Toronto Coffee — Balzac’s vs. Dineen

Comparing coffee places while traveling is more tolerable than taste testing donuts, ice cream, cocktails and beer. Thus, I take my coffee intake seriously. Good thing is that all large cities have a variety of coffee places to choose from.

For most Toronto residents, they head to the hundreds of Tim Horton’s, Starbucks and Second Cup Coffee Co. during their morning commute. Others who want to savior their cup in a classy setting, they have a couple to choose from that I visited.

I loved the typography and visual aesthetic at the small Canadian chain, Balzac’s. Founded by a Canadian who was on Dragon’s Den (a.k.a  Shark Tank in the U.S.), the shops take their inspiration from 1920s-30s advertising. Each shop has their own coffee poster art.

Their two-story location in the Distillery District has a retro-warehouse feel while their shop next to the St. Lawrence Market has a classic French cafe style. Both offer their beans to go, so I jumped on their Java Stout beans. Stout equals beer. Hmmmmm.

Besides the cappuccino I ordered, I tried their cold brew with added maple syrup sweetness on nitro. Loved it.


Founded in 2013, Dineen Coffee is a relatively new shop in Toronto. Located in the Financial District on Yonge and Temperance Street, Dineen is where local business people gather when they want to get away from the office.

The space is stunning. It used to be a fur company and is listed as a Toronto Heritage Property . Thus, it’s a popular place even after the morning rush hour. Expect to wait for a stool at the bar or table. If you’re lucky enough to get a space, you’ll linger at the brass and marple while ogling the elaborate lighting fixtures.

When I asked about the beans and flavor notes (yeah, I’m the nerd who asks), they were more than happy to guide me to what I like.

It’s a tough call, but I’m giving Dineen the edge. I liked my cappuccino there because they offered one sized, the way it should be. This would be my go-to place if I lived in Toronto. On the other hand, that cold brew from Balzac is mighty tasty, and you’re more likely to find a place to sit.

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