Dark Horse Espresso Bar

The Dark Horse Espresso Bar has many locations throughout Toronto but my current favourite is its lofty, sunlit location at 215 Spadina Ave in the old Robertson building. 

It's a super laid back quiet spot, nestled underneath startup and non-profit offices upstairs, so lots of people are in there working away on their laptops or chatting during their lunch breaks. The tables are big and spread out so everyone can have their comfy spot without disturbing anyone else's coffee shop sanctuary. 

Dark horse has a wide selection of hot and cold drinks, sandwiches and sweet and salty baked goods on the menu, written on the glass of their display cases and a chalkboard, in classic trendy cafe style. The only item I can currently vouch for is their iced americano which was very strong and flavorful, definitely recommend. Haven't tried anything else but hopefully once the school year kicks back in I can get back into my coffee shop circuit!

Merike Hess
MAST Coffee
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Living in downtown Toronto I come across sooo many cute little cafes daily, but always find myself going to the one on campus (it just so happens to be right across from my program's building and their coffee is supreme, so can you blame me...?). Not to say that one isn't great, and I'll share about it very soon because it deserves some love. But my point is, I've walked by MAST coffee on my way to school almost every day for the last few months and I haven't taken a moment to pop in until today! 

MAST is a like a beautiful high ceilinged sunroom / greenhouse nook  that smells like fresh coffee and baked goods. It's on a quiet side street with soft bench cushions and free stable wifi, PERFECT conditions for doing homework, working on some sketches, taking  pictures against the white walls or meeting up with friends. I ordered the apple cider which was perfectly spiced and my friend got a cappuccino with heart latte art, both were totally reasonably priced and I cant wait to get one of their tasty looking  butter tarts next time I go!  

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Check out MAST coffee at 68 Shuter St next time you're looking for a quiet escape in the heart of downtown Toronto.


Germany: Sausages, Beer & Potatoes Edition

Visiting 5 cities in 10 days, meant a lot of restaurants and cafes, from the tops of towers to little medieval style nooks. Germany was definitely a culinary adventure. Follow this food adventure in the photos below!







Mainz & Wiesbaden


If you're interested in knowing more info about any of the above places, shoot me a message here.



Cutest spot in all of Germany (that I've seen)

On the last day of my 10 day trip to Germany, I found my favourite food spot. My dad always says, "Whatever it is you're looking for, it will always be in the last place you look". It's one of his favourite jokes... but it's true!

The group had been struggling the whole trip to find places that made everyone happy that weren't run of the mill chain fast food, because after all we're in Germany not the US! Mcdonald's just don't cut it! And finally on the last day we found this little place nestled in Mainz, Germany that was just perfect. 

As it turns out, vegan / vegetarian options are RIDICULOUSLY hard to find in Germany... I mean literally everything has meat, gravy and or cheese on it, which is amazing! But you miss the fresh stuff after a while and we had a few vegetarians in tow on the trip. SchreberGarten (which means community garden in German) is a vegan and vegetarian place that serves basically exclusively baked potatoes. They also serve non vegan options for you meat and cheese lovers out there! In any other circumstance I would have assumed such a thing to be bland, but the moment I saw the sign and the shoppe's branding I knew it couldn't possibly be! 


Just take a look at that sign and those hand drawn cards strung on the wall! Gah!


Until I came to Schrebergarten I wouldn't have imagined that a baked potato would be such a perfect canvas for literally anything. I ordered the "Veganistan" potato, one of the many adventurous potato option on the menu. It came with shredded carrots, an amazing sweet and savoury mango curry sauce, walnuts and red cabbage all beautiful plated on a massive baked potato. The potatos are baked to order in what seemed to be a retro wood burning oven right behind the service counter.

The drink was just as beautiful and tasty, a homemade limeade with fresh mint, spices and lime slices in an adorable glass bottle.


The system they use to keep their business more sustainable & fashionable (at least in the drink department) is to charge two extra euros when you buy your delicious homemade beverage and give you a little wood-burned token as a deposit to get the glass bottle back for reuse. I really appreciate little details like this. It's those little things that make me remember stores and cafe's and tell other people like you about them! 


The overall vibe in Schrebergarten was bright and happy. The staff, although they only spoke German, were welcoming and made an effort to understand our mixture of broken German and English and service was fast and the food was fresh. Also! there's a beautiful wooden patio out front backing onto one of Mainz's many beautiful little parks.


So you can see why this place would make my heart happy, with the flowers, sunlight, small town atmosphere, fresh veggies and home-made sauces and drinks.. I could go on! If you find yourself in Germany and are looking for a little town to visit, Mainz should be on your list and hit up Shrebergarten for lunch.


Merike HessComment
Tree Hunting!

My family has always always gone out to find and cut down our own tree. Of course we are always equipped with hot chocolate and coffee, marshmallows and snacks.

Sadly, our favourite local Christmas tree farm closed last year, but luckily it seems that we've found a new favourite place! We went to Rina's Christmas Trees

Also look how wonderful and cute my family and pets are. I couldn't be more thankful!

Happy holidays! 

Xo Merike

Sunny Sunday

What's better than going coffeeshop-ing back to back on the weekend? Not many things, in my books.

Took the long way around to get to Rooster Coffee House this afternoon. I've met up with my mum here before; this place is the perfect spot for a date, to catch up with a friend, or just to do homework like I'm doing today. 

As you can see, this place is always hopping, so the best way to get fast service here during their rush hours is to order their brewed self serve coffee! Its affordable and very tasty, made from their in-house beans. And of course I couldn't go without a pastry... today's choice was a pecan tart, and I must say its the best one I've had in a while.

I always bring my favourite notebook along with me to jot down inspirations. Its made by Rifle Paper Co. and Garance Doré and the blush pink of the book just happens to match with my favourite watch! (can you tell its my favourite colour next to yellow?). 

"Make a wish" it says on the coffee cup, which actually was a surprisingly big pick-me-up after a bit of a rough day. The little horseshoe doodle inspired me to try my hand at some more coffee cup art - phases of the moon! I'm going to have a huge collection of these custom cups at this rate. 

Happy weekend to everyone! xo Merike


Walk in the Park

What a beautiful fall Saturday! I've been meaning to go to this coffee shop on my street since I moved to Toronto in August. I've walked by it and its witty chalkboard sign everyday and never stopped by. Don't know why... of course I've been busy but not too busy to stop by a cute tiny bakery!

Since the sun was shining and I wanted an excuse to wear my favourite sweater and mittens to the park down the street, I decided today was the day to go to Andrea's Gerrard Street Bakery. 

There's a beautiful chandelier and you can watch the bakers at work, with their aprons making what they call "wee cakes".. the cutest little cakes in every flavour. There were way too many pretty pastries to choose from so I went with the classic chocolate chip cookie and americano coffee.

Decided to do some coffee cup artwork after walking to Riverdale park which I feel like is my own tiny central park right close to home! Been meaning to start this project for a while too.