I’d like to publicly apologize to i deal coffee. Since this little coffee shop opened on Dalhousie nearly three years ago, I have made a number of derogatory comments to my wife about the place. “It’ll never last.” “Who’s going to go to that shack when there’s a Starbucks and Bridgehead just up the street?” “Good luck surviving at this end of Dalhousie.” That kind of thing.
In recent months, though, I’ve grown tired of the inconsistent coffee at most of my regular haunts. Paying $4.00 for a bad latté at Starbucks started to seem foolish, and I was willing to forgive Tim’s for its watery brew until Roll Up The Rim To Win season came to an end.
So, a couple of weeks ago, I stopped by i deal coffee on the way to work and fell in love with the little place. It’s the antithesis of the shiny, modern coffee conglomerate. The furnishings are spartan – just a few booths, an old Ms. Pac-Man game in the corner, a large bean roaster, and a grinder. The vibe is funky and relaxed, with cool music streaming from a laptop.
The coffee is great. The beans are roasted and ground on site, so the coffee is really fresh. A large coffee, in a plain Styrofoam cup with absolutely no advertising, is just $1.50. The scones come from the local bakery instead of being trucked in from the pastry factory in Toronto. It’s a little oasis in a busy part of town.
So why didn’t I try i deal earlier? I blame it on a lack of character on my part. I fell for the marketing hype – “Starbucks is a lifestyle, not just a cup of coffee.” I gave hundreds of dollars to a big corporation and didn’t give a cent to the little independent place I passed every day on the way to work. For shame, for shame.
As it turns out, i deal coffee has developed a great reputation. It originally started in Toronto with a shop in Kensington Market, and coffee geeks sing its praises on on-line forums. With four shops, it looks like there are a lot of people who are turning away from the usual suspects in search of something tastier and more socially responsible. I’m just sorry it took me three years to get there.