11 Best Cafés to Work From in Toronto

11 Best Cafés to Work From in Toronto

In one of our recent articles we focused on the pros and cons of working from home. Everyone can agree, it's more comfortable at home, there is less pressure, less small talk, less distractions (and more food!).  Not to mention that a lot of professions, such as writers, graphic designers, marketers, don't need an office space to work from and people doing these jobs are quite often freelancers. This means their work is mostly done from home, but what happens if they just can't focus there and they need to be surrounded by people to work?

There are a few options available, one of them being co-working spaces, created specifically for professionals who don't have an dedicated office building.

Another, very popular option, at least in Toronto, are coffee shops. Fortunately, Toronto has great coffee shops on every corner, so all they need to do is choose. To make it easier, we've done some research and chosen 11 best coffee shops to work from in Toronto, where the coffee is strong and the WIFI even stronger. 

Make sure you have enough battery on your laptop, plug it in if you need to, grab a cup of joy and read on. 

JET FUEL COFFEE

Address:519 Parliament St
Phone:416-968-9982
Website: jetfuelcoffee.com
Hours: Mon-Sun 6am-8pm

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This Cabbagetown staple has been rolling along now for 24 years, and shows no signs of slowing down. Founded by former bike courier, pastry chef and bike shop owner John Englar, and sporting a distinct cycling vibe, Jet Fuel started out as a catering truck back in the late 1980s. It also sponsors one of Canada's longest running cycling teams.

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Located at Parliament and Aberdeen, they serve up delicious espresso drinks on their Faema espresso machine, with beans sourced from Classic Coffee, who make a unique roast just for them. This unique blend, Jet Fuel Coffee, is being sold at this location for the first time this year. I go for an Americano, served up in a tall glass, and it's a steal for $3.

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The well-worn hardwood floors, red walls and stainless steel surfaces give Jet Fuel Coffee a quasi-bohemian feel, while a multitude of pot lights and stainless steel hanging lamps provide a warm glow throughout. The exposed brickwork at the front of the café near the large picture window has a gigantic steel atlas hanging from it, which reflects the sunlight streaming through from the enormous picture window out front. A rotating display of local artwork graces the walls.

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Jet Fuel Coffee is an ideal place to bring in your laptop and get going on that project you've been putting off for a while. The lively music wafting from their sound system is turned down low enough so it's not too distracting.  There is an abundance of seating and the wifi is excellent, but there aren't that many outlets available, so make sure your batteries are well charged.

PROS:

  • great coffee
  • enough seating space
  • excellent wifi

Prices:

  • $3 for an Americano
  • $1-2 for baked goods 

CONS:

  • not enough outlets
  • kind of dark

Music:

  • not distracting

MERCHANTS OF GREEN COFFEE

Address: 2 Matilda St, 
Phone: 416-741-5369
Website: merchantsofgreencoffee.com   
Hours: Mon-Fri 8am-6pm, Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 10am-6pm 

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Situated in an old jam factory just east of the DVP (Don Valley Parkway), Merchants Café provides patrons with a gorgeous view of Toronto's signature skyline. Started up by Morgan Yew and his four friends and business partners, this Matilda Street establishment has been delighting the city's coffee lovers for over 20 years. All of their 100% Arabica bean roasts are certified fair trade and organic. This includes their "pride and joy" Café Solar, a Honduran roast they've been working on with coffee growers from that region for the past two decades, and their newer initiative to obtain fair trade organic product from Rwandan coffee growers.

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On any given day, they have three such coffee roasts available, in addition to some fine espresso beverages, churned out on an older Victoria Arduino copper plated espresso machine. A cup of their daily drip coffee will set you back $3.15. You can also buy their wide selection of beans, on display on one of the old factory’s rolling carts. That, combined with a wide array of older style coffee making accessories on display around the interior, provides a nice vintage touch.

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The large wooden harvest tables and comfortable chairs provide the perfect space to sit and get some work done for an extended period. The cafe has wifi, and many electrical outlets to plug in your devices. Over the hubbub of other guests' voices, I couldn't hear any music playing in the background.

