COFFEE BREAK: THREE MUST-VISIT CAFÉS ACROSS OUR REGION
WORDS & PHOTOS BY CURTIS GRIMBA
REALLY – WHEN IS IT NOT THE PERFECT TIME FOR A GREAT COFFEE? A COUPLE MONTHS BACK, TOQUE CORRESPONDENT CURTIS GRIMBA TOOK TO OUR REGION’S MAIN STREETS AND BACK ROADS TO VISIT THREE OF HIS FAVOURITE LOCAL COFFEE HAUNTS. HIS THOUGHTS?
TAKE A GANDER:
LOST & FOUND CAFÉ
45 W Mill St, Elora
Daytripping to Elora is always a blast, and I am unfailingly eager to visit familiar places and hit new gems in spots close to home. Enter Lost & Found Café – a cozy open-concept coffee spot that has you feel, when you first enter, like you’re stepping back in time. Nestled in a nook of antique shops and boutiques known as the ‘Elora Mews’ – all just steps from the Elora Mill – this sweet destination has a comfortable beat poet café feel to it.
Featuring dark wood floors and finishes, mix-and- match plates and mugs, local artwork on the walls, an eclectic mix of tables and lamps (also a couple guitars), chalk menu boards, and an upstairs loft filled with a couch, blankets, and pillows, Lost & Found’s quirky personality is evident in every corner of the place. It’s the kind of destination where you’ll find writers and artists, cyclists and tourists, neighbours and friends seated comfortably around wooden tables – chatting the day away.
I settle in for the morning and my ears tune in to one of the best playlists I have heard in a while – a mix of Portishead, Bon Iver, funk, and bluesy vibes. Perfect. Pulling espressos on an immaculate machine (provisionally named ‘Constantine’) is a team as adept at baking fresh quiches and other goodies as they are at crafting espressos and lattes. Co-owners Amanda and Kayla are almost always around the place, greeting customers and preparing orders.
The Lost & Found’s breakfast menu isn’t messing about, with a wide selection of wicked sandwiches and breakfast options – including their smoked salmon bagel and ‘hammie sammie’. I’m partial to the veggie quiche loaded with olives, roasted peppers, and goat cheese stuffed into a gluten-free sweet potato and almond crust. And tomato fennel soup. My consort prefers a lighter meal of fresh fruit and Greek yogurt topped with in-house granola – all rounded out with a uniquely-spiced Chai Latte. If you’re stopping in for lunch, honestly go with anything you want; between sandwiches, wraps, and even a vegan burrito, you won’t be disappointed.
What a place to start a daytripping excursion around the equally inimitable town of Elora.
PHIN COFFEE BAR
804 King St W, Hamilton
This minimalist shop of coffee funk is located on the second floor of a small teal building just down the street from everything you’d want to explore in downtown Hamilton. Phin has roughly the square footage of a suburban living room. It’s quaint, minimalist, and approachable – the walls featuring simple and recognizable pop art images. Perfect for a great conversation between customer and barista. And, with a little seating area in the ‘backyard,’ Phin allows you to enjoy your coffee by ordering directly through your phone and – weather permitting – receiving ‘Grade A’ service while seated at a picnic table.
Phin’s proprietor, Andrew Meas, takes a humble and adventurous approach to the selection of beans he works with and sells to his community – changing it up almost daily. I arrive with a coffee friend (a mutual connection between Andrew and me) and coffee shop talk is fluid throughout the visit. Andrew starts by asking what kind of coffee I like, how acidic, and what kind of flavour I want for the type of day it is – bright and sunny with a cool breeze. I make my decision, and Andrew pours me a cup of a daily rotating drip that pleasantly bites the sides of my tongue with hints of cherries and chocolate.
Not only does Phin offer drip, specialty dairy, and non-dairy drink selections, but also top-notch nibbles to go with your coffee or tea. Muffins, cookies, butter tart squares – you name it. After I sip back the drip, I amontoaflatwhitewithanaward-winningespresso bean mix. Directing the steamed silky milk to dance and mix with the pulled shot, Andrew is able to pour the perfect convex meniscus (that nice bubble of foam that sits on the rim of the cup). The pairing of these award-winning beans with a butter tart square is perfect.
Filled to the brim with coffee beans and stocked with equipment for home brewing setups suitable for beginners through to seasoned vets, Phin is currently open for pick up. If you’re looking for a day trip to Phin, I would suggest taking it slow through the back roads into Hamilton where you can revel in the country views. The shop’s bright building serves as a beacon – welcoming you with the promise of good company and great coffee. Take your time while you’re here and ask all the coffee and tea questions you want. The genuine excitement the place demonstrates about the industry will leave you wanting to learn more. Besides a great cup of coffee, you’ll take away a bit more knowledge as to what you like, and what to look for, in your coffee adventures.
RUMBLETUM CAFE & GIFTS
1895 Sawmill Rd, Woolwich
I’ll admit it – I am hooked on anything that makes me feel warm and cozy. Especially when I’m getting coffee. Rumbletum hits all the right notes on any day, as this cottage-like hidden gem located in the hamlet of Conestogo makes me feel like I am getting wrapped up in a blanket every time I stop in. With seating on the front porch – and a borderline-magical secret garden back patio when the weather suits – there is plenty of whimsy and wonder to enjoy when you pause at Rumbletum.
You might start, as I like to, with a latte accompanied by an orange cranberry scone or pumpkin cookie. When I tell you that the scones are the size of your face, take my word, and don’t be surprised (or ashamed) when you finish it on your own. On days when I find myself a bit hungrier, I check out Rumbletum’s rotating seasonal menu hosting daily soups and classic breakfast sandwiches. I like to order a ‘Veg-E’ sandwich, pumpkin soup, and house salad, and, to tie the meal together, a traditional drip. The coffee selection is wonderfully familiar and approachable, making it the perfect drink to go along with anything on the menu.
Not only can you get great coffee and hot beverages, baked goods, sandwiches, and lunch features at Rumbletum, but there’s also a rotating selection of personal and home items – making any stop a multipurpose one. So, having finished my coffee and snack, I check out the giftware and, after browsing through the handmade scarves, mittens, hats, and accessories on the main floor, I make my way upstairs to where I find household accessories, child and baby items, and an impressive selection of board games that keep me occupied for quite a while.
You can lose track of time at Rumbletum, where many customers are met by coffeeshop proprietors Heidi and Quinn Ortmeyer on a first name basis, and where conversation is easy. And an added bonus: surrounded by trails, country roads, and bridges, Rumbletum is a great walking destination, as well as a perfect starting point for exploring a quaint corner of Waterloo Region.