The Bandit Coffee Group
The Bandit is hoping to become a one-stop morning shop for the Upper Beaches and Danforth East communities. While on its opening day it offers simply coffee and baked treats, co-owner Kirk Stratakos tells me its roster of goods and services is soon to expand.
"We're going to a get a fridge," he says, pointing to a mostly-vacant wall, "and we'll have ready-made sandwiches and other things to grab-and-go." He goes on to explain that Bandit's vintage red carousel, currently occupying central floor space and offering take-home bags of coffee beans and loose-leaf tea, will shortly be stocked with other "convenience items" to keep you satiated throughout the day.
Of course, coffee and sandwiches isn't that usual. But dropping off your dry cleaning at the same place you get your morning espresso is. Bandit has partnered with TSC Wet Clean, an eco-friendly "wet cleaner" in Mississauga, and hopes to become a depot in about five to six weeks.
"We'll have garment bags here," Kirk says, laying out the concept, "and customers can drop off their clothes when they come by in the morning. The cleaners will pick them up each day and communicate with the customers via email, who can decide to have their clothes delivered to their home or back here."
Kirk says the cost will be market price and the goal is simply to offer convenience to the customer. All things considered, I was pretty impressed with the idea, and asked Kirk where he came up with the concept. "Right here," he says, grinning, tapping on his forehead. I notice a few other sources of ingenuity I scan the café, including a refurbished worn door serving as a menu board, and an old wooden crate, which Kirk says used in shipping Bandit's espresso machine, repurposed as a table for the café's back armchairs.
Kirk and his business partner, Tracy Loyson, wanted to keep the emphasis on local, so they've sourced their beans from Te Aro and tea from Steeped and Infused. The menu consist of typical drinks including espresso ($2.38), Americano ($2.86) and latte ($3.81), as well as the kiddie-cino ($3.05) of steamed milk and optional flavouring and baked goods from Cake Couture.
Barista Mike pulls a really great shot for my Americano, leaving lots of room for milk (regular, soy, lactose-free, or almond). While I usually leave the sugar out, I opted to try one of Bandit's infused sugars (I went for the jar with the vanilla bean), which I thought was a really nice touch. The coffee had a lovely bold flavour (characteristic of Te Aro's "big-bro") and finishes strong. The pleasure would only be improved, I can imagine, by unloading an armful of dry cleaning.
The Bandit Coffee Group offers free WiFi and is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day.
Photos by Jesse Milns