PROS:

  • great coffee
  • great views of the Toronto skyline
  • enough seating space
  • excellent wifi & enough outlets

PRICES:

  •  A cup of drip coffee $3.15
  • Americano $2.85
  • Cappuccino $3.35

CONS:

  • kind of hard to find if you're not from TO

MUSIC:

  • there was no music

DARK HORSE ESPRESSO BAR

Address: 215 Spadina Ave
Phone: 416-979-1200
Website: darkhorseespresso.com 
Hours: Mon-Fri 7am-7pm, Sat-Sun 8am-7pm    

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With five locations across the city, Dark Horse Espresso bar has been serving up tasty espresso at their Spadina Avenue location for the past eight years. The location used to be an art studio and, before that, a plumbing factory. The exposed brickwork, well-worn wooden floors and visible pipes along the ceiling certainly give this place a very cool vibe. A La Marcozza espresso machine is displayed prominently and churns out their numerous available drinks, all written on a large chalkboard behind the counter.

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One of the baristas, Sarah, suggests I try the French press coffee, of which there are seven varieties that day. I try the San Sebastian, which has notes of chocolate and grape, and it is indeed delicious. It costs $3.45 and is served in a tall glass. A whole slew of baked goods look tempting from behind a glass display case, while packaged coffee and T-shirts are for sale on the back wall. They use beans from Detour Coffee and 49th Parallel to create an irresistible coffee treat, their own in-chain baked goods (from their Geary Avenue location), cold brew coffee and fresh juices.

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Dark Horse Espresso is an ideal place to kick back, enjoy some great brew and get some serious work done. The music over the speakers is conducive to this. There is ample seating available in the front section with two large harvest tables, and a small bar area with stools. Visible beyond the front counter on the second level are even more tables and chairs for their patrons. There is wifi, but only a few electrical outlets to plug in.

PROS:

  • cool vibe & helpful staff
  • good coffee & baked goods
  • enough seating space
  • ok wifi

PRICES:

  • French Press coffee $3.45
  • Americano $3
  • Cappuccino $3.33 
  • Pastries from $2.86-4

CONS:

  • only a few outlets

MUSIC:

  • isn't distracting

FAHRENHEIT COFFEE

Address: 120 Lombard St
Phone: 647-896-1774
Website: fahrenheitcoffee.com
Hours: Mon-Fri 7am-6pm, Sat 8am-5pm, Sun 9am-3pm  

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Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit, the German scientist who invented his namesake temperature scale, would surely have loved the exquisite coffee that comes from this Lombard St. mainstay that's also named after him. Formerly down on the Esplanade, it has occupied its current location at Lombard and Jarvis for the past four-plus years.

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Owner Sameer Mohamed and his staff have done a great job of cultivating an establishment with great coffee, freshly baked treats made on-site and a very cozy atmosphere. While the coffee was excellent, a Kenya Weithaga with citrus notes recommended by barista Sabin, it isn't an ideal place to sit and work. They do have wifi and an adequate number of electrical outlets, but only seating for about six people. Even if you did get a seat, I would think you'd feel a little guilty staying there any appreciable length of time, and taking up room for newer patrons. The music percolating in the background is pleasant and not distracting.

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In addition to drinking their coffee and coffee drinks, you can also buy their excellent beans, sourced from Leslieville's Te Aro ($11 for a 1/2 pound bag, which also gets you a complimentary Espresso or Americano with purchase).

