Coffee Culture chain to open its first Toronto location

Coffee Culture chain to open its first Toronto location

The interior of a Coffee Culture Café & Eatery

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.