Curious Travels: The Grand Detour of 2019 | Coffee & Tea in Toronto

While in Toronto, I made it a point to visit as many coffee and tea (matcha) shops as I could. My sister provided me with a “hipster coffee fund,” so I had a bigger budget and didn’t need need to skimp out of the coffee. YAY.

Since there were simply too many coffee shops in Toronto, I couldn’t visit everything on my list. (My sister gave me a list of recommendations, and I searched for highly rated coffee shops online.) I didn’t realize until I got there that Toronto was so big. Oh well, I guess I just need to keep coming back.

Here are my favorites from the trip:

Arvo

Located in the Distillery District, Arvo Coffee has a nice space and a great brew. Coffee prices aren’t too expensive either. I enjoyed my cup so much that I bought beans to brew at home after.

Goldstruck Coffee

I have loved Goldstruck since I got introduced to it last year. This is my go-to coffee spot in Yorkville. Although the coffee here is on the pricey side, a bag of beans costs pretty much the same as anywhere else—any other specialty coffee shop, I mean. If it’s your first time here, I suggest trying out their regular brewed coffee, and if you decide you’re a fan, buy their beans. I love their beans from Peru and Colombia. The former is nice and light, and the latter tastes like chocolate.

Neo Coffee Bar

Located in St. Lawrence Market, Neo Coffee Bar not only serves coffee but also matcha—and it’s good matcha. (Don’t let the picture fool you; the barista that prepared the drink was still new and didn’t know how to make a pretty latte yet. While the drink wasn’t aesthetically pleasing, it was still very good.) They also serve pastries, some of them seasonal. The cake was so good that I wanted a second slice…

HotBlack Coffee

A cool spot on Queen Street West, HotBlack Coffee didn’t disappoint. Their coffee went down smoothly, and their pastries were delicious. What else do you need? (Oh, no wifi here. And it was a bit crowded when I was there.)

Haute Coffee

Haute Coffee is a cozy local spot in the Annex. When I was there, I noticed that the baristas seemed to know most of their customers, and the customers talked to each other even if they were at different tables. Coffee is good, and this was where I tried my first butter tart. Yum.

Little Pebbles

One of my favorite neighborhoods to visit for food was Kensington Market. Little Pebbles is a very unassuming coffee and matcha shop there. I tried their matcha latte, and it was really good. (Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as one would think to find a place with a good matcha latte.) I would come back.

Piedmont Coffee Bar

I think this was a new spot when I went to Piedmont Coffee Bar. Located in Church-Wellesley Village, this was a nice spot to work and/or unwind. I went here a couple times because it was close enough to Bloor-Yonge, and I could stay in and read my books.

Icha Tea

OK, so I bought bubble tea from Icha Tea, but this shop really specializes in tea. Even their bubble tea was made of freshly brewed tea—using real tea leaves and not those powdered or syrup alternatives—so I fell in love. Since this is high quality tea, even the take out bubble tea is priced at a premium. It’s worth a try though. I am a big fan. Try it if you’re walking along Spadina in Chinatown.

San Francisco: Coffee & Tea in the West Side

Recently I found myself in a slump. At my lowest, I was binge-watching shows during the day (a sunny one, mind you) instead of taking nice walks around the city. So, in an effort to be productive one weekend, I packed up my kindle, my Moleskine, and my Swell bottle (am I proving to be too millennial? How about too SF lifestyle?) and walked to a nearby coffee shop—away from the tv.

I love exploring the city and finding new spots. My favorite kind of spot: coffee & tea. What makes me like a certain spot? Well, for reading, I have three parameters:

  1. Taste: If I can finish the drink I ordered, we are good. I’m not the pickiest person, but sometimes I just have to accept that I don’t like something.
  2. Space: Are there enough tables? Are the tables big enough to set my drink and my kindle plus my notebook and pens (and pencil case)? Is there enough space that I won’t feel ashamed of staying too there long?
  3. Relief: Please tell me there’s a restroom and that it’s clean because I will be sipping on my beverage(s) and will eventually need to relieve myself.

The fourth parameter is Connectivity i.e. wi-fi availability, but I don’t usually bring my laptop to coffee shops, so consider it a bonus, a cherry on top (although I hate preserved cherries on desserts), if they do have wifi. That said, I don’t think I’m asking for very much especially if I’m being charged ~$5 per beverage.

Here’s a list of some cozy and possibly underrated coffee shops in the west side in case anyone else is also in a binge-watching slump like me:

Continue reading “San Francisco: Coffee & Tea in the West Side”

Top 3 Spots from Toronto Trip #3

So a few weeks ago, I went to Toronto again. It was my third visit in a span of one year. In fact, I spent my Toronto-versary there! Wow, maybe I should just move. Fun fact: people have asked me if I moved to Toronto. I have not, but I do have my favorite spots. Also, I love that Toronto’s not really a touristy city, so I never feel like I have to go to so-and-so place (except for Trattoria Nervosa).

Here’s my top 3 from trip 3:

Continue reading “Top 3 Spots from Toronto Trip #3”

M. Manila & the places my tummy loved

So central is food in Filipino culture that the question, “Kumain ka na ba?” (translation: Have you eaten yet?), deserves a top 3 spot for frequently asked questions in the Philippines. Filipinos love their food — rightly so, because there is definitely something magical about food in the Philippines.

It seems that a Filipino pastime is to go out to eat at good restaurants regardless of cuisine (meaning: not necessarily Filipino food). Metro Manila is popping (my fave word of the moment) with amazing restaurants. Disclaimer: If you are interested in drooling over pictures of traditional Filipino food, this is not the post you are looking for. However, if you are open to appreciating amazing non-traditional food in the Philippines, here’s a list of my favorite spots (as of January 2018) in Metro Manila:

Continue reading “M. Manila & the places my tummy loved”