– review and photos by Sonia Stastny
I fell in love with The Common long before I even started writing about coffee, about two years ago when I was visiting Toronto for the first time. Spending all of my Canadian residence in the mild, wet, chilled-out Vancouver, I was enthralled right away with the buzzing energy of the eastern city, the casually confident, ambitious, no-nonsense attitude everyone seemed to exude. Coincidentally, I was staying a block away from this famous establishment, and although I visited the place on several occasions, I fell into its neighbourhood-hangout charm at my very first cappuccino. I was in love. (Okay, maybe the apple pocket pastry had something to do with it…)
Place: The Common
Location: 1071 College Street (near Dufferin), Toronto, ON
Ambiance: uber-hip; beautiful worn décor with vintage objects and assorted pictures (a headshot of Bill Murray among them), the weathered bar adorned with a handsome retro Elektra machine in ivory and mint green, big wooden benches along commune tables.
The rumour has it that the morning line-up is 30 people long, yet at every visit I witnessed small groups of patient regulars in friendly hushed conversations, languid hipsters leaning against the wall sipping their espressos, and the unhurried exact movements of the barista.
The café uses beans from Dark City and Classic Gourmet Coffee; the pastry selection is small but exquisite, and comes from the Pain Perdu bakery, though if you want to try the famous apple “pockets” (my term), you need to come before noon (weekends only). Since my first visit, the café has graduated to an evening menu as well (starting at 5:30), consisting of cheese and charcuterie plates and wine.
Coffee: impeccable cappuccinos every time – $3, espresso $2 (lower mid-range overall).
Wireless: yes, but there is not a single electrical outlet