Grounds For Optimism: I Deal Coffee
Why 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.
So 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.
In 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."
All 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.