Grounds for Appeal: Which court-reporting centres have the best coffee?

As a litigator, I spend a lot of time at court-reporting centres. And while some lawyers can make it through a seven-hour examination without coffee, I’m not one of them. Fortunately, most reporting centres provide unlimited, free coffee. But the quality can vary drastically. Here are three reporting centres that regularly serve up a great cup of coffee.


Network Reporting & MediationJura, coffee,

Network offers a lot of choice in brewed coffee. In the morning, there are usually several carafes of different types of coffee, which are constantly refilled throughout the day. My favourite is the Pike Place, a medium roast from Starbucks. Network grinds its coffee beans immediately before brewing the coffee. If you’re at the downtown or west location, then you can use Network’s Jura coffee machine to make an amazing cup of coffee. I’m not usually a huge fan of automated coffee machines, but Jura machines are different. Instead of using prepackaged coffee pods, Jura grinds the beans before making each cup. It also makes delicious Americanos, cappuccinos and lattes in less than 60 seconds.

Pro-tip: grab a slice of Network’s famous chocolate cake and make your cup of coffee that much sweeter.

Various locations (Downtown, West and North)



Victory VerbatimFlavia Coffee Machine, coffee

In Victory Verbatim’s kitchen is a virtual buffet of coffee. Here lies the Flavia C400 — an automated coffee machine that produces decent, middle-of-the-road coffee. What takes Victory to the next level, though, is that there’s a Flavia in every single room. So, if you’re dying for a cup of coffee, you don’t have to interrupt your co-counsel in the middle of her examination. You can just slip to the back of the room and make yourself a cup of joe. And, if you have a hankering for espresso, you can make one using the Nespresso machine. The best part? Victory puts small bottles of Perrier nearby because, as every coffee snob knows, espresso tastes better once you cleanse your palette with some sparkling water.

222 Bay St., Toronto



Durham Reporting &
Mediation Services cuisinart coffee makers, coffee, brew

Why is Durham Reporting’s coffee so good? It follows the three rules of great coffee: purchase quality beans, grind the beans just before use and use a state-of-the-art brewing machine. Durham Reporting uses Kirkland Signature Medium Roast House Blend beans and brews the coffee in a Cuisinart Automatic Burr Grind and Brew. The result? A delicious cup of coffee that impresses me every single time.

12 Stanley Court, Whitby


Iman AkoborIman Abokor is an insurance defence lawyer at Lawson LLP and Precedent’s coffee columnist.

Grounds for Appeal: Where to find decent cold brew coffee

All summer long, sidewalk chalkboards everywhere seemed to advertise cold brew coffee. But to be honest, the cold-brew trend has puzzled me since day one. Isn’t it just, well, cold coffee? I looked into it and, as it happens, it’s a bit more than that. To start, a proper cold brew requires more coffee grounds than regular coffee. And to make it, baristas steep the grounds in cold or room-temperature water for several hours. Still, I couldn’t find one I liked. So this summer, I forced myself to guzzle back an enormous array of cold brews. I can’t say I fell in love with any of them, but, if you must join the cold-brew craze, here are my favourites.


Reunion Island Cold Brew & Tonic reunion, coffee, cold brew, iman abokor, roncesvalles

In its Roncesvalles café, Reunion Island has set up a cool looking cold-brew tower that drips a tiny drop of coffee every second. The coffee is then steeped for six to eight hours and served with a bottle of Fever Tree tonic water, which blends well with the coffee. This refreshing beverage ended up being my go-to summer drink. I grabbed it every time I was in Roncesvalles to cool down.
385 Roncesvalles Ave, Toronto



Propeller Coffee Cold Brewcold brew, Propeller, iman abokor, coffee

If you want cold brew with no filler, then try Propeller. It was, hands-down, my favourite and the first cold brew that made me appreciate the craft. Its complex, natural sweetness and caramel finish reminded me of coffee ice cream. You can get it bottled at the Bloordale café.
50 Wade Ave, Toronto




