So, McDonald's has launched a coffee promotion. Free coffee. I have even been assured that their new coffee is actually good. But people, don't fall for it! This is McDonalds we are talking about. This is the same multinational monster that has convinced the world that the height of culture can be stuffed into a sesame seed bun and wrapped in paper. This is the company that is deforesting the planet to raise cattle only to be ground into lifeless flat grey patties. This is the same incubus that seduces tourists in such exotic locales as rome, cairo and bangkok away from trying the authentic tastes of the local mom and pop restaurants in favour of something safe and familiar. This is the same company that encourages us to sit in line in drive thrus with our engines idleing and spewing carbon into the air instead of finding fresh food at a local grocer or market. This is the company that has convinced us that fast is better than good, and convenient is more important than wholesome. So don't be fooled, the coffee may be free, but it is still too high a price to pay.
But don't you stand their all smug while waiting to pick up you venti half-caf latte. Sure Starbucks may talk of ethics and sustainabilty, but it too is a monolithic multinational. So is our beloved Timmy's. All these places seek to level our culture, to replace character with consistency, and to limit the choices we have. These huge coffee empires compete unfairly with your friends and neighbours who try to run little neighbourhood coffee shops. Don't get me wrong, I am no more righteous than you. I love my soy latte with an extra shot, I love the convenience of being able to get my coffee on every street corner. But maybe we should try a little harder to support our local coffee purveyors.
Every neighbourhood has one or more little coffee spots. The owner might be behind the counter pouring your java. In Wolesley we have the Neighbourhood Cafe and bookstore, in the exchange we have the Fyxx, Downtown we have Twist Cafe and Voila cafe, St. james has Roka Jacks, Brandon has Forbidden flavours. Go up stairs to DeLuca's for a great espresso. When at the mall, don't go to Tim's but walk over to McNally Robinson's. Pop into Stella's. Satisfy your sweet tooth by checking out Baked Expectations or Dessert Sinsations. Visit your favourite local cafe, diner or bistro. Every neighbourhood has it's own unique choices. Every one of those spots has its own characters and story.
And don't forget to support our local roasters. We don't need to import our coffee from Seattle, or even Vancouver. We have Black Pearl, Sunstone, Wellington's, DeLuca's and Green Bean all roasting locally. They all offer a variety of roasts and beans, with many fair trade and organic options. Next time you are standing in line waiting for you grande chai moccacinno, and the smiling lip pierced teenager behind the counter ask you how you would like you coffee, politeley reply, "Locally roasted, please".
Next time you need your caffeine hit, don't pull into the nearest drive-thru superchain, go the extra block and check out a neighbourhood coffee spot.
What is your favourite local coffee shop? Post a comment and let us know.