The Coffee Lab on Bloor Street. Tosin Maiyegun/The Varsity

The Coffee Lab is in an odd location. Tucked inside a used book store next to the Bata Shoe Museum, the Coffee Lab has a somewhat stuffy atmosphere — not what you would expect in a city full of coffee shops that attract customers with free Wi-Fi rather than good coffee.

The Coffee Lab is located a few steps away from UTSG and caters to stressed-out students and professors. In half the time it takes to get to the front of the line at the Robarts Library Starbucks, owner and full-time barista Joshua Campos can expertly craft an exquisite pick-me-up.

Campos is a graduate of The American Barista and Coffee School in Portland, Oregon, which he describes as the best institution of its kind in North America.

The Coffee Lab currently offers pour-over coffee and espresso that Campos pulls from a gorgeous La Marzocco FB70 machine.

When you first enter, Campos greets you with a smile. He is a diligent and friendly barista with a broad knowledge of coffee beans; when you order a coffee, you’re offered a sniff of the day’s selection. Campos orders different kinds of beans every week, and although he usually stocks up on the locally-roasted, he offers varieties from around the world.

As of now, The Coffee Lab is one of Toronto’s hidden gems. Few people seem to know about it — and it’s no surprise, considering the obscure location — but Campos hopes that the lineups will eventually get longer.

The shop is lacking space for seating and food. Though Campos plans patio seating out front when the weather warms up, The Coffee Lab’s 52 square-foot space is far too tiny for indoor seating.

The Lab currently stocks a selection of brownies and magic bars, which Campos’ fiancée bakes. While both options are delicious, neither are particularly nutritious or satisfying for those in need of a proper meal.

Compared to College Street and Queen Street West, it seems that Bloor Street suffers from a deficit of independent coffee shops. The Bloor area surrounding UTSG is mostly piled with Starbucks, Second Cups, and Tim Hortons.

So the next time you are considering standing in line at the Bedford Timmies, you may want to consider The Coffee Lab instead.

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