I can't quite put my finger on a defining characteristic, though I can confirm that the latte art (which I believe, after conducting a bit of research, should actually be termed "microfoam art") spotted at any of these locations surpass Starbucks by far.
While I generally found that it was best to rely on major, tried-and-true chains in the suburbs, I must admit that this theory applies in reverse to the general metropolitan Toronto area.
Starbucks never ceased to provide me with a sense of familiarity whenever I was travelling within North America – though please do yourself a favour and don't ever visit their Asian counterparts. However, I've found that their standard, sugar-laden options have constantly failed to impress as of late.
(Side note: I recently found an infographic classifying coffee drinkers by their preferences in caffeinated beverages. And with mochas being my most common choice, I'll have to grudgingly admit that the creators are, indeed, correct.)
Are there customers that visit coffee shops to order drinks void of espresso and tea? Indeed, there are – you're reading a post written by one of those strange creatures.
On the morning of my first visit, I had already consumed the necessary dosage of caffeine to ease the woes of my morning struggle; thus, I opted for a tongue-scalding cider.
The return trip to shelter was unbelievably windy, but the cider provided an immediate soothing sensation, making the journey much more comfortable than it initially would have been.
"So you want a mocha?" I was asked cheerfully.
"Yes, but just with a higher amount of espresso than chocolate." was my reply.
The bartender nodded to show understanding, and then asked for my name as he was noting down my order on a cup for the baristas to read and execute; it read "fw, 1/2 choc."
"She wants it half-sweet." declared one of the baristas.
It was at this point that the second barista, who was closer in proximity to waiting spot in line, inquired, "Was it too sweet for you?"
Barely snapping out of my daze, I somehow managed to utter an absentminded "Pardon?"
"You were here yesterday right? You ordered a mocha?" he asked, much to my surprise.
"Yes, in fact. I did!"
I could barely the baristas' faces, yet he remembered my order amongst the unfathomable number of customers' that had walked through the shop's doors. It was an incredible feat to imagine, and I instantly appreciated the extra attention that had been paid to my orders.
Slowly recovering from fatigue, I explained, "No, it's since I'm feeling more tired today, so I want a higher espresso to chocolate ratio."
This made sense to him, and he continued to create the drink as I had requested.
While the previous two visits had been speedier, I had no problems with using my wait time to snap photos of the interior. Had I assumed the role of a businessperson on a short coffee break though, Ritual would have be helpful to have on-hand.
Priced at $2.75 for a half-dozen or $4.00 for the full twelve, I truly believe that there are fewer alternatives that can deliver great, fresh baked goods at such a wallet-friendly price. The donuts were wonderful: a soft, still-heated interior was encased in an circular shell boasting a bouncy crispiness. These sinful little pieces was especially tasty when paired with a touch of sweet sugar dusting and devoured with an extraordinarily accurate order of coffee.
The heart was very cute, and the trail left behind almost made it seem as if the heart was attached to a larger component and was being flown as a kite. Regardless, I loved the both the original mocha formula as well as the caffeine-upped version; both were of amazing quality and possessed commendable flavours of chocolate and espresso.
With such praiseworthy products, friendly service, and a convenient location, I think it's safe to say that Little Nicky's shall continue to be a cafe that I will be frequenting over the next few months, given that weather is decently mild. Perhaps I'll even have enough room to try their rotating selection of baked goods next time!