PROS:

  • great coffee & baked goods
  • cozy atmosphere
  • enough outlets, okay wifi
  • if you buy their coffee beans, you get complementary coffee

PRICES:

  • Drip coffee $1.75-2.25
  • Espresso - $2.60
  • Americano $2.60-3
  • Ginger Molasses cookie $2

CONS:

  • seating space for only about 6 people

MUSIC:

  • pleasant and not distracting 

BLACK CANARY ESPRESSO BAR

Address: 61 Sherbourne St
Phone: 416-301-7633
Hours: Mon-Fri 7am-7pm, Sat 8am-5pm, Sun 9am-5pm

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The Black Canary Espresso Bar at the corner of Sherbourne and Adelaide

Situated at the corner of Sherborne and Adelaide Streets, Black Canary Espresso Bar was opened by Luthie Lampa and Mark Gringas nearly six years ago. Previously known as Bisogno Espresso Bar, this "little café with a big heart" has become a neighbourhood staple in its own right.

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The Black Canary Bar
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Comfortable seating and plenty of light

The Black Canary offers up a full slate of espresso based drinks from their La Marcozza machine, drip coffees, teas and fresh juices. A couple of daily specials include a caramaple latte and Nutella hot chocolate (among others), and they all look incredible. Looking for a drip coffee, however, barista Mark suggests the dark roast from Bolivia, which is sensationally rich and satisfying. They also sell their beans, from Detour Roasters, including their very own Black Canary blend. There is a small selection of fresh baked goods on hand to vanquish any hunger pains while you sip your coffee.

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Daario Naharis also comes to work here when he's not protecting the Mother of Dragons
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Art on Display

This is a great place to work for couple of hours or so. There is ample seating, including a large harvest table, several smaller tables, a bar area and two coaches. The wifi signal is strong, and there are enough outlets to plug in your laptop or charge your other devices. There was no background music I could discern. Several picture windows look out onto the hustle and bustle of Sherbourne Street, while allowing plenty of natural light in. A large palm tree in the corner, a record player with ample vinyl selections and a bookshelf filled with great reads and board games gives the place a homey, welcoming feel. A funky vibe is given by the lime green ceiling, while the white walls feature a wide array of work by artist Lynn Leonard. Black Canary Espresso Bar is located at 61 Sherborne Street, just south of Adelaide.

PROS:

  • great coffee & baked goods
  • enough seating space
  • enough outlets, strong wifi
  • plenty of natural light

PRICES:

  • Drip Coffee $1.45-2.15
  • Espresso $2.85
  • Various baked goods $2-5

CONS:

  • none, we loved this place

MUSIC:

  • there was no music

CAFÉ PAMENAR

Address: 307 Augusta Avenue
Phone: 647-352-3627
Hours: Mon 8am-8pm, Tue-Thu 8am-12am, Fri-Sat 8am-2am, Sun 8am-12am

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Located in Kensington Market, just south of College Street at 307 Augusta Avenue, sits Pamenar Café, a coffeehouse opened by Pouria Lotfi five years ago. (Augusta Avenue, between Bathurst St. and Spadina Ave.) A plethora of espresso drinks and coffees are available with beans from Hale Coffee Company. The Americano pulled from their La Marcozza espresso machine is sweet and flavourful, strong enough to keep you working without a blip all afternoon long. A great deal at $3.They also offer up a variety of other coffee beverages, baked goods, sandwiches and their famous Steak Tartare on Tuesdays.

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A large space behind the counter features the artistry of local photographers and other creatives. The paintings of Marcella Calderone are currently on display. The white walls, concrete coffee bar and floor, antique signage, and exposed bulb lighting make for a bright and utilitarian coffee experience. Large rolling windows at the front and back let in scads of sunlight, and can be opened right up in the warmer weather.

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An absolutely enormous wood bar, a few small tables, two communal tables, ensures you'll find a place to sit and get some work done. Free wifi, ample natural light, and adequate electrical outlets make this a great place to stay a while and finish that report for your boss. The background music is pleasant and conducive to work and conversation. They have a no laptops rule after 8pm, so if you're there into the evening, you'll need to get your work done before that, unfortunately.

