I’m sure by now, you’ve gathered how much Peter and I enjoy coffee. Brewing coffee is a fun hobby for both of us, but we also love to experience the unique, fun and new cafés in the city together. This past weekend we visited Boxcar Social in Summerhill (right across the street from the subway station) that has been open for about 10 months.
I love the name “Boxcar Social” which is meant to tie in with the history of the area. The current LCBO across the street used to be an old train station and the CN railway runs nearby. Also “box social” was the name for parties held in the early 1900’s, often used as a place where young people would have the chance to socialize and meet new people. That is one of my favourite things about Boxcar; I think they have successfully recreated this “social” vibe that feels like you are at a friends house, or social gathering of some sort. Everyone is friendly, and conversation seems to flow so easily.
The space itself is large, although not at first glance. The bar area is shallow, but long. The staff are interacting so much with the patrons that I don’t think it would work any other way. Near to the back is small space with industrial furniture, seating and lots of light. Behind that is the outdoor patio, which is closed this time of year, but I hear is one of the best in Toronto. Lastly, if you are looking for a quiet space or are attending with a large group – the upstairs is surprisingly large.
Boxcar doesn’t roast their own coffee but rather, they have a rotating model where they change their menus each week to highlight different high quality roasters. They also provide tasting flights, one of the best features for sure! The flights feature 3 of their featured brewed coffees. As well as a flight of a particular bean (in our case Ethiopian Borboya from George Howell) created in 3 ways; an espresso shot, a macchiato and a pourover. It was an amazing way to taste coffee, each method seemed to highlight the different aspects and flavour notes of the bean which tasted like lavender and lemon. George Howell by the way is pretty much a coffee-legend if there is such a thing, and he is credited with single-origin coffees and fun things like the Frappuccino (his company was purchased by Starbucks in the 90's). You can find his coffees here.
Just as a note, although I am focusing on the coffee – Boxcar also serve some of the top wines, craft beers, scotches and bourbons. Their “whisky tango” flight features two espressos and 2 bourbons. They are also open until 2 am on the weekends.
Peter and I love the idea of the flight so we each ordered one and sat down. They took about 5 minutes to make and were brought over to us by the manager, Taylor who explained all about the beans, what flavour notes were in it, how to drink them and what we should expect. It was extremely thorough and enlightening and actually really fun. Later he came by to ask us how we enjoyed the coffee and we asked him several questions, which he really took the time to answer. He pulled up a chair and chatted with us for several minutes – even calling one of the owners when he couldn’t answer a question himself.
I felt like this is probably something that happens often here though. That’s just what happens when people genuinely love what they are doing.
As I’m sure you can tell this has been one of my favourite cafes so far and I would definitely recommend it. Although for me the coffee was secondary in terms of what I liked here, it was still pretty great. The flight was a lot fun and Peter and I had a good time trying to figure out what flavours stood out and how different each method was. If you are in the city (or on the subway) make a stop here for sure! For more info about them click here.