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I Deal Coffee (Kensington Market)

Posted by Frank / Posted on October 18, 2007

I Deal CoffeeWhy do I prickle with guilt upon walking into my local Starbucks? I guess I've seen one too many docs on the world's second most valuable commodity and can't help but feel a little like I'm fucking over some Ethiopian farmer every time I take a sip from that steaming cup of java.

Ideally, my coffee would be dark and complex, roasted to perfect Viennese brown; the liquid spirit of a shady East african hill top with a warm, smoky aroma as big as a room--a brew that could temper even the most savage morning and make things a little more bearable.

Here's the catch: those beans I covet should also be harvested by farmers earning a living wage and committed to sustainable growing techniques.

I Deal CoffeeSo any Saturday I can, I'll skip my local mug-slingers and head down to Kensington for a cup of pre-grocery shopping joe at I deal Coffee. More addictive than a game of facebook scrabble, the heady scent of beans freshly roasted to perfect, rich mahogany wafts through the eclectic, shabby-chic digs of I Deal's Kensington Market location. Flooded with mid-autumn sunshine, the Nassau street flagship shop attracts all walks and where better to enjoy a wonderfully balanced cafe latte (a bargain at $3)--pulled by an exceedingly cute barista--with a thick slice of deliciously moist and chocolaty home-made banana bread ($2) paired with a paper and some lively conversation among friends.

I Deal CoffeeIn addition to the brew made fresh on the premises, you can also order their beans by the pound at the shop or online-- regardless of personal roast preference I encourage everyone to order 1 lb of the 'prince of darkness' for the simple, undiluted semoitic joy of hearing the words drip from your tongue--and hell, the coffee ain't bad either. I Deal also supplies several restaurants in the city with their coffee as well so that exceptional cup you recently had with your meal may very well have been I Deal.

Producing small batches of great coffee by roasting small amounts and selling it within one day so it never goes stale ideal may mean having to work with some tight margins but they have some lofty goals.

According to James Fortier, the inspiration behind the beans, "we just want everyone to have access to their 'ideal' cup of coffee; we want to be the place where ideal circumstances coincide for everybody (farmers, our employees and our customers) to get the best out of coffee".

So fair trade coffee at reasonable prices is right up my alley, easing my guilty conscience while addressing my caffeine fix. Question is, when are they gonna be down my street?

"We do plan to expand, and currently are." James continues "My sister who worked for us for 2 years opened a shop in Ottawa August 05, we opened a shop at 162 Ossington, May '06 and are opening one at 1560 Queen East in the next 2 weeks. Expand yes, franchise no. So far, I Deal has always opened up with somebody who has put in time behind the counter at one of the locations."

I Deal CoffeeAll this touchy-feelyness can be a bit much and luckily you won't have to think about it once the first sip of that perfectly roasted goodness reaches your system. So if you're in the market you should swing by for a cup or if you wait, no doubt there'll be one coming soon to a corner near you.



chephy / October 18, 2007 at 03:43 am
Good place to know about, but I have a minor gripe about the review: why do the middle two pictures have such an unrealistic, unappetizingly blueish hue? Neon lighting may produce such an effect in a photograph, but it's really not that difficult to fix in just about any graphics editor.
Maria / October 18, 2007 at 02:41 pm
Oh, I can see Denny and Laura from Lettuce Knit, just two doors down from I Deal. I love having a nice coffee every time I visit the yarn store. Great preparation for Wednesday Knit Nights!
Tanja / October 18, 2007 at 04:48 pm
photos have been colour tweaked. you can resume drooling.;)
Allan / October 18, 2007 at 05:05 pm
styrofoam grr / March 26, 2008 at 02:30 am
I love IDeal BUT what is with their take out cups being STYROFOAM? I thought it was just one location but came to find out all the IDeals use styrofoam, when I asked about it I was told "they were way cheaper".
C.Q / May 17, 2008 at 06:24 pm
Actually they use styrafoam so people will bring there own travel mugs, because paper cups are lined with wax, which breaks down at the dump SUPER slow.And the cups that are made with corn, could actually be feeding people, and how easy is it to bring a travel mug? (VERY) And i you forget yours borrow one of thier mugs.
ARE YOU SERIOUS!! / May 31, 2008 at 03:28 am
C.Q Are you really honestly serious??
Using styrofoam cups in any capacity, let alone a "fair trade" "eco aware" coffee company is completely unacceptable.
Convenience stores use styrofoam cups!!
Not legit coffee shops.