Early Bird Espresso Flash Brew
Iced Coffee early bird coffee, cold brew, iman abokor

Technically, this one doesn’t qualify as cold brew, since it isn’t steeped. Instead, Early Bird brews hot coffee directly onto ice. The coffee chills instantly and produces a delicious drink, called aisu kohi in Japan, that recalls the fruity flavour of iced tea. The result is smooth and sweet. Don’t ruin this drink by adding milk or sugar, though. That will mask its complexity.
613 Queen St W, Toronto




If you enjoy cold brew, but don’t want to spend upwards of $5 on it, there are simple recipes online. Try this one.

Iman AkoborIman Abokor is an insurance defence lawyer at Lawson LLP and Precedent’s coffee columnist.

Grounds for Appeal: The best coffee shops in Paris

It’s that time of year when we start to take summer vacations. But before you pack your bags, make sure you know where you’ll get your coffee while you’re away. No true caffeine addict can travel across the world without mapping out their watering holes.

I recently took a trip to Paris where good planning allowed me to avoid poor coffee. You’d think that a city with cafés at every corner would have some great ones to choose from. Not so, my friends. Parisian cafés offer plenty of opportunities to people-watch, but they don’t always offer first-rate coffee to go along with it. For a decent cup of joe, you’ll have to do some research. Luckily, before I left, I stumbled upon the website that provides a list of places that serve specialty coffee. The Google Maps feature on this site, which pinpoints speciality coffee shops near you, was a lifesaver. I didn’t get to try all of the great spots on the list, but I managed to get to a few. Below are the standouts.


Strada CaféStrada Cafe, coffee, Paris

While wandering around the Latin Quarter during my first day in Paris, I stumbled upon this café’s Rue Monge location. I could feel the jet lag start to dissipate as I took the first sip of my glorious Americano (referred to as café allongé by the French). Strada uses beans roasted by award-winning Parisian roaster L’Arbre à Café. There’s a no-laptop rule during peak hours, so if you wanted to get some work in during your vacation, you’re out of luck.

24 Rue Monge and 94 Rue du Temple



La CaféothèqueLa Cafeotheque, Paris, coffee

The décor in this joint is superb. It looks like a literal library of coffee, and even has a slightly musty smell to go with it. There are huge bags of coffee beans around, and a wall made up almost entirely of drawers that store green coffee from all over the world. There’s plenty of seating but La Caféothèque is popular, so you’ll likely have to wait for a seat if you’re not taking your coffee to-go. My café allongé took forever to arrive but it was worth the wait (and the cab ride). In this case, you really can judge a book by its cover.

52 Rue de l’Hôtel de ville


Café LomiCafe Lomi, coffee, Paris

My Fodor guide actually recommended Café Lomi for weekend brunch, but I discovered that this spot is also famous for its coffee and that beans are roasted on site. I started with the filtered coffee, which was made using Ethiopia-Hunkute beans, and it was so amazing, I almost wept. I also had the Chemex of the Day, which was made with Rwanda-Jarawa beans. The beans were subtle but complex. After several cups of coffee, I left Café Lomi feeling a little bit over-caffeinated than when I came in but hey, I could use the extra energy for sight-seeing.

3 ter Rue Marcadet

Iman AkoborIman Abokor is an insurance defence lawyer at Lawson LLP and Precedent’s coffee columnist.

Grounds for Appeal: The best coffee shops in New York City

New York City is known as the city that never sleeps. And that’s definitely true for me. I visit twice a year, and when I do, I drink so much coffee that shut-eye is often elusive. But given that New York is one of the greatest coffee cities in the world, the last thing I want to do is sleep. Below are some of my favourite coffee haunts in the Big Apple.


