids, give you a discount for using your own mug, and more to enable close-to-guilt-free consumption. They also have yummy baked goods and free wifi. Plus the space is fabulous, open, bright and full of light and features a mural by Paul Leli. (Don’t know who Paul is? Educate yourself here.)
Are They Social? Yes, you can find the Green Grind on Twitter @The_Green_Grind and on Facebook here.

Number Two: SENSE APPEAL COFFEE ROASTERS
Location: The Fashion District (Spadina between Adelaide and King West)
Why They Rock the Bean: mostly because they roast their own beans and then painstakingly extract the perfect shot of espresso. In all kinds of tongue-tempting flavors, no less (I went with an almond-infused Americano of some sort). The owners and head barista at Sense Appeal take their beans seriously and treat the distinctions in sensation and flavor no differently than a sommelier would a glass of wine. They too have yummy baked goods, eats and free wifi. The shop is small but I adore the high-ceilings, bright windows, exposed brick and simple decor that keeps the focus on the coffee.
Are They Social? Yes, you can find Sense Appeal on Twitter @SenseAppeal and on Facebook here.

Number Three: CASA ACOREANA CAFÉ
Location: Kensington Market (Augusta and Baldwin)
Why They Rock the Bean: mostly because of their price and location. The coffee was simple and great. But I loved this spot because even their largest coffee barely cost more than a dollar. They fix it right in front of you at a modest serving window, and you can sit either in the counter inside (wide open to Augusta outside) or on the benches that run the length of the building along Baldwin. “Café,” as it's also called, fulfilled my need to engage with others while drinking my cuppa joe. I spent my morning sitting on the benches, chatting with a new friend about advertising, life, Toronto, travel and the history of Kensington as we watched all walks of Toronto life pass before our very eyes from one of the best people-watching perches in the market.
Are They Social? I don’t think Casa Acoreana is on any social media. Not that I can find. If anyone can correct me, please do and share in the comments!

I still haven't quit that roasted, caffeinated nectar. And after South Africa's failed attempt and Toronto's provision of so many delicious options, I don’t believe I will try again anytime soon. So, if you’d like to share a cup, let me know. In the meantime, may I recommend that Torontonians or those who plan to visit the T-dot-O give one of these three a try, and let me know what you think.

Have a different favorite coffee spot? Please, do tell…

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