Yes, rest assured there’s some good brew in the Northeastern Ontario and in this BIG MUG coffee roundup, I sniff out and sip beyond the 100+ Timmies’ to find you coffee houses with fresh-roasted, fairly-traded drips of joy. I’ve hunted for roast masters who are registered licensees of TransFair Canada—or source their coffee from suppliers who are—and, best of all, who offer you a coffee house atmosphere perfect for connecting with friends and family.
Let’s talk coffee consumption for a minute. I recently went to World Juniors Hockey in Helsinki. Much to my surprise, I discovered that Finland actually holds rank with the highest per capita coffee consumption in the world. We Canadians, with an almost identical climate, fall below 12th on many of the coffee statistical listings. I would dare to assert that Northeastern Ontario itself could be in the Top 5.
Let’s start in North Bay where for over 20 years, Twiggs Coffee Roasters has been offering a modern, speedy and fresh roast to North Bay residents and tourists. I chatted with operator Laura Twigg, who tells me that patrons can smell the roasting beans from blocks away. During the process of roasting beans, the subtle aroma will change as the beans are roasted from light to dark. Initially as the green beans are roasted, there is a noticeable grassy scent followed by a sweet fragrant one. As the beans darken the scent changes to a slight burnt sugar with a toasted nut character. So if you are strolling the streets in North Bay, you’ll be lured into Twiggs by the scent. And if you’re rolling down the highway, their McKeown location is uber convenient—it’s where I stop on my trips through. They have a 3rd location in Sturgeon Falls where you can dock the boat to the Minnehaha Sturgeon Falls Marina. I would also like to mention the incredible value—I mean, like, where you can get an 8oz mug of in-house roasted coffee and BLT for $5?! YES, just like the picture above.
Sudbury is home to a handful of coffee shops, and I was delighted to include newcomer Kuppajoes Press Bar into this article before we published. They are the freshest on the block, located at 109 Larch Street South. While strolling downtown Sudbury, you’ll want to stop in and enjoy the warm sunny atmosphere. Old Rock Coffee Roasting Company is legend in Sudbury, probably the first roasters to hit the scene. Since 2004, Carole and Luc have been importing green beans, roasting and making custom cups. They operate a bustling coffee house at 212 Minto Street in Sudbury, featuring a big variety of imported beans and flavoured coffees. They’ll be your personal “Sommelier de café”, which means they are trained and knowledgeable coffee professionals who specialize in matching your taste buds to the right coffee.
Salute Coffee (5 mins from the 4 corners) in the south end of Sudbury is another newcomer to the coffee world. They call themselves “the place to chill out and reset your bearings.” They exclusively serve PILOT coffee, which is a Toronto-based roaster who works directly with the coffee farmers in order to develop relationships that create a better future for everyone involved.
Fromagerie Elgin a popular spot among locals, if you are in the mood for a bright open space where there are communal tables and cheese boards, and where not a single chair is the same. There maybe a live Jazz performance while you sip your cap—this is definitely a welcome space to hang out.
Let’s head farther north to the City of Timmins, the Heart of Gold City where we find Christopher’s Coffee House located 35 Pine Street, who proudly celebrate nine years this May. They specialize in seasonal lattes, cappuccinos, drip coffee, and flavoured shots of caramel and vanilla which are very popular. They source freshly roasted beans from our friends at Twiggs in North Bay. Be sure to drop by Friday nights for live Jazz music.
The Coffee Warehouse on 214 Third Avenue is another great spot for a cappuccino. They also boast a fresh juice bar and organic fresh products, so if you need to stock up your cooler for your adventure tour through the Northeast, remember the Coffee Warehouse for some grub and supplies too.
I hope this BIG MUG roundup finds you fulfilled with some of the best coffee houses in the region. I must admit that I’m still looking for a barista artist who can create a pine tree design out of milk foam! If you find one, please share your discovery with me and tag it #foodsbynature.