PROS:

  • delicious, strong coffee
  • lots of seating space
  • excellent wifi
  • okay prices
  • enough electrical outlets
  • serves alcohol

Prices:

  • $3 for an Americano

CONS:

  • no laptops after 8 pm

Music:

  • background music is pleasant

THE TAMPERED PRESS

Address: 256 Crawford St
Phone: 416-534-9739
Hours: Mon-Fri 7am-8pm, Sat-Sun 8am-7pm

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Taking its name from the coffee appliance used to compress espresso before pulling a shot, The Tampered Press Café has been open now for six years. The brainchild of Caitlyn Zannoni, a former personal trainer and nutritionist, this cafe has felicitously combined a health focused food and drink establishment with a traditional coffee spot.

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Seminars and organic homemade sandwiches mix with the delightful coffee from Classic Gourmet. Succulent baked goods beckon from the front counter. Their Crema Caffe espresso machine is hard at work churning out lattes and cappuccinos for the midday clientele. The barista, Caitlyn, suggests I try the dark roast, a blend of five different beans including Kenyan, Columbian and Tanzanian. It is smooth and satisfying and I happily plunk down $2.25. With a good wifi signal, ample natural light, wood tables and chairs to poke away on your laptop for hours, and enough outlets to keep charged up, the bright and airy space ensures you'll be golden. 

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There's also a small table with a pitcher of free water by the front entrance. The exposed brick and dark grey walls, along with the wood floors really creates an office away from the office feel to keep you charged up too. The photography of Paris-born Toronto artist Lionel Tissot lines the walls. They also have a great view of Trinity Bellwoods Park right across the street. Classic rock selections play softly in the background.

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PROS:

  • great coffee
  • okay prices
  • good wifi
  • lots of natural light
  • enough seating space
  • enough outlets
  • free water

Prices:

  • $2.00-2.62 for an espresso
  • $3.19 for a cappuccino
  • $5.97 for a sandwich

CONS:

  • seating is a little too "communal" if you like privacy 

Music:

  • classic rock plays softly in the background

RSQUARED CAFE

Address: 668 Queen St West 
Phone: 647-344-8558
Hours: Mon-Fri 7am-8pm, Sat-Sun 8am-7pm

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Sequestered on Queen West, just west of Bathurst St., R Squared is named after its two owners, Reza and Reza, and has been offering up amazing coffee on its Nuova Simonelli machine since 2011. Their beans are provided by Social Coffee and Tea Company. Unfortunately, they don't serve drip coffee after noon, so I got an Americano for $3 which was rich and flavourful.

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White and pale yellow walls create a bright airy feel, while the artwork of local artist Chloe Danielle Marson and a multitude of foreign movie posters adorn the walls. The wifi was good, but there aren't a lot of outlets so you'll want to make sure you're fully charged when you go. There is plenty of seating at small two person tables, while a generous bar area at the back provides even more space, with an enormous golden framed mirror on one wall making it seem even bigger.

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With the minor inconvenience of the limited electrical outlets, this is a great place to work for a while while you enjoy your coffee. The music playing is quiet enough for work or a chat with your seat mate. 

PROS:

  • good wifi
  • good coffee
  • okay prices
  • plenty of seating
  • delicious pink latte

Prices:

  • $3 for an Americano
  • $3.33 cappuccino

CONS:

  • limited outlets
  • no drip coffee after noon

Music:

  • quiet enough to work or chat

CRAFTED BY TE ARO

Address: 983 Queen St East 
Phone: 416-465-2006
Website: pilotcoffeeroasters.com
Hours: Mon-Thu 7/7:30am-6pm, Fri 7am-6pm, Sat 7:30-6pm, Sun 8am-6pm

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Formerly the Get Real Café, this great find at 135 Ossington (at Argyle St.) has been open for six years, and was established by Jesse and Andy Wilkin. This pleasant café capitalizes and continues on their café success in Leslieville. With beans from Pilot Coffee Roasters, and their Simonelli espresso machine buzzing with activity, the barista Brett recommends their dark roast, a Kenyan Ichuga blend. It was delicious and excellent for $2.25. This is also the home of the famous cold drip coffee, which can take up to 8 hours to make, and costs $4 for 6 ounces. I've heard people actually call ahead in advance for it. They also carry a good selection of coffee and tea for sale, as well as their respective accessories.

