Merchants of Green Coffee owners Derek (left) and Brad Zavislake want to educate us about coffee ethics.
Despite its obscure location - off an on-ramp to the DVP - Merchants of Green Coffee (2 Matilda, at Carroll, 416-778-6600) has been a huge success with ethically minded coffee consumers since opening back in 94. Once they find it, mind.
Housed in a ramshackle industrial building, Merchants describes itself as "a business that creates financial and social wealth without degrading the productive and aesthetic capacity of the environment for both present and future generations." To that end, only sustainable, small-farm, fair trade, certified green Arabica beans from as far afield as Africa, the Pacific and the Americas are imported. Roasted on site, the beans are available straight or custom-blended, either wholesale or retail.
In fact, educating the public about coffee's complexities is one of Merchants' major missions. Besides recently launching a funky café on the premises, the company also holds regular coffee consciousness-raising seminars, the next two The Alchemy Of Brewing, November 8, and Advanced Coffee Tasting, December 13.
Scarborough's aptly named Dark City (410 McLevin, at Neilson, 416-282-2307) has been around even longer, first as a hugely popular coffee house on the Danforth back in the 80s and now as Toronto's leading roaster. Beans, both fair trade organic and not so fair trade non-organic, are available in more than 40 roasts, including some from Papua New Guinea and the Galapagos Islands, and are hand-roasted to order within 24 hours. Better yet, with a minimum 2-pound order, delivery is free in the GTA.