I was loving Toronto, but the one thing I was missing was a proper coffee. I’d been relying on Tim Horton’s to keep me awake during film screenings, and while it was leagues preferable to Starbucks I got to a point where I just needed a coffee that tasted like coffee, not French vanilla.
I’d noticed Early Bird Espresso & Brew Bar on my walk looking for Grasslands a week earlier, and noted it down as a likely possibility for good coffee. It reminded me of Melbourne cafes a lot, with lots of exposed brick walls, chalkboard menus and LOTS of coffee machines and paraphernalia purring or bubbling away.
I nearly cried with joy at seeing a flat white listed on their menu. It was a very sharp, bordering on bitter initial flavour hit – these are clearly some hefty beans they are using here – but the further into the cup you go that sharpness starts to level out. It never quite gets to a smooth, sedate flavour profile, but hey, at least you know you’re drinking coffee. Also the barista knew how to pour a flat white PERFECTLY, I may have experienced a significant stab of homesickness at the sight.
I ordered myself a little brunch as well – a tomato and soft-boiled egg sandwich with rocket on olive paste sourdough. I couldn’t go past the idea of a boiled egg sandwich, to the point where I bypassed my usual olive trepidation. I normally find olives far too overwhelming, they tend to blot out other flavours for me, but the balance here was spot on, with the toasted olive sourdough nicely coupling with the fresh, lightly salt-and-peppered tomato and thin slices of boiled egg with their creamy yolks.
There’s plenty of pastries and cookies available as well, along with sweet brunch options of yoghurt pots or chia seed puddings topped with a variety of fruits and nuts. While I didn’t notice anything obviously vegan, considering they served a pretty famous vegan a few days before my visit I’m going to guess that they can cover you.
Early Bird is a great spot for anyone hankering for a drop of the good bean, and especially so for antipodeans longing for a coffee that possesses a whiff of home.
Early Bird Espresso & Brew Bar
613 Queen Street West, Toronto
Ph: +1 (647) 962 4204