Café Hunting on the Toronto Lakeshore

No matter the weather, finding a nice café to enjoy a good ol’ cup of joe can be one of the small but great joys of life.  The smell of coffee brewing and all the tasty treats baking in the oven can turn any day into a great day.  Toronto has thousands of cafés and coffee joints scattered around the city, but the majority are around the city centre.   They range from spots inside comic book stores to upscale shops with vest and suspender clad barristas.  Unfortunately, the west end of Toronto has often been overlooked for having good places.  Besides the usual Starbucks and Tim Hortons that we see everywhere, unique spots are rare.  However, if you know where to go, you can find a good latte on par (or better) than any establishment you can find in the city centre.

The west end of Toronto is a very large area, encompassing many different neighbourhoods.  As hinted in the title, I am only focusing on Mimico and New Toronto of South Etobicoke which are the main communities of the West End Toronto Waterfront.  I went to two different cafes which are located along the main strip of each neighbourhood, Lakeshore Blvd. West.  There are other cafés in these areas but these two caught my eye and beckoned me in.

Each location is easily accessible by public transit and provides free WiFi to their customers.

Find 1) Birds and Beans Café.  Location: 2413 Lakeshore Blvd. W.

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A cozy spot in the heart of the Mimico neighbourhood with lots of seating inside, including comfy chairs to sit by the window.  They also have lots of seating in the back patio during the warmer months.  The interior is a homely space with lots of natural sunlight, livening up the space.

I ordered a latte with cinnamon on top.  No sugar is needed as the natural creamy sweetness of the milk balanced well with their house blend, Columbian bean espresso.  Their coffee is smooth, full of rich flavour with a crisp aftertaste – containing hints of chocolate and caramel.

I also ordered a Banana muffin, although I should have ordered their chocolate chip cookie as well because it is their specialty.  They have an assortment of baked goods which are all baked on premises as well as an offering of soups and sandwiches.

The muffin was moist with a soft, delicate crumb and full of rich banana flavour.  A sprinkling of pecan nuts allowed a pleasant change in texture as well as complementing well with the banana.

Birds and Beans Café is a great spot for an afternoon coffee and light snack as well as a light lunch destination.  Serving a superb arrangement of coffees and snacks, they will continue to be here for years to come.

Find 2) The Black Goat.  Location: 3261 Lakeshore Blvd. W.

A nice little spot, near Humber College Lakeshore campus serving an assortment of fresh baked treats and an array of different coffees and teas.  The place had a rustic feel and served mainly as an order and go establishment, as seating was limited.  I was lucky enough to visit during non-peak hours and managed to snag a seat by the large bay windows.

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When I walked into this delightful place, the owner was baking a batch of brownies, engulfing the small space in the mouth watering aroma.  Unfortunately to me, and the others who commented on the smell, the brownies would not be ready for hours to come.

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They have an assortment of coffees and teas, as well as freshly baked treats.  For those wanting something more, they have sandwiches and soups.

Despite my lack of brownie (woe is me), I still had my chocolate and coffee fix through other means.

I ordered their Black Goat coffee which is essentially a mocha coffee.  Or, in other terms coffee plus hot chocolate – with whipped cream on top.  Chocolate and coffee always go together, the complemented bitterness, with creamy milk (and actual cream), and a bit of added sweetness.

I also got their pulled pork sandwich, which despite being freshly made, was mediocre at best.  The pork was good, tender and fully coated in their homemade bbq sauce.  Topped with creamy coleslaw.  However, the bun was severely lacking, soft and chewy without any distinctive flavour except the sprinkling of Mediteranian spices on top.  If a better bun is used, this sandwich will be a winner.

Determined not to end my meal on a bad note, I ordered their chocolate chip cookie and was not disappointed.  The right combination of a soft and chewy texture in each satisfying bite, packed with a healthy amount (ie lots) of chocolate chips.

Black Goat is still a great spot for your coffee fix and treats.  I know I will be coming back for my mocha and chocolate chip fix as well as trying their brownie.  They have other sandwiches, so others could possibly be better than the one I tried.  Overall, this place is great for what it is – a unique café with excellent treats.

These are just two places in a very small area of South Etobicoke.  They are great spots to enjoy your afternoon caffeine fix while you read a book or check your facebook status with free WiFi.  Since they are both easy to get to, all Torontonians should make a point to venture to these spots and I am sure you wont be disappointed.

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