Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cafe Novo

Cafe: Cafe Novo
Address: 1986 Bloor St. W.
Phone: 647-350-3538
Store Hours: Mon-Fri 7 AM - 7 AM, Sat 8 AM - 7 PM, Sun 9 AM - 6 PM
Website: www.cafenovo.ca

Wi-Fi?: Yes
Study Appropriate?: Yes
Stamp Cards?: No



Drinks - Soy/Almond/Lactose-Free?: Soy and almond
- All organic
- Coffee beans roasted in Guelph

Food - Vegan/Vegetarian/Gluten-Free?: Vegan and gluten-free
- Sells only snacks, with gluten-free options, made within the cafe fresh daily
- Sells vegan cookies

Latte, $3.80


Drink of Choice: Regular Latte au Miel, $3.90

Located in High Park, Cafe Novo is a popular place for locals to hang out or do their work. When I was there from 10 AM until 4 PM on a Saturday in order to catch up on my school work, I realized there was no shortage of customers coming in and out at every hour. A lot of cafes tend to die down at certain times of the day, but this one was busy throughout, which I found most impressive. There was also a front patio, great for those summer days to enjoy the scenery of the park.

The cafe sells local art as well. They generally sell art pieces from a couple of different artists, having them on display for a couple of months before switching them up. When I was visiting, they were selling inked art by Matt Smart (which I was unable to find a website or link to) and handmade art from Butterfly Tree (www.butterfly-tree.com).

So what is my take on the cafe? I'm not a huge fan of the decor past the counter since I am a keener for aesthetically pleasing interior. However, I do like the seating area at the very front because it gives a nice view of High Park (second image). I think it's cute that one of their walls has a blackboard for customers to doodle and write on. There are also some board games and books in the corner at the back for people to enjoy.

I happened to get a latte au miel for this visit. The difference between a latte and a latte au miel is the espresso is poured over the honey in order to change the taste. It definitely gave a hint of sweetness, which I liked. And the one thing that always stood out to me about the cafe is the fact they have a jug of mint water, haha.

Cafe Novo on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Abbott

Cafe: The Abbott
Address: 99 Spencer Ave.
Phone: 416-876-3855
Store Hours: Mon-Fri 6:30 AM - 7 PM, Sat-Sun 7 PM -7 PM
Website: www.theabbott.ca

Wi-Fi?: Yes
Study Appropriate?: Yes
Stamp Cards?: Yes



Drinks - Soy/Almond/Lactose-Free Options?: Yes to all 
- Organic and fair trade coffee
- Resiprocate is the supplier
- Sells different kinds of soda, juices, and spritzers; Blue Sky
- Syrups extra for 75 cents: vanilla, hazelnut, caramel, strawberry, pumpkin pie

Food - Vegan/Vegetarian/Gluten-Free Options?: Yes to all
- Plenty of different snacks available
- Gluten-free macaroons from Desmond and Beatrice
- Vegan peanut butter banana muffins
- Vegetarian sandwiches available
- Dairy-free squares
- Fruit and meat pies: pear, apple, mixed berry, chicken, and beef

Double Shot Cappuccino, $4

Latte, $3.25


Choice of Drink: Double Shot Latte, $4

I previously went to The Abbott this past year and fell in love with it. I love how it is nested under a steel staircase, tucked away on the side street. Considering the horizontal space of the cafe, I really like how they maximized and decorated the space. It has such a homey feeling to it.

There is a large wooden table, which allows for any group work or a crowd of three or more to enjoy their coffee. There are also 5 small round tables, which only holds up to two people. This cafe has a much more intimate atmosphere though, perfect for catching up with an old friend or have a date. 

So for my second trip to The Abbott, I was prepared to get the information I needed for this review. I got to communicate with the friendly barista, Dylan, who answered my questions regarding their menu. When I chose the double shot latte, I forgot to asked for latte art, something I love to get if a cafe does it. Dylan was sweet enough to make me a fresh latte on the house to attempt on designing a heart (the latte in a white cup under the menu section). So you could say that night I was very well over-caffeinated with two cups of lattes. The double-shot latte was bitter in the beginning on the first sip, but immediately was fixed with three spoonful of brown sugar.

I was there for a good couple of hours, working on my homework. The Abbott is a neighbourhood cafe, therefore, I noticed a lot of patrons being familiar with each other. I really enjoy how The Abbott has such a welcoming feeling to it. It's one of the few cafes I intend to return to if Indie Coffee Passport no longer existed.

