In the heart of the Bloorcourt neighbourhood is Contra Café at 1028 Shaw St. Beloved by locals for their flavourful house-baked pastries and wrap-around sidewalk patio, the café is open Monday-Friday 7:30am-5pm and Saturday-Sunday 8am-5pm.
Contra Café is at the corner of Shaw and Yarmouth, two blocks south of Dupont. Embracing a minimalist look, the coffee shop’s exterior and interior can be simply described as white brick with black accents. Paired with their marble countertop and droplights, the café has a cool and modern elegance to it.
In my visits to the café, I’ve found the baristas to seem just as cool as the space itself. That being said, as a neighbourhood hot-spot, you can feel the locality and overall laidback vibe when you visit, so there is no pretentiousness to worry about.
Although I cannot speak much on the café’s indoor dining (I visited when restrictions were still in place across Toronto), Contra’s wrap-around patio was popular amongst café-goers. Hosting around 6 tables suitable for 2-3 people each, the patio was nearly full when I visited on an early morning weekday.
(If you’re unable to get a seat, head to Garrison Creek Park, a 6-minute walk away)
Contra Café offers a wide menu of coffee, tea, and apple cider-based beverages. They carry all the coffee shop favourites, including rarer items like red eyes. Coming with kids? They even sell juice boxes!
Drinks range from $2.20-$6.82. Hot and iced drinks are relatively the same price. Alternative milks (oat/almond/soy/lactose free) will cost an additional $0.65. Flavour shots will cost an additional $0.55.
I ordered a standard iced latte on my visit, and it did not disappoint: the strongness of the espresso balanced perfectly with the creaminess of the milk.
Want to brew their coffee at home? Contra sells a 340g bag of their house blend for $16.50.
Baked Goods + Food
No visit to Contra Café is complete without grabbing one of their housemade baked goods. With rotating flavours and options to choose from, expect treats like croissants, cookies, brownies, scones, muffins, loaves, etc.
I opted for the ham and cheese croissant, banana hazelnut muffin, and apple gruyere scone on my visit and I would recommend them all! The croissant was buttery and perfect for breakfast; the muffin was incredibly moist but still had a great crunch with the nuts; and the scone was my favourite of the three because of its unique flavour and texture. I’ve heard great things about their brownies as well – with how much I enjoyed my baked goods, I’m sure I’ll be back at the café soon to try more.
There are options for different diets. Baked goods range roughly from $1.65-$4.25.
As for food, Contra Café offers breakfast sandwiches and housemade granola with Greek yogurt for $5.50 each. They also offer other options, like salads from Donna’s.
HOW TO SUPPORT THEM
Along with visiting Contra Café for your next coffee date, other ways to support the business include following them on Instagram, or buying merchandise like their apparel or kitchenware. You can buy select merchandise in-store or online.
Contra Café is beloved by locals for their wide menu, housemade baked goods, and wrap-around sidewalk patio. Open 7 days a week at 1028 Shaw St, Contra Café has a minimalist look that seamlessly blends elegance and modernity without feeling pretentious. As a local hangout, the café patio may be full on your visit; if so, I’d recommend grabbing your coffee to-go and enjoying it at the nearby Garrison Creek Park. When it comes to ordering at the coffee shop, you can’t go wrong with any of Contra’s espresso-based beverages. Drinks range from $2.20-$6.82 and the menu has something for everyone. No trip to the café is complete without getting a baked good to accompany your drink. Baked on-site, expect a variety of fresh and flavourful options to choose from, including: croissants, cookies, brownies, scones, muffins, loaves, etc. Contra also serves heartier options like breakfast sandwiches, granola + yogurt, and salads. Support Contra Café by visiting them on your next coffee date, following them on Instagram, or buying their merchandise.