A premium selection of coffees with tempting savoury and sweet fare to match.
Attention to detail and design is evident in every aspect of Neo Coffee Bar—from the moment you set foot inside and are warmly greeted from the coffee counter, to the soft pendant lights and wood touches that help create a cosy atmosphere, to the cushy leather benches and made-in-Japan denim aprons and totes spotted throughout the café.
Bruce and Masashi are two of Neo’s owners. Bruce oversees the brewing aspects of the operation, while Masashi is mostly responsible for the sweet and savoury creations. Masashi is a former pastry chef who, among many other things, has worked at Toronto’s famed Nadège bakery; Bruce, a U of T alumnus with a background in the arts, left his graduate studies to pursue his passion for coffee. He is also a podium winner in the “Canadian Latte Art” competition.
Each month brings a rotation in the featured brews at Neo. This month, the feature is 49th Parallel, a B.C. company, with single-origin brews from Kenya, Honduras and Ethiopia. Neo strives to work only with roasters who do direct trade with the farmers. Pour overs, unlike batch brews made for quick consumption, are brewed per serving to bring out the individual flavours of the coffee. Before the grounds are added, hot water is poured through the filter to create a seal and to remove any residual paper taste. Single-origin coffees are often less bitter and more flavourful than blends, and it is best to drink them with no accompaniments that might mask the delicate flavours. The perfect cup of coffee is a complex balance between the weight of the coffee and water, the temperature of the water and the output weight of the water, extracted to the ideal degree. The brew I’m offered, from the Santa Barbara region of Honduras, has a slightly fruity taste.
And it’s not all about the coffee. Delicious sandwiches feature seasonal ingredients as well as bread from the fabulous Blackbird Baking Company. Among the baked goods, the roll cakes deserve a special mention. Delicate sponge cake, made in-house with organic flour and eggs, is rolled around various fillings such as roasted soybean cream and white chocolate. This treat makes the perfect end to a relaxing visit.
Staff: Ariel Litteljohn
Ariel is often on the hunt for tasty bites, whether it be a flavourful tomato found at a local farmer’s market, peppered pomfret at a restaurant in Mumbai or takoyaki devoured on a small street in Osaka. Her accompaniments of choice are her husband, David, and their young daughters, Freya and Lumen.
Neo Coffee Bar
161 Frederick St., Unit 100, Toronto | 647-348-8811
Open: Mon–Fri 7 am–7 pm • Sat–Sun 8 am–5 pm