Saturdays (Soho)Saturdays

While Saturdays is technically a surf shop,
its espresso bar serves seriously good coffee
and is manned by expert baristas. Its Americano, made with a custom blend by La Colombe, explodes in your mouth in a cacophony of flavours, and gives you the boost needed to face the hustle and bustle of NYC. The one downside: unlike most NYC cafés, there is no real seating other than a couple of benches.

31 Crosby Street



La ColombeLa Colombe

So, full disclosure: I am a bit obsessed with this Philadelphia-based coffee company. It has some of the best coffee I have tasted in my life — and that says a lot. The Single Origin Ethiopia-YirgZ is a standout. Do yourself a favour and buy some beans to take back with you across the border.

Various locations





Toby’s EstateToby'sEstate

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve walked for miles, and sometimes even cabbed it, just to grab a Japanese-style pour-over coffee from this Brooklyn-based roaster. Its coffee is simply top-notch. You can find Toby’s Estate at various locations in NYC, but my favourite is the Williamsburg location, which is absolutely stunning. Grab a passion fruit donut with your coffee, and your life will be complete.

Various locations.



Blue Bottle CoffeeBlueBottle

During my last visit to New York City, this past February, I stayed at a hotel a few doors down from Blue Bottle’s Bryant Park location. I’d be lying if I said that the proximity to Blue Bottle was not a major consideration in choosing a hotel. Blue Bottle is just that good. Its pour-over coffees are so wonderful that I’m actually considering writing to the founder, a self-proclaimed “coffee lunatic,” to beseech him to open a location in the Big Smoke.

54 W 40th St.





Next time you’re in NYC, forget about eating out at great restaurants. Take my advice and focus all of your energy on the amazing coffee.


Iman AkoborIman Abokor is an insurance defence lawyer at Lawson LLP and Precedent’s coffee columnist.

Grounds for Appeal: The best sit-down coffee shops in the Financial District

On days when you don’t feel like committing to a long lunch, meeting over coffee is a great way to catch up with a friend or colleague — but meeting over really good coffee is even better. Luckily, for Bay Streeters, sit-down coffee shops in the Financial District serve up some awesome joe. Here are my three favourite joints.

Dineen Coffee Co.

DineenWhenever I introduce someone to this Yonge and Temperance café, they always marvel at its beauty. With floor-to-ceiling windows, patterned tile floors, red leather benches and gorgeous accents (including a chandelier that used to hang in the Royal York), the space is stunning. But don’t judge Dineen by the cover alone: the coffee, brewed using beans from local roasters, is the main draw. I’m partial to the light-roast drip coffee, which uses single origin Colombian beans. Finding a table at Dineen midday can be tricky, as it’s become a go-to coffee spot. So you’ll have to be agile and quick to score a table, especially one by the window.

140 Yonge Street

M Square Coffee Co.

MSquareIf you want a quieter coffee shop than Dineen, with tables that are always up for grabs, try M Square. Because it’s located in the Sheraton Centre in the PATH, you don’t have to brave the elements on rainy or snowy days to get your caffeine fix. M Square uses multiple roasters but its staple roaster is Phil & Sebastian out of Calgary. M Square was also the first café in Toronto to use Transcend Coffee beans, another Canadian company based out of Edmonton. My drink of choice is its Americano, which is strong enough to get me over any midday slump. I also like its Clever Coffee Drip, which takes two to four minutes to steep, but is worth the wait.

123 Queen Street West


Maman openedM Square its first Canadian location this past July in the mezzanine of First Canadian Place. It’s a combination bakery, café and restaurant that serves up French-inspired cuisine and excellent coffee, using beans from Brooklyn-based Toby’s Estate. Maman’s décor, inspired by a French country kitchen, features custom-made furniture crafted by a carpenter in the South of France. The shop’s name is fitting: the seating at communal tables is reminiscent of eating at your mother’s table. Maman is famous for its chocolate-chip cookie, but what will really get your day off to a great start is a shot of espresso with a financier, and an almond-based pastry served in Paris.

100 King Street West
Closed on Sunday

Iman AkoborIman Abokor is an insurance defence lawyer at Lawson LLP and Precedent’s coffee columnist.

