Double latte, double standard: indie cafés slammed for being too popular

Double latte, double standard: indie cafés slammed for being too popular

(Image: ed zeppelin, from the Toronto Life Flickr pool) 

Every time a Toronto café becomes popular or thinks about expanding, its indie status is called into question. People are quick to use the words “chain,” “sellout” and, most offensive of all, “Starbucks.” There was an article in the Globe this week announcing the creation of the Toronto Coffee Conspiracy, a group of third-wave café owners—such coffeemongers as Matt Taylor of Mercury Espresso, Sam James of his namesake spot, Matt Lee of Manic and Ed and Deanna of Dark Horse—who have banded together to promote their businesses and spread the word of proper java making. And it didn’t take long for the haters to log on and sound off.

A sampling of the comments on the article: one person writes that this could be the start of TCC members pooling their money to form a new mega–coffee chain; another writes that this is a way to gang up on cafés not owned by friends of Matt Taylor; and still others (apparently writing from 1998) claim that this is just another marketing ploy capitalizing on the anti-Starbucks movement.

Two shops have dropped out of the TCC so far because they deemed it too “clubby.” The article didn’t name names, but we noticed that Cherry Bomb was listed as one of the initial members on the TCC’s blog in February, but it isn’t mentioned in the list of participating cafés in the Globe piece.

This is all reminiscent of when Dark Horse opened its Spadina location. There was outcry because this little-known café was now exposed to the Wi-Fi-loving masses. True though that may be, we couldn’t help but notice a line at the cash last time we strolled by.

Inside the Toronto Coffee Conspiracy [Globe and Mail]
The Toronto Coffee Conspiracy
If your indie café starts a chain, is it still indie?