These indie cafés aren’t just great for your morning espresso run—they also help you do good
By Laura Hensley
There’s nothing better than a fresh cup of coffee to start your day. Well, there is one thing: fresh and ethically sourced java, with a side of social enterprise. We’ve rounded up the best coffee shops around the GTA that serve fair trade or organic coffee, are environmentally conscious and give back to the community. You heard it here first: these seven cafés are ones you can feel good about supporting.
This non-profit café in Markham supports and employs adults with special needs. Stop by Wayne’s Cup for a freshly baked cupcake, or grab a hot coffee to go—you’ll also be supporting the shop’s life skills program, which teaches those with developmental delays important tasks, including food preparation, money management and household chores. 9889 Markham Road, Unit 4, Markham, Ont. 905-471-0808
Fair Grounds not only sells organic and fair-trade coffee sourced from regions in Latin America, Indonesia, and Africa, they roast it themselves, too. If you want to enjoy a latté while reading a magazine, visit their cute Etobicoke cafe on Lake Shore Boulevard. And just down the road in Mississauga, you’ll find their roastery and second café, where you can buy freshly ground coffee or pick up a bag of beans to take home. Café, 3785 Lake Shore Blvd. W., Toronto, 416-251-CAFÉ. Café and roastery, 1106 Ogden Ave., Mississauga, Ont., 905-990-6100.
Located just across the street from Trinity Bellwoods Park, this Queen West coffee shop is a hotspot for locals and tourists alike. But we don’t just love its cool location; White Squirrel serves up fair-trade and organic coffee, freshly-baked treats and some of the best ice cream in town—and its convenient take-out window makes picking up a to-go cup easy. The café also has gender-neutral washrooms and great dine-in glassware, eliminating paper cups whenever possible. 907 Queen St. W., Toronto, 647-428-4478.
Founded by parents of children with disabilities, Dani Café is a social enterprise project run by Dani, an organization that supports adults with physical and cognitive challenges. This kosher eatery sells delicious baked goods and tasty lunch options (hello, mac and cheese!) and all proceeds go back into Dani programming. 501 Clark Avenue West, Thornhill, Ont., 905-889-3264.
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Out of This World is a social enterprise that operates within the Centre for Mental Health and Addiction (CAMH). The café and catering company, which has two locations in downtown Toronto, employs members of the community who are dealing with mental health and addiction issues—and they serve up a pretty awesome cup of joe too. (There are also tasty baked goods on offer, plus breakfast and lunch items.) 100 Stokes St., Toronto, 416-535-8501 ext 33006; 250 College St., Toronto, 416-535-5801 ext 33006.
Caledon locals love this hangout for its organic and fair-trade drinks, baked goods—like their celebrated scones—and sandwiches. The Instagram-worthy desserts don’t hurt, either. The café also hosts community events, including fundraisers and art classes, which makes it a great spot to connect with neighbours. 218 Dougall Ave., Caledon, On.
Studio 89 is a non-profit coffee shop and event space that sells fair-trade, organic and rainforest-certified coffee, and vegan and gluten-free snacks. Even better, it’s a social enterprise by the youth-led organization Youth Troopers for Global Awareness, with profits from the café going back into community programming—think, workshops, game nights and film screenings—so you can really feel good about that morning cuppa. 1065 Canadian Place, Unit 104, Mississauga, Ont., 647-400-0455.