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10 Best Budget-Friendly Cafés For Warming Up This Winter

A rundown of some of the best and most affordable cafés to find yourself this study season. Written by Ramisha Farooq, storyteller for RU Student Life

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Sweater weather is upon us, and winter is here. And you know what that means? Warm hats, cute mitts and most importantly, hot chocolate. And not just any hot chocolate, some of the best that the Garden District has to offer.

If hot coco is not your thing, trust coffee, lattes and espressos! This list has some delectable baked goods too, for times when Timmies and Starbucks just won't cut it. Most importantly, these are the places you're going to want to hang out during your first Ryerson snow day! Not to mention, these are prime study spots during exam time.

1. Bulldog Coffee

Via Twitter: @beanthereru

This place has some great lattes! As a non-coffee and caffeine drinker, who has only tried it once, I can tell you it was the best experience I've ever had with a caffeinated drink. According to others I've talked to, the owner is also quite delightful and has some employees that definitely know their coffee inside out. It's also a prime walking distance from campus: a street or two before you get to the Mattamy Athletic Centre.

Price Range: Moderate

Must Try: Cappuccino

Address: 89 Granby Street

2. Snakes and Lattes

Via Instagram: @snakesandlattes

This is an extremely popular student location! Though not directly on campus, this place is always packed. Every time that I’ve made my way over there, I’ve had to wait at least 45 minutes to an hour. Now, the concept of a board game game café may be foreign to those coming from outside of Toronto: you literally play board games while you drink your beverage. Though they charge a $5 “cover” to play games, it’s a fair price to pay for the unlimited amount of fun. Snakes has every board game you could think of. Walls upon walls of old and new games with friendly staff who are always willing to explain rules of the game if you’re a little rusty.

Price Range: Low – Under $10

Must Try: Nutella Latte

Address: 600 Bloor St West

Follow Snakes and Lattes on Twitter

Photo from Snakes and Lattes Instagram

3. Black Canary Espresso Bar

Via Twitter: @Gianfranc13

This snug little café is located inside the Silver Snail comic book store above David’s Tea on Yonge Street. It has become the hub of downtown activity with extremely friendly baristas and a swanky espresso machine. This is a must try place right on campus for a very reasonable price for high end coffee and other drinks. More and more people discover this place every day. You’ll meet a variety of people here: comic book lovers, musicians and some stars. An MMA fighter has even been spotted here. A great place to just hang-out!

Price Range: Low

Must Try: Nutella Cappuccino (I have a problem when it comes to chocolate)

Address: 329 Yonge Street (inside the Silver Snail)

Follow Black Canary Espresso Bar on Twitter

4. Fuel+

Via Instagram: @fuelplus

I’ll admit, this is one café that I have not (yet) visited. However, I had so many people recommending it to me that I had to throw it on here. As a lover of raw juices and organic soups, I’m going to have to try it. According to some rave reviews, everything tastes great and the staff are knowledgeable about all the food, which is extremely important. With a clean and modern interior, this place is soon to become a Toronto hotspot if it isn’t already.

Price Range: Moderate - $10+

Must Try: Blueberry Banana Protein Shake + organic soups

Address: 471 Church Street

Follow Fuel+ on Twitter

Photo from Fuel+ on Instagram

5. Roll Play Cafe

Roll Play cafe only opened last September and they are a sleek version of Snakes and Latés. Located right above a book store, it's honestly something out of Instagram. As soon as you walk in, the retro art and the smell of fresh expressos invade your blood stream. They serve warm drinks, pastries, appetizers and yummy sandwiches you'll need to take a picture of. You can either stare out the big windows into the city or pick out whatever you want to play from the board games library. A perfect spot for an afternoon with a book or a night with your competitive friends. And before you leave, they make sure you remember them with souvenir dice set!

Price Range: $10 per person min.

Must Try: Hot Chocolate (it's to die for, seriously)

Address: 10 Edward St, Toronto, ON M5G 1C9

Like Roll Play Cafe on Facebook

6. Moonbean Coffee

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If you haven't been to Moonbean yet, you're missing out on some scrumptious brownies. This joint's craft coffee, artisan tea, gourmet pastries, vegan baked goods and options like almond milk in combination with the great prices make this place a must-try! It's a bit of a walk to Spadina but it's well worth it and no trip to Kensington Market is complete without it. This is a staple for the winter time!

Price Range: Low

Must Try: Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee

Address: 30 St Andrew Street Toronto, ON M5T 1K6

Check them out here.

7. Little Nicky’s Coffee

Via Instagram: @littlenickyscoffee

With some soothing fair trade coffee and donuts, fresh off the rack, you’ll be hard pressed to find a place better than this one. With a 50s interior and milk frothed to creamy goodness you’ll fall in love instantly. If you don’t fall for the food, you’ll fall for the prices. Definitely the best priced café on this list and because it’s not as well-known you’ll never have to face a long line here! Try it before the donuts are gone!

Price Range: Low

Must Try: Iced Latte

Address: 375 Queen St W

Find Little Nicky's on Twitter
Photo from Little Nicky's Instagram

8. FIKA

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Very few people (if any!) have had a bad experience at FIKA. It is another gem of Kensington Market. This café has everything from lattes to baked goods and sandwiches. It is your one stop shop for a warm winter day. They also offer breakfast menu items! What could be better? This place also has a fabulous staff. They make my day so much better. The layout of this café is all about minimalism, which goes a long way when you're constantly surrounded by the hustle, bustle and clutter of Toronto. Fun fact: FIKA means break in Swedish. This only means one thing....you'll be spending all your breaks here from now on. You're welcome.

Price Range: Low

Must-try: Lavender White Hot Chocolate

Address: 28 Kensington Avenue Toronto, ON M5T 2K1

Check them out here.

9. Jimmy's Coffee

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On a cold winter day, Jimmy's Coffee will hit the spot. This is another Kensington Market staple. The sizes may be a bit small, but the taste of anything and everything on the menu is to die for! Not to mention, the prices are right within a student's budget. Jimmy's also offers a unique style and mood. When you walk in, you notice a combo of various styled chairs around a bright, burning fireplace. The atmosphere of this place is funky, cozy and just plain warm. You'll love it!

Price Range: Low/Medium

Must-try: Latte and a nutella cookie

Address: 191 Baldwin Street Toronto, ON M5T 1L8

Check them out here.

10. Café Olya

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As soon as you walk through the door of Café Olya, you are hit by the delicious fragrance of beans and fresh out of the oven croissants. You may or may not faint (I cannot be held accountable for this). Not only is the staff uber-friendly and helpful, they definitely know their coffee and brew pot after pot of the delicious drink. This is a place made for the simple coffee lover that tastes coffee with their whole soul. You wont see any regular Starbucks customers around here. Usually, I don't put on places that don't accept credit cards because let's get real, we're students, but this is definitely worth hitting the ATM.

Price Range: Low/Medium

Must-try: Cappuccino

Address: 540 Parliament Street Toronto, ON M4X 1P7

Check them out here.

One of your favourite spots didn't make our list? Tell us where you spend your coziest café days.

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