The Abbott on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

RISE Espresso

Cafe: RISE Espresso
Address: 107 Mutual St.
Phone: 416-895-4611
Store Hours: Mon-Fri 7:30 AM - 6:30 PM, Sat 9 AM - 5 PM, Sun 10 AM - 4 PM
Website: www.risecafe.ca

Wi-Fi?: Yes
Study Appropriate?: No
Stamp Cards?: Yes



Drinks - Soy/Almond/Lactose-Free Options?: Almond and lactose-free (coconut milk alternative)
- Types of almond milk: original, chocolate, vanilla and can be sweetened or unsweetened
- Serves with organic milk
- Serves organic juices
- Serves Fentiman's botanically-brewed beverages
- For the fall season, serving: organic hot apple cider
- Rise Espresso's specialty drink: Canadiano (americano made with coconut milk)

Food - Vegan/Vegetarian/Gluten-Free Options?: Only gluten-free at the moment
- Serves Pow Cookies (gluten-free option; made from brown rice powder) from Desmond and Beatrice
- Snacks available
- Lunch options, such as paninis-to-go and salads, will be launched in winter 2012 with vegan and vegetarian options!

- Bring in new customers to receive freebies!

12 oz. Canadiano, $2.50 with coconut milk + $0.50


Choice of Drink: Tea Latte, $4.75

When I first found out about RISE Espresso last winter, I was excited to try it out. At the time, there were little independent cafes on the Ryerson campus (Bull Dog Coffee anyone?). However, I failed trying to locate the cafe twice during the winter (which I went late at night both times). It was only later in broad daylight that I found the tiny cafe nestled among with the other buildings, located behind the Ryerson's engineering building. 

Immediately walking in, RISE Espresso gave off that grab-and-go vibe, considering the limited amount of sitting space and the size of the cafe itself. You could read a novel by the window if you'd like but to be able to pull out a laptop and a couple of textbooks would be a no-no. Taking a look at the menu for the Indie Coffee Passport holders, I decided to take a shot at their tea latte, never having such a drink before. 

While I was asking the barista, Michael, some questions on the food and drinks they served for this review, the owner, Dominik, happened to stop by. I learned that Dominik was a Ryerson graduate in 2001 for film and always wanted to open a cafe. He wanted RISE Espresso to be a place for the Ryerson community, where his focus was on quality, consistency and customers. 

Seeing that RISE Espresso had only snacks, I asked Dominik if there would be any food options soon. Julie Daniluk, a nutritionist who co-hosts for Healthy Gourmet (a reality cooking show), happens to be the co-owner of RISE Espresso. The plan is to create some nutritional salads made with locally grown produce, that will also cater to vegans and vegetarians alike. Dominik's wife, Jenny, likes to make exotic food that will be incorporated for the paninis-to-go, which will be rich in flavour and a chockful of goodness. The salads and paninis are estimated to be around $5 each, hopefully to be introduced in winter 2012. 

I look forward to the food addition, which will be great for hungry students who need to buy something quick for class. RISE Espresso is also having an awesome promotion, where if you bring in friends who are new to the cafe for the first time, you are able to earn freebies! For example, bring in two friends and you can get a free latte. Or if you bring in ten people, you can get a pound of coffee beans, snacks and a drink! (These are examples I made on top of my head, so don't take my word for it. You'd have to negotiate with the barista). Now, who doesn't like free stuff?

Lastly, back to the tea latte. Honestly, it was not my cup of tea because it turned out to be quite bland for my taste. I think I dumped about five spoonful of brown sugar and some vanilla sugar into my drink before satisfied. I think I will try their Canadiano next time, their specialty drink, which is espresso made from coconut milk! 

Updated (Nov 16/12): I was invited back to Rise Espresso to try out a sweeter drink when I didn't find the tea latte to my taste. It was quite generous of them! I decided to take a shot at their specialty drink, the Canadiano (check menu section), which I was eager to try (I like things that are exclusive!). 

I'm personally am not an Americano drinker because I'm more used to lattes. Canadiano was a different taste because it has that kick of coconut. It was not overpowering though and I think for anyone who would like a twist in their regular Americano should give Canadiano a try! 

Rise Espresso on Urbanspoon