Cafe Culture: Balzac’s in The Distillery District, Toronto

Espresso bars have become a very commBalzac's Coffee in the Distillery District Torontoon fixture in Toronto neighbourhoods, but a lot of them feel boring to me.

That’s not the case with Balzac’s Coffee Roasters, which has one location in Liberty Village and one in the Distillery District. Both are nice spaces that have been around for quite awhile, but it’s the Distillery spot I really dig. It’s in an old building with high ceilings and tons of character. Think exposed brick, a wooden bar with a marble top, wicker chairs, a giant antique looking chandelier, and a staircase to a more private upper seating area. The pastry case, crammed with croissants, scones and glass jars of various cookies, squares and biscotti, is easy to drool over.

And then there’s the coffee, which is rich, bold and always very fresh. Balzac’s uses their own beans, which can be bought for home use, and also offers the usual rundown of espresso-based drinks (cappuchino, latte, Americano, etc.) and a selection of tea from the prestigious Mariage Freres brand from Paris. I’ve never had a bad drink there. Another pro? The takeaway cups are 100% biodegradable and compostable. Plus, they look a lot nicer than Starbucks cups.

The cafes don’t have Wifi, which I assume is a deliberate choice since the space seems much better suited to reading books than reading iPads. It would be nice to be able to do work from there, but I guess it can’t be everything to everyone.

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