On a frigid winter weekend in the downtown core, Neo Coffee Bar was my shelter from the cold. I could see the lineup from across the street, and the people were waiting for good reason - Neo Coffee Bar is one of the best in the city. As I stood in line I watched as the staff worked methodically to brew coffee, serve baked goods, and manage the kitchen through the glass. There wasn’t a vacant seat in the whole café as young parents, studying singles, and café hoppers alike made home of this bustling bar. Although the baristas were working quickly to get orders fulfilled, they weren’t cutting corners. They took an exceptional amount of care crafting each beverage, giving it the attention that it deserves. That’s a big part of what sets Neo apart, and what makes it one of my favourite shops to go to.
Slow and steady
I ordered and waited on a pour over while my wife got a flat white with the feature espresso. Her drink was up on bar first and she was gracious enough to give me a sip. The milk was textured perfectly, and the espresso balanced. I watched as my drink was brewed on the slow bar, poured over a V60 style brewer using a Toronto made Monarch Methods kettle. After about a 4 minute brew, my drink was served in a glass Hario server on a wood board, paired with a preheated mug. In addition to the drink ware, the presentation was made complete with a small information card about the coffee and origin. On this Saturday morning it was a washed Ethiopian from Onibus Coffee of Japan, tasting like a light peach tea. The body was reminiscent of some of the best Kenyans I’ve ever had.
Eclectic light fixtures, raw concrete walls, and artisan leather benches complete the Neo experience making it a unique but comfortable café to spend more than a few minutes in. If you’re looking for somewhere to get caught up on school or work on the weekend though, you may want to choose another spot. Neo is a computer and tablet free zone on weekends, a move towards fostering community and conversation.
Anyone who knows coffee in Toronto will tell you and blogs like BlogTO will agree that Neo is among the best of the best in the big city. That’s saying a lot, and this café truly lives up to its acclaim.
What’s your favourite café in your hometown?
Neo Coffee Bar - http://www.neocoffeebar.com