Wellness lattes are the hottest trend at Toronto coffee shops
Wellness lattes, elixir lattes, superdrinks...new beverages are creeping onto the menus of Toronto's cafes, and they go by many names. Where once there was a choice between drip and espresso, a new section has made its way into the mix: wellness.
The idea that a latte can make you "well" or somehow boost your health may seem a little preposterous at first, but those ever in search of a quick fix to feel better about their lifestyle have made the concept of wellness lattes into a real market in Toronto.
"The goal is always to see our locals more than once a day, certainly from a business perspective, but also on a human connections level...the relationship changes once we go from just grabbing a coffee at 8 a.m. to also unwinding on a break at 3 p.m.," says Simone Bominy, Regional Operations Manager for NYC-based chain Bluestone Lane.
"I think that wellness drinks is a way of interpreting needs for a generation that is more invested in health as a facet of lifestyle than the one before it," says Bominy.
Bluestone Lane is home to almond milk wellness lattes that come in beet, matcha and turmeric varieties. "Doesn't hurt that the wellness drinks are so pretty/Instagrammable as well," she adds.
"You see colorful pictures of wellness lattes on Instagram and other influencer channels and that helps with pushing the message and raise curiosity," says Pardeep Shahi of Wise & Wright, a Calgary-based chain.
"We've had people come in to try them just because they loved the pictures online to people coming in because they love the health benefits.
"Our Elixir Lattes are packed with nutritional benefits and combined with plant based milks. What makes them so special is a combination of the health benefits, the unique taste and the inclusivity of the drink being both vegan and gluten-free."
This points to health as a facet of lifestyle for Torontonians: not only can they eschew animal ingredients, they can actually improve their health a little while they're at it.
"Torontonians take great pride in their health, we have many higher end gyms in the City, including Equinox, Barry's as well as Goodlife's that are regularly busy. We are seeing a push for more bike lanes and more and more health food concepts opening the city," says Shahi.
It's not only fast casual cafes getting into the game: sit-down restaurant Shook has a caffeine-free beet and roses latte on their menu.
"A quick, on-the-go beverage with an Instagrammable aesthetic, wellness lattes fit seamlessly into the lives of health-conscious consumers. At Shook, we've created a vegetarian menu, including these specialized lattes, that honours both of these trends," says a spokesperson from the restaurant.
For them, it's also about creativity. "The wellness latte trend allows Shook to put our creative spin on the typical latte, incorporating ingredients that are often found in Middle Eastern cuisine."
One of the first cafes to offer a primarily wellness-based menu in Toronto was Nutbar, home to "superpowered elixir tonics," "crafted using some of the world's most powerful and potent plant medicines to restore, tone and invigorate systems in the body and to promote general health and well-being."
"If you're someone who needs caffeine in the morning, you can swap your standard drip coffee for a suped-up matcha latte," says Nutbar owner Kate Taylor Martin.
"Matcha has a much more sustained release of caffeine than coffee and provides jitter-free energy. You can add in some medicinal mushrooms like chaga, which provides a serious boost of antioxidants, and then sprinkle in some collagen, which is the most abundant protein in our body.
"There's more attention, interest and research being paid to the power of foods in making us feel good. And as a result people are looking for easy ways to incorporate superfoods into their everyday routines. Lattes are the obvious choice because most people start their day with some sort of morning coffee or tea ritual."
Hector Vasquez at Bluestone Lane
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