Coffee Culture chain to open its first Toronto location
Torontonians are coffee obsessed (we might even describe ourselves as snobs), but the new kid on the block is no Aunties and Uncles. The Ontario franchise Coffee Culture Café & Eatery will open its first Toronto location in mid-April at 409 College Street—a stone’s throw from bike courier favourite Manic Coffee. The company has high hopes of winning the Toronto market, with five cafés to open in the GTA this year. While a recession-friendly price point (from $1.40 for drip brew), free wireless and a sizable menu distinguish the company, it moves in at a time when indie coffee shops seem stronger (and more common) than ever.
Since its 2006 start in Woodstock, Coffee Culture has opened 27 locations, with another 20 planned for Ontario before the end of 2009. The plush seating, a selection of five signature South American and South African blends (including one fair trade/organic option) and ambitions for international expansion brings to mind another once fast-growing java house. But it may be a bad time to take a lesson from Starbucks—the recent round of closures included two downtown Toronto locations—though 12 Canadian openings are on the horizon.
The Coffee Culture formula must be working, since there are no plans to tailor the café to the Toronto market. “All our locations have exactly the same concept,” said Zana Hrstic, a rep at the Mississauga head office. The company’s mission, “to enlighten and inspire the human spirit,” translates design-wise into Old World charm with exposed brick and comfortable furniture.
Pricing is somewhere between Tim Hortons and Second Cup; Coffee Culture’s specialty drinks start at $3.50. And with a solid range of breakfast options and Italian-style sammies, the café could become the newest tier in Toronto’s ever-expanding bean scene.
3 thoughts on “Coffee Culture chain to open its first Toronto location”
First of all — “bike courier favourite Manic Coffee”? A lot of people who go there ride bikes, sure, but the clientele is predominantly hip twenty- and thirty-somethings, getting their WiFi on, all day long. It’s not overrun by bike couriers.
Secondly, I only went to Coffee Culture because they gave me a free coupon when I happened by on Saturday of Easter weekend and was told the place wasn’t yet open; they were having a staff meeting.
The signage and logo are clearly in emulation of Starbucks, which led me to think that maybe the C.C. chain originated in the U.S. I’ve never been a fan of Starbucks’ coffee or baked goods, or, really, anything about them. But a free coffee’s a free coffee.
It’s disconcerting, though, to find that C.C.started right here in Ontario.
Although the College/Bathurst Coffee Culture’s staff were friendly and polite, to say that the croissant I tried was a travesty of the famous French crescent roll would be an understatement. It could more accurately be described as a travesty of a baked good. Period.
And being biased against Starbucks’ version of coffee (I just don’t like the taste of it) I found that C.C.’s slavish imitation of Starbucks’ brew was equally off-putting.
C.C. does have an extensive menu of crepes, grilled sandwiches and soups. With reasonable prices like theirs, I might try these at a later time — using my C.C. coffee club card to enjoy hot chocolate or tea with my meal. NOT coffee!
I’ll avoid the muffins and pastries altogether, and let’s not even talk about the cakes. Better can be had elsewhere — and not very far away at that.
As an alternative to the crowds at Manic and the crud at Starbucks further west, I just might find that Coffee Culture is an O.K. neighbourhood spot in the months to come — if I choose my menu items carefully!
about CC. its a house of cards with franchises in outer locations ready to crumble. some already have. i will stick with my home brew thanks
I used to go manic, Tim horton ,second cup from last two years, but Coffee Culture is the best place to spend quality time with your Gf or Family. Since i taste Coffee Culture coffee and lattes all Coffee house Manic, Tim horton ,second cup coffee taste like water to me. never going back to other coffee shops specially tim hortons.
I talked to manager and he told me chain is Canadian owened and from Mississauga. Thanks to Coffee Culture
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