The Green Grind, a new cafe with an environmentally conscious mandate, opened in Little Italy this week.
Curious to see what this new addition could bring to the already rather caffeinated artery of Toronto that is College Street, I went in to see how the brew stacks up and to talk to owner Becky Dooley about the philosophy behind The Green Grind.
Residing one flight of stairs above street level on the corner of College and Manning, The Green Grind isn't terribly conspicuous. This makes it all the more surprising when you step up to the entrance and realize the wall-of-windows benefit that is gained by this slight elevation.
The brightness of the interior is furthered by all white walls, punctured only by a long, communal table with bright orange chairs and the green-sided espresso machine that acts as a centerpiece. "I couldn't resist it," Dooley later tells me when I ask if the machine was almost too apt of a mascot "it was perfect."
My cohort and I order a mocha and an americano respectively, while I eye the selection of loaves, cookies and brownies (all the food and coffee sold is organic, the coffee is also fair trade) eventually settling on a ginger snap cookie.
Dooley has a Master's in environmental studies and wanted to find a way to marry her background with her love of coffee. She eventually settled on opening a coffee shop so that there could be somewhere in Toronto where "people could enjoy coffee without feeling guilty about the associated waste," she explains. "I think most people want to minimize their impact on the environment and this is one (other) way of making it easy."
She acknowledges that her choice of name has the potential to smack of green-washing to some people, but says that she couldn't let that sway her decision. "I don't want to hide what I'm trying to do," she says, "I just want people to come in and see what we're about for themselves."
In order to maximize the energy efficiency of the cafe they use low energy bulbs that are activated by a daylight sensor. They're also a client of Bullfrog Power.
Besides the usual BYO travel mug discount and recycling bins, The Green Grind also has a compost bin, uses only biodegradable cups and lids and has a policy of only using natural cleaning products in the cafe.
1% of all profits are donated to the environmental charity 1% for the planet , but the most extensive step Dooley has taken is registering The Green Grind for LEED certification . This involves having everything from the paint on the walls to their water consumption scrutinized.
She felt this was an important step to underline her position that The Green Grind isn't a green lip-service operation. "It's not an easy process, but it means having third party validation that we're doing everything we can to be environmentally conscious," she says.
Getting back to the coffee, both the mocha and the americano are extremely good and the ginger snap cookie is deliciously sweet, light, and crunchy.
There are plans to add sandwiches and more to the menu, as soon as a supplier can be found that has good organic options without a massive mark-up, as Dooley wants to keep everything reasonably priced. "I want students to be able to come here as well," she says. Hence the free wi-fi.
The Green Grind is now open, Mon-Fri 7a.m-7p.m, Sat/Sun 8a.m-8p.m.
Photos by Emma McIntyre