Grounds For Appeal: How to pick the right beans for perfect homemade coffee

“This morning, with her, having coffee.” Johnny Cash, on his definition of paradise. It’s the kind of quote that stays with you, mostly because of how true it is: a good day usually starts with well-made coffee and great companionship. And recreating Cash’s definition of morning bliss doesn’t even require a daily trip to a hip café. With the right beans, you can make high-quality coffee right in your kitchen. (You’re on your own for the companionship part.)

While you can get decent coffee beans at the grocery store, if you want a really unforgettable cup of coffee, you should buy your beans from a specialty roaster. Most independent coffee shops sell custom blends prepared for them by local roasters. (Or, you can buy directly from the roaster online.) Just a few examples are Detour Coffee Roasters in Burlington, Pilot Coffee Roasters in Toronto and Social Coffee & Tea Company in Richmond Hill. Some even offer coffee subscriptions, so you can try different beans every few weeks. If you pick a Canadian roaster, the shipping fees are usually pretty reasonable.
Wherever you get your coffee beans, ask these questions before picking up a bag.

What’s the roast date?

Brett Johnston, head of innovation at Pilot, says good coffee should have a roasting date on the bag and suggests consuming beans within about four weeks after they were roasted. “Not because coffee beans go bad,” he says, “but the flavour dissipates and becomes flat after a month.”

Will you go to the dark side?

You’re going to have to make a choice between light-, medium-, and dark-roast beans. But what do those even mean? “As coffee gets browner, it gets more caramelized, more chocolate,” says Sam James, of Sam James Coffee Bar in Toronto. “The flavour becomes simpler the darker it is. The lighter it is, the fruitier it tastes.”

The choice is yours, but don’t stress too much about the decision — nearly every roaster I spoke to said there’s too much emphasis placed on the roast level. Instead focus on what flavours intrigue you. Specialty coffee should always list its flavour notes, which can vary from blueberries to Reese’s Pieces.

Do you want to buy ethical?

You’ve got choices: fair trade, direct trade, certified organic and eco-friendly, to name a few. Their definitions are complicated, so I suggest you worry less about the formal certifications and ask the roaster which beans make a difference to the farmers and their communities.

Where are you going to keep the beans?

“Store your coffee in a cool, dark place,” says Geoff Woodley, head roaster at Detour. A cupboard usually works fine. He says the trick is to keep your coffee beans out of direct sunlight.

Contrary to popular opinion, freezing or refrigerating your beans does not keep them fresh. You just have to keep the oxygen out, either by wrapping them up tight in the bag or storing them in an airtight container.

Consider yourself ready to make coffee worthy of paradise. Now you’ve just got to carve out the time in the morning to make it.

Iman’s go-to coffee choices:

Coffee Choices










Iman AkoborIman Abokor is an insurance defence lawyer at Lawson LLP and Precedent’s coffee columnist.



Cover of the Fall 2015 Issue of PrecedentThis story is from our Fall 2015 issue.

The Referral: The best coffee in the PATH

Julia Lafebvre

Julia Lefebvre

Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn LLP

Making the case: “I’m obsessed with Mos Mos. It’s a fantastic coffee shop where they steam the milk for every order — it’s basically a café au lait for the price of a regular coffee. They’re also the friendliest people, and they go out of their way to get to know your name.

“I’m always bumping into lawyers there — usually on their coffee breaks and usually when I’m late for work. Good thing the lineup moves fast.”

Where to find it: Commerce Court East in the PATH, right next to the doors to King Station

Failsafe order: The flat white

The extra touch: A dash of cocoa on your coffee

This story is from our Summer 2015 issue.




Photography by Braden Alexander

Grounds for Appeal: The best coffee in Old Town

Let’s face it: most of us lawyers drink more than our fair share of coffee. Whether we’re at an examination for discovery, an all-day CLE or an hours-long client meeting, that caffeine kick is a blessing.

