Central Coffee Toronto

Toronto church also wants to be an indie cafe

Toronto's Bunz Trading Zone was up in arms recently. And when I read the inflammatory post on Facebook about an Islamophobic and homophobic group called Catch the Fire Ministries that'd supposedly opened the new Central Coffee cafe in Bloorcourt, I got riled up too.

The commenters, however, seemed to switch gears a bit after a leader from the GTA-based Catch the Fire church - who's behind the cafe in question - shared a letter saying that despite sharing a name, his organization was not affiliated with the controversial Australian Catch the Fire Ministries.

"I think people had misunderstood and thought that we were the same organization as that one in Australia," says Benjamin Jackson, Catch the Fire's communications director.

The organization itself is a massive charismatic, evangelical church based near Pearson airport. It has campuses around the world, including many in Toronto. The Central Campus, which mainly attracts young professionals and students, has been moving around the city for the past few years. Its new Bloorcourt home used to be a restaurant, so it was already outfitted for food service.

"One of the big things that they were hoping, or we were hoping for really, was that it could be somewhere that could be open more than just Sundays," Jackson explains. Opening a cafe made sense.

It brews Propeller Coffee and opens at 8 a.m. during the week. It's right inside the church's main worship space and includes a few tables as well as WiFi. When I pop in, I spot a few students huddled over their laptops, a mother and son doing crafts and a older man playing solitaire.

While it's a community space for churchgoers, it also beckons to passersby with slick-looking branding and exterior signage advertising summery iced mochas. Although Central Coffee doesn't appear to be hiding behind its latte art and frothy treats.

"There's not really a spiritual agenda with the coffee shop," Jackson says. "But it really just tries to be, you know, what the church has been for centuries, which is a place of refuge and a place where people can come and seek God and find out more. And the coffee shop is a sort of way to make that a little less intimidating than perhaps coming to church itself."

But of course that's why it's there. And if that's not what someone's looking for with their morning joe, there are plenty more indie cafes in the neighbourhood.


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