And what kind of logic is "we could use biodegradable cups, but those could be feeding people, so lets just use the most unbiodegradable pollutant cups possible, and make our customers feel bad about it and bring their own mugs"
What about the prospect of NEW CUSTOMERS???
If I had never walked into Ideal before, and was served coffee in a styrofoam cup, and made to feel guilty, like I should be schlepping a dirty coffee mug around with me all day anyways, I can say I would not return.
Nor do I.

Ideals reluctance to spend money on something as basic and quasi mandatory as bidegradable paper cups is truly indicative of how cheaply they operate their business.
Ever wonder why all their coffee equipment looks old and dirty?
Cuz it is old and dirty!

I could write a book about where Ideal falls short, but basically Ideal coffee is not good, styrofoam cups do suck, and placing Ideal at the top of the Best of TO list is hilarious.
tiffany / October 13, 2008 at 03:32 am
never been here may try it however $3 dollars for a latte is a little expensive (if it's fairtrade and organic then it is worth the price, seemed like quite a small piece of bananna bread for $2 though..hopefully that was organic too (?)...maybe it's just the city
Quads / October 27, 2008 at 03:15 pm
Although I like buying coffee there, I always take a pass on ordering anything to drink there. The servers are clumsy and sloppy about making coffee. I've had watery shots and pathetic lattes. As an extra bonus, the cafe is filthy. Buy the beans and make your coffee at home. replying to a comment from ARE YOU SERIOUS!! / December 6, 2008 at 01:41 pm
Styrofoam, polystyrene actually, is the most environmental choice.
1/ International Paper makes your "eco" cups, they are the 26th worst polluter in North America-remember acid rain? They cause it still.
2/ Contributing cause of global warming-deforestation, paper cups are not made of recycled paper.
3/Paper cups, while biodegradable, only breakdown in a compost-how many take out cups make it to your kitchen to be composted? When disposed of in the garbage they are one of the worst things for a landfill.
4/Paper cups take an estimated 6-7 times as much energy to make, not including the oil for the chainsaws to cut the trees or the diesel fuel for shipping heavy paper products. Energy=emissions.
Ever hear of greenwashing? Do your homework.

oreol replying to a comment from ARE YOU SERIOUS!! / December 14, 2008 at 01:01 am
Are you serious~~~ true say!!!! TRUE ALL THE WAY~~ i totally agree with "are you serious~" about the place... it's so filthy, i don't see me coming back to the place looking that clumsy~~~
also what is THE DEAL with this website putting it as the top of the cafe list? there gotta be a better cafe than i deal coffee or tequila bookworm?? man.. give me a break, tequila bookworm coffee tastes so wormy... ewwwww, otherwise it's such a shame living in t.o~~ and THERE ARE!!!! thank god!!!
i recommend greenavi on queen west, that place is always so neat and just so mellow to be in which is why I like to go to cafes in the first place.
Diana / January 12, 2009 at 07:41 pm
The seating area is very limited and not at all comfortable. It is too noisy to sit and chat with friends because of the roasting machine. The cafe reeks with the smell of burnt coffee and the coffee wasn't that great either. Not much to recommend it.
Ed replying to a comment from Diana / April 8, 2009 at 07:39 am
I was in last week on a beautiful spring day (+10) during a walk around Kensington. I usually have my coffee at Moonbeam, but stopped in at Ideal. Granted they were busy, but the staff sure didn't want to be there that day. Grumpy, sloppy and bordering on rude. The coffee was barely acceptable (latte) and the cake was served on a dirty plate. When I noted the plate I actually got an eye-roll. I expect they were having a bad day. I've heard from friends that they are usually pretty good.
Rob / April 23, 2009 at 11:48 am
I agree with the general sentiment... the owner needs to spend
a little more effort in cleanliness..kinda passing Bohemian on it's way to Dump... Don't take my word for it...order a tea and note the crochet warmer which hasn't been washed in never. They have an opportunity to make it a far better experience than Starbucks..
relaxed atmosphere, personal touch, but are coming up short.
Bon / May 9, 2009 at 03:24 pm
I love this place!!! I ran into it many years back and it's been my favorite coffee shop ever since.

