Every so often, I visit an inde cafe so great, so perfect, and so complete that I hesitate to even write about it. The moment word gets out, I know I’ll revisit this spot only to find myself scouring for a free table, or waiting in an abnormally long line for my latte. Such is the case with my favorite new hangout, Lit Espresso Bar.
Lit is a cafe dedicated to providing a great atmosphere and delicious coffee for city slickers. With three locations across Toronto, Lit isn’t as undiscovered as I’d like to imagine, but all three of the cafes maintain their local west-end vibe. Owners Nicole and Joe Angellotti opened the original location at 221 Roncesvalles Ave. After one successful year, the couple expanded, setting up shop at 810 College Street, and in 2010, they opened their third location, unconventionally nestled inside the Burroughes Building at 639 Queen Street West.
The College Street Lit seems more like an art gallery than a traditional coffee shop, which explains why the baristas know how to treat coffee like art. I had the soy vanilla latte, which smooth and rich. The ambiance is perfect: thick wood tables, exposed brick, ample seating and (gasp!) free wi-fi!
This is the type of cafe where you can hang out all day: some patrons come for a quick espresso while others set up their laptops and type away the afternoon. My favorite feature of the College Street Lit: the projector screen at the back, which plays anything from vintage black-and-white flicks to Saturday morning cartons. I also appreciate the self-serve drinking water fountain installed at the end of the coffee bar, which allows customers to fill their own water bottles rather than troubling busy baristas.
The Queen Street Location shares its space with a Design Republic, a furniture gallery and REmix, an apparel store. When you visit, don’t be confused about where to sit: the window area at the front of the shop is the cafe area proper, though guests are welcome to sit anywhere in the building and try any of the furniture that’s for sale.