As an insurance defence lawyer at Matthews Abogado, a litigation boutique at Queen and Bay, my afternoon coffee breaks let me catch up with friends and colleagues, while giving me the energy jolt to get through any mid-day slump. I am, however, a little more passionate about coffee than your average lawyer. For example, when going on vacation, while other people research sights, I scout the coffee shop offerings.

For me, the definition of pure bliss is sitting in a coffee shop on a Sunday morning with an Americano in one hand and a book in the other — ideally not a law book. Luckily, Toronto is a great coffee city, with many cafés that serve up seriously good coffee. And in the last few years, I’ve made it my mission to try each and every one. In this column, I’ll be spotlighting my three favourite coffee shops in each Toronto neighbourhood. Why? Because life is too short to drink bad coffee.


Old Town/St. Lawrence Market

Now that spring has firmly settled over the city, it’s the perfect time for an afternoon stroll. If you work in the Financial District and find yourself in the St. Lawrence Market area for lunch, take an extra few minutes to grab a cup of joe at some of the city’s best coffee shops and roasters. Here are my three favourite cafés to visit just east of Bay Street for the best coffee in Old Town.


1. Fahrenheit Coffee
120 Lombard Street

On a side street just off Jarvis, between Richmond and Adelaide, you will find Fahrenheit Coffee. If Cheers is the bar where everyone knows your name, Fahrenheit is the coffee shop equivalent. If you come here on even an occasional basis, the baristas greet you as if you are a long lost friend. The coffee here is divine and the baristas are extremely knowledgeable. You can choose from three different types of espressos for your drink. A sign tells you the notes of each blend. I’m partial to the Diablo, their house blend. For latte fans, the triple-shot large soy latte will give you the kick you need to get over any afternoon slump. Seating is very limited.


Black Canary

2. The Black Canary
61 Sherbourne East

On King Street East and Sherbourne, The Black Canary is one of the only places in the city where you can find a great pour-over coffee. Using their own blend from Detour Coffee Roasters, they are famous for their Nutella latte. This drink is not as syrupy sweet as it sounds; the espresso takes centre stage. Their Americano, with notes of chocolate and hazelnut, is one of my favourites in the city and is best consumed black. The design of the cafe is eclectic, with a chandelier over a communal table and comfortable couches nestled in a nook. If you can’t make it to the East, there’s another location by Yonge and Dundas at 392 Yonge Street.


Rooster Coffee

3. Rooster Coffee
343 King Street East

When Rooster Coffee House opened their second location on King Street East, I was happy that I no longer had to make the trek to Riverdale to have some of their amazing coffee. Like Fahrenheit, Rooster Coffee uses special blends made for them by Pilot Coffee Roasters. The flat white is a great morning pick-me-up. Their speciality is the honey ginger latte, which is surprisingly soothing although a bit on the sweet side. Speaking of sweet, if you’re looking for some dessert with your coffee, definitely try their pecan square.

Iman AkoborIman Abokor is an insurance defence lawyer at Lawson LLP and Precedent’s coffee columnist.

Splurge: This Dream espresso machine is worth the price tag

Dream espresso machineMaybe you want to get serious about your morning coffee, or maybe you just want to stop spending so damn much at Starbucks (your espresso-a-day habit is costing you nearly $750 a year, FYI). Whatever your reason, it’s time for a grown-up espresso machine. Allow us to recommend this beauty from Spanish manufacturer Ascaso. Like other machines at this price point, the Dream boasts a steam pipe for making lattes and a cup warmer on top.

But what really sets it apart from its boxy, metallic competitors is its sleek retro design, which comes in 14 different colours. Choose one that matches your kitchen colour scheme or go for one that stands out on your countertop — either way you’ve got yourself a hand- some piece of machinery that you’ll look forward to using. There goes your last reason to leave the house on Saturday morning. $650.


This story appears in our 2014 national Student Issue