Starbucks just feels a little outdated for novel writing, doesn't it? But having a velvety cappuccino and an atmospheric environment can really help inspire the weary writer. Over the years, Toronto has seen plenty of inspirational cafes open up that are the perfect novel writing alternative. Here are our top picks:
Balzac’s Coffee, 1 Trinity Street, Distillery District
A long-time favourite since 2002, there’s a reason this location has been such a popular spot for both novel writing and weddings alike. This historic site – complete with industrial-chic exposed bricks and Vaudeville chandelier – can transport you to a whole other era. The building does, after all, date back to 1895. Whether you’re writing a Victorian romance or an Eat, Pray, Love-inspired trope, you’ll have plenty of other-worldly inspiration here. Just come during the weekday to avoid the crowds.
Dark Horse Espresso Bar, 125 John Street
Sure, you can head to the bright and airy Dark Horse on Spadina, just north of Queen, but what fun is that when you can hide away in its little basement sister on John Street? This cafe is easy to miss, which is a blessing considering its cozy size, but the trademark tin-tiled ceiling and red brick walls are all there. Granted, it can still get pretty busy during peak caffeine hours, but most folks are just in and out, making it an ideal spot for people-watching and getting inspiration for a range of characters for your novel.
Early Bird Espresso, 613 Queen Street West
With spot-on coffee and plenty of delicious sweet-tooth selections to keep the blood sugar up, this might be the best place for a marathon group writing session, if you can seize the giant communal table near the front. Having been open less than a year, Early Bird might not be the most original in design (hello again, industrial-chic), but this style works well for a reason. And if you’re not coming with a group, there are still plenty of nooks and crannies to hide out while you type away.
Moonbeam Coffee, 30 St. Andrew Street, Kensington Market
As Kensington got more and more gentrified, Moonbeam adjusted. They expanded to accommodate the increasing clientele, including adding one of the best back patios in the city. And with spring in full bloom, there is no better place for doing some outdoor writing while enjoying the carefully selected coffee they’re known for. It’s a great spot for letting your mind wander while drafting an inspired story arc.
Hotel Gelato, 532 Eglinton Avenue West
If you don’t want to venture downtown for a novel writing session or industrial isn’t your thing, this sophisticated cafe on Eglinton is a good bet. They take inspiration from the European-style cafes of London and Paris, but with a contemporary twist; the dove grey walls are so lovely with the monochrome Victorian-style armchairs and plastic ghost chairs, you’ll feel like a regular modern-day Jane Austen. It will put you in a perfectly relaxed mood to let the creative juices flow, making it one of the best places for writer’s block.