Milky's Coffee is small in size but big on design

Custom wood-paneled space offers a rotating menu of specialty drinks on Dundas West


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The masala chai ($5) with heavy notes of cinnamon and cardamom

Milky’s Coffee opened its doors on Dundas West in early February, and the stunning custom interior of this “design-forward” café is already drawing in mesmerized passersby. Nearly everything you see in Milky’s is the result of owner Fraser Greenberg’s collaboration with a Toronto-based artist, roaster, baker, or architect.

“We really wanted to do something Canadian,” explains Greenberg, “which is hard because it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what ‘Canadian style’ is. But when you live in a place your entire life, there is some sort of quiet collaboration between yourself and the place you come from that will result in something interesting. So that’s what we’ve done here.”

The custom wood-paneled design of Milky’s was created by Greenberg, who is also the owner of wood flooring company Relative Space, in collaboration with local architectural company Batay-Csorba. The lighting has been designed to mimic circadian rhythms in order to create the illusion of natural light, and even the cups are carefully matched with their drink to create a deliberately calming tactile experience.

“The moment someone goes into a coffee shop is such a good opportunity to put them in a good mood,” explains Greenberg. “Most of the time, you probably got up earlier than you wanted to, probably got on a streetcar that’s busier than you wanted it to be, and it’s probably darker out that you want it to be. I started to think about what a coffee shop might be able to do to compensate.”

The current lineup of specialty drinks, which rotate seasonally, include a delectably ambrosial debut: the Chinatown fog ($5). A twist on the classic London fog, this drink starts with a tea base called “Spadina Blend” from local Pluck Tea, and hosts notes of lychee, lemongrass, ginger and coconut.

The next signature drink is the delirium latte ($5), which is a twist on the turmeric lattes that have been enjoying North American popularity recently. The ginger syrup blends beautifully with the spices and a single shot of espresso to create a frothy and delightful experience.

The last signature drink this season is a twist on masala chai ($5), with heavy notes of cinnamon and cardamom. Milky’s decision to carry oat milk makes for some of extremely smooth (and vegan friendly) drinks, and its interaction with the masala blend is beautiful.

All of the baked goods are from local favourite Forno Cultura, and the medley of sweet treats here range from $1.50-$5 and currently include pistachio almond and chocolate hazelnut biscotti, lemon and chocolate shortbread, crushed almond and chocolate hazelnut bark, and a black currant and pistachio biscotti that is finished with a sugar glaze. The treats will always represent seasonal ingredients, and patrons can look forward to a very unique tasting experience that Milky’s plans to offer in the spring.

While you won’t notice much colour or branding anywhere (even the coffee bags by Landscape Coffee Roasters are sold in nondescript white bags) the place feels animated and warm, something Greenberg likes to call “loud minimalism.” Especially in this season’s gloomy onslaught of winter weather, Milky’s is a welcome refuge for weary Torontonians searching for a bright spot.

Milky's Coffee, 760 Dundas St. W., 647-408-2442

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