Let’s face it – we don’t have a lot of good, cheap options for coffee here on campus. Tim Hortons is tried and true but the lines are insanely long, and Starbucks gets expensive if you’re the type of person who needs a daily caffeine fix.
So, where else is there to go?
It just so happens that there is an abundance of “brewtiful” cafés around campus within a fifteen-minute walking radius.
We ventured out to some of these local businesses to see what’s the best cup of coffee for students for under 3$.
For the purpose of this investigation, we tried out a regular cup of drip coffee and an Americano at each shop.
BIG GUY’S LITTLE COFFEE SHOP
2861 Lakeshore Boulevard W.
Mondays – Fridays: 7:30 A.M. – 6:00 P.M.
Saturdays: 8:30 A.M. – 6:00 P.M.
Sundays: 9:00 A.M. – 2:00 P.M.
If you’re looking for some place that feels just like home, look no further than Big Guy’s Little Coffee Shop. The moment you step through the front doors you’re greeted by the exuberant staff, who want nothing but to make sure you feel like you’re at home.
“We opened the shop to build community,” said Jessie Schutte, who works for and helps Steven Turner, the ‘big guy’ who owns the cafe.
They have trivia and movie nights, and have opened up their space to the neighbouring stores. But, what really sets them apart from the rest of the cafes near campus is their wall you can hang your own personal mug on to use whenever you come into the cafe.
On top of their welcoming and homey atmosphere, their coffee is bar-to-none. They get their beans delivered weekly from 23 Degrees, a coffee roastery from North York. Big Guy’s gets 45 different kinds of beans, so there’s something for everyone.
A regular cup of black coffee goes for $2. The taste is smooth and full in flavour. Though not ostensibly bitter, a casual coffee drinker may want to add a splash of milk and sugar.
Americano lovers – rejoice! The prices are the same for a medium and a large cup, which comes to $2.50. The flavour is bold with a defined earthy taste that gets stronger with every sip.
On top of traditional cow’s 2% milk, they have almond and soy milks for those who are dairy-free or vegan.
For study sustenance, they offer bagels, grilled cheeses, and pastries from San Remo and the Happy Baker.
Be sure to bring cash! They don’t take debit, but can take credit with a small iPhone-attached card reader.
3261 Lakeshore Boulevard W.
Mondays – Saturdays: 7:00 A.M. – 7:00 P.M.
Sundays: 9:00 A.M. – 3:00 P.M.
Black Goat is the cafe for you if you want a quiet, cozy place to hang out in. It is a classic spot for Humber students to venture off to, and it is definitely not one to be missed!
If you want to study here, be sure to arrive early or at an off-peak time, as there are few tables to post up at.
They get their beans from TrebilCock, a coffee roaster from Pickering, and they bake all their pastries in house. If you want something more substantial, they offer a variety of sandwiches and salads – which are all the rave with Humber students.
For $2.25, you can get a medium-sized drip coffee of the Cock’s Crow blend. It’s a dark roast, with a chocolate and nutty flavour profile – which you can definitely taste. It gives you the kick that you need, without completely wiring you up before class.
Their Americano – which racks up to $3 – is made with the Wicked Espresso blend, and has caramel and hazelnut tasting notes (again, staying true to its flavour.)
The Black Goat’s to-go cups are by far the best designed, as the thick and textured sleeve is already built-in to the cup.
You will never have to worry about burning your hands on these!
What sets this cafe apart from the rest, is their punch card system. Customers can receive their tenth coffee free – so long as they remember to bring it in and get it stamped each time!
Just a five minute walk from Humber Lakeshore’s A building, it is perfect for a quick caffeine fix before class.
3232 Lakeshore Boulevard W.
Mondays – Saturdays: 7:30 A.M. – 7:00 P.M.
If you are looking for something a little more adventurous, DeCourses Café is the place for you. It’s the newest coffee shop on the block that offers a French and Filipino fusion flare, located right across the street from Humber Lakeshore’s bookstore. It’s a large space filled with booths, tables, and plug-ins – a perfect space for those long study sessions.
“We try to make trends,” said Nick Proulx, the cafe’s owner. “People come here and try new things they’ve never tried.”
And this is certainly true.
You can try a Gothic Latte, which is your standard latte with activated charcoal – a truly Instagrammable treat. Or if you’re craving a bite, there are crepes, sandwiches, and all-day breakfast! We highly recommend their breakfast sandwich with longaniza, a surprisingly sweet Filipino sausage.
They don’t sell “shitty coffee, like Maxwell House” – as Proulx says. They get their beans from Backroad Coffee, a roaster from Mississauga, and also friends of the owner.
A cup of coffee here goes for $2.30. It’s a medium-roast coffee, that has some citrusy notes to it. Casual coffee drinkers may want to add some sugar, or use a splash of their unique oat milk.
For $3, you can enjoy what is arguably the best Americanos in the area. It was the only Americano that Skedline reporter, Brandon Burnett, could drink without cream or sugar. The flavour is bold and rich, without being overbearing or one-dimensional.
Aside from their oat milk, they offer soy, almond and coconut alternatives. They also offer a variety of flavour shots to spice up your lattes.
THE SYDNEY GRIND
2883 Lakeshore Boulevard W.
Mondays – Fridays: 8:00 A.M. – 4:00 P.M.
Saturdays & Sundays: 9:00 A.M. – 4:00 P.M.
If you’re looking for something sleek and modern, with a study space comparable to an IKEA showroom – look no further than The Sydney Grind. Basing the idea off of how Australians like their coffee shops – independent, locally-sourced and family-run – Rima Mograby set up shop six months ago and already has a slew of regulars.
What sets this cafe apart from the rest are their baked goods, which are all made in-house and fresh that morning. From cheesecake bars to croissants, there is a pastry for everyone (even vegans – they have breakfast cookies for you!)
Their beverages are thoughtfully designed to maintain quality and optimal flavour. Some customers – mostly new, and not their regulars – complain about this, but Mograby shrugs it off.
“You can’t please everyone,” says Mograby.
But, we were certainly won over.
Though slightly more expensive than the rest – but still fitting the under $3 budget – you can grab a medium cup of coffee for $2.45.
They get their beans from Toronto’s Propeller Coffee. Their drip coffee is made with Los Pinos Propellor Blend, which has floral, peach and caramel flavours to it. At least that is what the roastery advertises. To an average coffee drinker without a refined palate it is smooth and tastes kind of nutty.
Their Americanos go for $3.50, which is slightly over budget – but by no means breaking the bank. Less acidic than the rest we’ve tried, it’s the perfect cup for those with a sweeter palate.
The Sydney Grind had the most milk alternatives, offering macadamia nut, almond, soy, oat and coconut milk.
They will also be offering student discounts soon – so be sure to keep an eye out!
SO… what’s the best cup of coffee around campus?
Based on flavour alone, we would recommend The Sydney Grind to coffee connoisseurs. Though the most expensive of the bunch, it was the best we tried, with the most complex and full-bodied flavour.
For Americano aficionados, we found that DeCourses had the best overall experience. The taste was pleasantly smooth with a good volume of flavour that did not overpower the palate. The price is within budget, and well worth it to anyone who wants a good brew.