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Rachel's Coffee House

Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on July 21, 2012

Rachel's Coffee HouseRachel's Coffee House is a new independent (key word) cafe by a pair of longtime Toronto coffee veterans. Maria Chan and her husband, Jack, owned a Second Cup franchise in the Eaton Centre for more than a decade.

"Thirteen years," Maria says, as we take a seat in her new cafe. "The one near the Bay, that was us."

Rachel's Coffee HouseBut after years of following franchise rules, Maria and her husband thought it was time to give it an independent go.

"We had a solid business and a good relationship with our customers," she says. "But we felt that there were too many limitations. Things that we wanted to do, we couldn't do."

Rachel's Coffee HouseSome of those things included sourcing beans from a local roastery, and serving only fair trade, organic coffee (now at Rachel's à la Mountain View Coffee). The couple also wanted to emphasize products made with natural ingredients with few, if any, preservatives.

Rachel's Coffee House"We didn't want to offer anything we wouldn't serve to Rachel," Maria says. The couple's daughter (also, of course, the cafe's namesake) is happily typing away at a laptop at a nearby table. Rachel's Coffee House is deceptively spacious with two areas of seating and a cozy front patio area. Maria says the space was vacant when they came across it, so they quickly decked it out with modern hanging lamps, upholstered chairs, and patterned wallpaper. Needless to say, it doesn't feel like Second Cup.

Rachel's Coffee HouseBut the biggest differences, of course, lie in is offerings. There's a long list of espresso drinks with almond lattes ($3.60/$4.25) and other alternatives listed right on the menu. The shop also offers specialty blended drinks such as pina coladas (virgin, of course), strawberry mango smoothies, and vanilla creme drinks ($4.25). Maria also shows off the shop's collection of Tea Forte organic and fair trade teas, which can be ordered in the cafe ($2.75) or taken home.

Rachel's Coffee HouseBut I'm a coffee drinker, of course, so I set my eyes on the La Marzocco machine and order an Americano ($2.25). Exploring the baked goods while I wait, Maria tells me they bake fresh croissants each morning in house, while sourcing most of the other goods from local businesses in the area (including an assortment of gluten-free eats).

Rachel's Coffee HouseMy Americano comes piping hot with a bit of a fruity flavour, coating the tongue quite nicely and soon giving me the buzz I was hoping for. I can't remember the last time I had a coffee from Second Cup (and here's the part where I give the impression where I'm a coffee snob...), but I'm sure it was nothing like this.

Maria says she and her husband are thinking of adding in sandwiches in the future, along with a few new other ideas for their cafe. And no longer under franchisee rules, I suppose they can do that now.

Rachel's Coffee HousePhotos by Irina No



melissa / July 21, 2012 at 09:19 am
Is there wifi? How do they feel about people coming in with laptops to work for hours?
James / July 21, 2012 at 11:02 am
This place is right down the street from where I live. It's so wonderful having a wonderful option to the big chain coffee places. Rachel's has a very inviting and warm interior and
The latte I had was amazingly balanced. The service was Great, and the owners were cool with my fiancé and I sitting on their little patio out front and playing scrabble. Check it out! Good looking snacks too!
Brennan / July 21, 2012 at 12:20 pm
This place looks great. Going to have to give it a try.
Jack / July 21, 2012 at 02:59 pm
Also Tabule right beside it is pretty good too!
Amy / July 21, 2012 at 07:32 pm
I'm excited to see they've finally opened! I'll definitely be stopping in for an almond latte soon. :9
Maria replying to a comment from melissa / July 21, 2012 at 08:04 pm
Melissa, we have free wifi and you are more than welcome to come with your laptop. Thank you.
sumit / July 23, 2012 at 11:39 am
nice, good addtion to younge and eglintion. good alternative to Bulldog. looks spacious and comfortable. one thing i have noticed in cafes in Toronto is the way people conduct themselves (doesn't apply to everyone of course), which ruins my plan to enjoy my coffee in peace and focus. I can imagine me sittin on one of those chairs and having to listen to some douche talking unncessarily loud about what he is working on right now, like he wants everybody else to hear about it. i wish he would speak at low/normal volume, loud enough so that person he is addressing sitting right in front of him can hear it or some stupid chick bitching about something completely unimportant. please folks, have common sene, and keep it to yourself. Good luck to new business owners, will be dropping by soon.
Wendy / July 23, 2012 at 11:54 am
Best of luck Maria and Jack. You were wonderful franchisees and I am sure your new venture will be a great success!
Colchester2 / July 26, 2012 at 04:43 pm
The croissants are excellent! Pleasant atmosphere. Friendly staff. I'll be back
Danita / July 28, 2012 at 11:11 am
I went here last week and absolutely loved it. So inviting, the owners were incredibly friendly and helpful. It's definitely my new fave uptown hang out.
LT / July 31, 2012 at 09:38 pm
tea is served in an adorable little tea pot with a tray and mini milk, very cute :)
Janice / August 7, 2012 at 04:50 pm
how late will you be open? I often find that I come out of a movie or want to meet friends and we cannot find anything that is open past 10 pm.
Jessica / September 30, 2012 at 06:17 pm
Are there any vegan options in regards of the food? Also, do you offer the option of putting soymilk in your lattes?
jane / October 11, 2012 at 10:13 am
this is a great place! the vibe is casual and welcoming. best carrot cake
i've had at a coffee shop and the coffee was really good. my goodness
everyone was so friendly and the bathrooms were awesome. go here.
Mimi / November 14, 2012 at 07:47 pm
Not only is this coffee delicious (understatement), it's made with focus, enthusiasm, and talent (not to mention it's organic and fairtrade-superb!). I LOVE the latte's and if there is time, sometimes I get the gift of art engraved on top with microfoam! The owners exude kindness and are definitely part of the entire positive experience! I am now a regular every Saturday morning and I am a very happy girl!
M / March 29, 2013 at 02:07 pm
Honestly, the best coffee shop in the area. LOVE
Helen / November 7, 2013 at 09:48 am
Rachel's is the little slice of happiness that has become my morning ritual - large americano + 1 (sometimes 2) gluten free cookies, except for when I succomb to the nose breaking aromas of Maria's freshly baked scones or croissants! The pumkin apple scone is becoming a serious problem for my diet :) Beyond the coffee, pastries and food that are always steller, nothing beats the hospitality and friendliness of Jack, Maria and Gretti, they are truly fantastic and make the experience delightful every time!LOVE!
Gordon T Bailey / July 3, 2014 at 09:14 pm
A very important morning ritual for me and I always feel at ease. The staff are nothing short of stellar and there is nothing fake about this place, the real deal.
Alex Knoll / April 16, 2015 at 04:09 pm
It was great reading about Maria and Jack's story. I just visited for the first time and I absolutely love this place! The environment is great and the staff are SO nice and accommodating. The menu is very impressive and well-priced. I had a plain iced coffee and it was one of the best (if not the best) that I've ever had. I work right down the street and I don't know why I've never come before! I look forward to becoming a regular customer at Rachel's :)

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