Page One café was built upon the dedication and passion of Firas Arafat and Jennifer Reynolds. Firas and Jennifer do not have an extensive background in the coffee industry, which you would never guess after visiting Page One café. The philosophy of Page One is that of new beginnings, and for Firas and Jennifer their new beginning was opening a café that competes for a top-ranking in the Toronto café community.
I first met Firas in December of 2015. He was driving for Uber part-time as a way to escape the time intensive construction of the cafe. It was a cold winter evening and I was leaving the Christmas market to head back to my AirBnB rental. It was going to be a long drive so Firas began asking a few questions about myself. I made a comment about the coffee industry in Toronto and how it has progressed in the past few years. It was at that point Firas told me he was opening his own café in early 2016. He gave me a business card, which I have kept in my wallet until hearing about the grand opening.
On Feburary 29th 2016 Firas and Jennifer finally opened the doors to Page One café after ten long months of construction. They turned this once movie rental store into a beautiful, well designed café that welcomes you with warmth and comfort. It is very refreshing to see that Firas and Jennifer carried out their philosophy of new beginnings with all aspects of Page One. From the name of the café to the various type writers found around the café it is clear that this is a place to experience new beginnings.
37-year old Firas was born in Kuwait and moved to the Gaza Strip. From here Firas was given a scholarship to complete his Masters degree in Economics in Belgium. Firas moved to Toronto twelve years ago and has been working as a corporate consultant since. He truly loved his career but felt that he needed to do more. He had been talking with Jennifer in late 2014 about the idea of opening a small espresso bar, which eventually grew to incorporate his passion for craft beer and scotch.
Page One cafe is one of only a few cafes in Toronto that offer local craft beer and a wide selection of wines and scotches. Firas and Jennifer wanted to provide a space for people to work but also a space for people to relax. Page One café uses coffee from Toronto based coffee roaster Propeller, offering Ace espresso and rotating drip blends. Firas is a strong supporter of everything espresso and when a customer orders drip coffee he always suggests an espresso based alternative. Firas told me that serving espresso is more costly for the café to make but that he would rather people enjoy the well-balanced espresso. Firas believes in supporting local and all the baked goods are locally sourced from Prepped organics in Toronto. I tried a few things off the menu and was impressed by how delicious these baked goods are.
My experience here was memorable, both the coffee and the people I met. Firas and Jennifer have done an exceptional job with this café, with hopes of continued growth in the future. I had a few shots of espresso that were some of the cleanest I have had in Toronto. I was able to drink the espresso hot and cold without any sour or bitter notes. The milk based drinks are well poured, providing the perfect balance of milk and espresso. Juan is a very talented barista producing some fantastic looking latte art. Juan brought me behind the bar to teach me a few techniques.
Firas believes that the coffee community has really blossomed in the past few years, alongside the growing interest in craft beer. Both Firas and Jennifer want to provide customers with the highest quality standards in all aspects of their café and this is what sets Page One café apart from others. I will and have been recommending this café to anyone who wants a memorable coffee experience. The friendliness of the staff and the quality of the products is what will keep me coming back to Page One Café.