I don’t drink coffee. I mean, I do occasionally, but I don’t down three cups a day like the usual U of T student. My coffee consumption is all about looking busy or having something to do with my hands. I can stand outside a lecture hall sipping on a Tim Hortons double-double while scrolling through my Instagram and Twitter feeds and look as though I’m being productive. Walking to lecture with a coffee in your hand gives meaning to your stride.
I like to think my taste buds are at least mildly refined, though, and that I can tell the difference between gas station sludge and a crisp Starbucks roast. But other than that, I know next to nothing about coffee. Most coffee is bad coffee to me. A good cup of coffee is dependent on factors other than just the taste. Everything from the ambience of the café where I bought the coffee, to the number of electric outlets available in the café can dictate my coffee-drinking experience. This week, I paid a visit to two student-run cafés on campus, Caffiends at Victoria College and Café 059 at the Daniels faculty. To determine which café is better, I allocated points based on a variety of factors.
Caffiends: Puns are great! 3 points.
Cafe 059: Edgy, has an aura of subtle sophistication, but it’s simply not a pun. 1 point.
Is the café popular?
Caffiends: Yes. Far too mainstream. Might even be most popular student-run café on campus. 0 points.
Cafe 059: You probably haven’t heard of it. It doesn’t seem to get much traffic either. 1 point.
Is the café pretentious?
Caffiends: Very cozy, despite its popularity. 2 points.
Cafe 059: They don’t serve regular filtered coffee; only espresso-based coffee. Plus, their furniture consists of old coffee appliances. 0 points.
How much does it cost?
Caffiends: $1. That’s cheaper than Tim Horton’s and Starbucks. 1 point.
Cafe 059: $1. It’s a draw. 1 point.
How does it taste?
Caffiends: Not very strong, but it doesn’t leave a bitter after-taste. 1 point.
Cafe 059: Likewise. 1 point.
How’s the temperature?
Caffiends: Just right. 1 point.
Cafe 059: Not sure — I think my tongue nerves were too damaged from the Starbucks I had the day before to feel the burn. 0 points.
Is the coffee Fair Trade?
Caffiends: Yes. 2 points.
Cafe 059: Yes. 2 points.
Barista’s political beliefs?
Caffiends: From the conversation I overheard about Donald Trump, I’d say the baristas were pretty on top of their game. 3 points.
Cafe 059: There was some chatter about Toronto and its boroughs, but nothing substantial. 1 point.
What kind of snacks did they have?
Caffiends: Their specialty is the butter croissant: cold and dense, but crisp on the outside. 3 delicious points.
Cafe 059: Bagel with Nutella. I didn’t buy one because I ran out of cash, but I already know what bagels with Nutella taste like anyways. 5 points.
Author’s reservations against café’s college affiliation:
Caffiends: I have a personal and completely biased grudge against Victoria College. Minus 3 points. But Caffiends is a student-run café, so they can have 1 point back for sympathy.
Cafe 059: Neutral. I didn’t apply to Daniels, so they didn’t have a chance to reject me. 0 points.
Availability of electric outlets:
Caffiends: I didn’t see any, but it was early in the day and my phone was doing just fine so I didn’t even need one. 0 points.
Cafe 059: There was one visible, but it was in use. It was also not near my table. And this time I really needed to charge my phone. Negative 1 point.
Is there Wi-fi?
Caffiends: Yes. But it belongs to U of T. 1 point for the administration.
Cafe 059: The U of T network seems to be nonexistent here. An exclusive Daniels faculty network was available, but required Daniels credentials. This became especially frustrating when my phone died. It’s 2016, why is Wi-Fi a problem? Negative 3 points.
Caffiends: 14 points.
Cafe 059: 8 points.
The U of T administration: 1 point.
The winner: Caffiends