I am not a coffee person so I drink my coffee with lots of sugar and cream. I can imagine how many people are shaking their heads at me right now. But At Ideal Coffee I was able drink espresso like how it supposed to be drunk. And my coffee with only bit of sugar.

I find it a point to go there everytime I am near the neighbourhood and introduce my friends. (Who always falls in love with the place.)
Erin / June 14, 2009 at 06:50 pm
Despite the grumbles listed above, decided to try i deal out. The staff was friendly, the coffee good, and the seating outdoors sunny. I eyed one of the tea warmers and it looked clean to me as was the cup and the plate that I used. If you want bells and whistles with your coffee perhaps then try a shop where you pay nearly $5 for your coffee but at $3 for a latte I will definitely be back for some i deal coffee!
mitjak replying to a comment from Erin / November 16, 2009 at 09:03 am
That review is from over 2 years ago. Here's hoping you're right, Eric, and that they've cleaned up their act a little.
smiley / February 3, 2010 at 11:20 pm
Another place Frank reviews that I like! Their coffee is very very strong and I like it. And it's right beside the Rosedale ;)
sarahp replying to a comment from styrofoam grr / February 13, 2010 at 07:49 pm
To the poster who said that styrofoam is better for the environment, NO. Styrofoam is just plain CHEAPER than paper cups. My uncle runs a convenience store and a CASE (1000 cups) of styrofoam cups costs about $1.60. I don't know what paper cups cost but for sure it's way way way more than that.
sarahp replying to a comment from styrofoam grr / February 13, 2010 at 07:53 pm
What's with all the questionable glowing reviews of IDeal? I've been there couple of times, and the coffee is terrible. Better at the beanguy around the corner south on Augusta. I'm not even sure the store has a name but the portuguese man that runs it makes a far better and consistent coffee.
mouse replying to a comment from Allan / March 30, 2010 at 11:43 pm
Best Coffee Ever ? ? ? You GOTTA BE KIDDIN ME.
You must also like the dirty socks they use in place of sleeves for their latte cups. Here dark roast = burnt. Try instead the little corner shop at Augusta/Baldwin. Nice coffee and just sit outside and watch the street go by.
Daniel replying to a comment from / June 15, 2011 at 12:47 pm
Styrofoam is recyclable.
"9 Dec 2008 ... As of December 9th, Toronto's Blue Bin program will start accepting plastic shopping bags and foam polystyrene packaging"

Do your research.

I agree that Styrofoam is a terrible container for a cup of coffee, but only because it affects the smell and taste. So does the wax from paper cups though.

All Independent coffee shops seem to face the same problem/criticism, about their ability or inability to make you not feel guilty about being a consumer.

Face it, we live in a capitalist society. These independent businesses are competing against huge corporations/franchises like starbucks and tim hortons. Cut some slack for the small guys when they're just trying to produce some profit.
Arby / May 26, 2012 at 08:30 pm
Well said Daniel. Actually, I also appreciated beanguy's comment. Maybe (I am not expert here.) he got some things wrong, but he cares. We can use more of that. I do feel, however, that as long as no one has bad intentions and they want to add to our understanding of important issues, then there is no reason to be harsh. Beanguy may or may not have been talking to someone specifically, which would matter. Regardless, If one is responding to a flamer, it's always wise to think twice. 9 times out of 10, ignoring the flamer is the way to go. Otherwise, Let's have friendly discussions about important subjects related to coffee, informing ourselves. Let's face it, special (capitalist) interests 'only' care about profits. They love to tell us how wonderful they are and what good hands we're in when we just leave them be (neoliberal capitalism). As Chris Hedges recently noted, crazy capitalists are only burning and melting the planet ( So let's talk - outside the mainstream media and out of isolation in our living rooms where mind numbing programming (both ends) is happening in front of tv sets.

Now, Was I imagining things or did I roll past a new I Deal Coffee somewhere? I thought I might see it here.

Been to the one on Ossington by the way. It's charming spot. It has heart. You don't have to have huge resources to pour into a place for that to be the case. The shot was okay. I wasn't wowed for sure. But I'm rarely wowed anywhere, at least not all the time.
Jarvis Emerald / October 30, 2012 at 06:48 pm
I JUST made a Video Review on I Deal. I have been coming off and on for a while, and love it. Also, I lived in the Market for a while. - Check out the video.
Anthony / March 9, 2014 at 05:51 pm
True hipster coffee joint..Austin Texas grungy it's scruffiness !

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