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There's a modest patio out back with a garden that is used to full effect in the nice weather. White walls, weathered wood floors, and lots of antique pictures and mirrors adorn the walls, creating a nice homey feel. Large windows and windowed doors in the front and back bring in lots of natural light, while the front window also rolls up garage style in the summer, opening the place right up to the outside.

There is space for around 20 people with a large harvest table, bar area and several smaller tables. It's a great place to work for a little while, but the relative lack of space might make you feel guilty staying more than an hour. The background tunes are a little loud to really concentrate as well. The wifi is good and there are ample outlets.

PROS:

  • great coffee
  • okay prices
  • good wifi
  • plenty of light
  • enough outlests

Prices:

  • $2.25 for espresso
  • $4 for 6 ounces of their famous cold drip coffee

CONS:

  • limited seating

Music:

  • a bit too loud

EARLY BIRD ESPRESSO AND BREW BAR

Address: 613 Queen St West 
Phone: 647-348-2473
Website: earlybirdespresso.com 
Hours: Tue-Sat 8am-12am, Sun-Mon 8am-7pm

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If it's true that the early bird gets the worm, then it'll also get some fine coffee at this stalwart Queen Street West café, which does indeed open up early in the morning. Bani Taghaboni and Farshid Sahami unveiled their new café creation three years ago, and have not looked back. Procuring their beans from Pilot Coffee Roasters, they also sell said beans, an small assortment of baked goods, chocolate bars from and coffee accessories. The barista, Simon, suggests their daily roast, a Kenyan Chorongi, was a little bitter but nonetheless tasty. It'll set you back $2.40 for a medium cup. Their La Marcozza espresso machine is constantly churning out their various coffee drinks, from lattes to Americanos.

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Space is good, the seating they have is comfortable, the wifi is strong and there are enough outlets to keep your laptop from taking an unscheduled e-nap. A large neon sign that reads "Early Bird" on the wall is ready to remind you if you forget where you are. Not a chance of that in this fine café.

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The white walls, a scattered assortment of plants, exposed brick and ceiling pipes, industrial style lighting fixtures, and ample natural light from the cavernous front window makes Early Bird a pleasant place to spend an hour or two on your latest project. The music playing over the speakers does not preclude getting work done. 

PROS:

  • fine coffee
  • okay prices
  • comfortable seating
  • strong wifi
  • enough outlets
  • plenty of natural light

Prices:

  • $2.40 for an Espresso
  • $3.50 cold brew iced coffee
  • $3.75 cappuccino
  • $3 croissant

CONS:

  • no parking
  • it's a challenge to find it

Music:

  • not distracting

REUNION ISLAND

Address: 385 Roncesvalles Ave, Toronto, ON M6R 2N1, Canada
Phone: +1 905-829-8520
Website: Reunion Island
Hours: MON-FRI 7am-5pm, SAT-SUN 8am-5pm

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Great internet connection, great coffee and enthusiastic owners.  Reunion Island serves top-notch coffee its parent company Reunion Island Coffee Roasters imports from all over the world. The founder and chairman Peter Pesce is two-times past Chairman of the Coffee Association of Canada. With that in mind, you know you are getting the good stuff.

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What is more, Reunion holds numerous certifications in eco-friendly, sustainability and preservation associations. The most notable one being B Corporation Certification that holds the company to high standards of social and environment performance.

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PROS:

  • excellent coffee
  • strong wifi
  • plenty of natural light
  • modern and aesthetic

Prices:

  • $3.00 for an Espresso
  • $2.25/$2.75 filter coffee
  • $3.75 cappuccino
  • $2.75 benchmark

CONS:

  • can seem overpriced to some

MRVLML

5 Responses

  1. Yana

    TANGO PALACE!!! 1156 Queen St E. I like working late into the night so I love coming here. Open till 11pm!!

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