COFFEE, CAFES & BAKERIES
NESTLED NEAR A HISTORIC FIRE STATION, KRAVE COFFEE IS THE DREAM PROJECT OF OWNER CALAY HALL.
Calay is passionate about coffee, her shop and keeping things local.
How long have you, and Krave, been in the St. Clair West neighbourhood?
I opened Krave on July 3, 2015. I’ve lived in the neighbourhood since May of that same year. I had friends who used to live on Atlas Ave prior to that, so I knew the neighbourhood.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’ve lived in Toronto since 1998. I first went to U of T for Life Sciences but I switched to a Commerce Degree at Ryerson University. The focus was hospitality and tourism, but my first job after university was in finance. I moved to the Cayman Islands for four years and when I came back to Toronto, I noticed how many third wave coffee shops had opened up since I left.
What’s a third wave coffee shop?
The first wave happened when coffee started being served in restaurants en masse. You had donut stores and diners and places like that. The second wave happened with Starbucks and Second Cup, the gourmet specialty coffee shops, but ones that were still chains, still dealing with the mass product of coffee. The third wave happened when you started to see local independent coffee shops spring up.
These coffee shops treated coffee more like wine; focusing on smaller batches and greater care taken with the beans. This approach led to a more direct relationship with the farmer, basically cutting out the middle man.
This not only makes better coffee because more care is taken with the bean but it’s a better deal for the farmers as well. Fair Trade is one thing but Direct Trade is even better.
What made you think St. Clair West was where you wanted to be located?
I was just checking around, looking at different neighbourhoods and this one seemed right. There wasn’t really any other coffee shop in the immediate vicinity. I fell in love with the building. It’s old and beautiful. There were lots of young families moving into the neighbourhood.
What makes St. Clair West so special?
It’s a pocket in the big city. When you’re here, you feel like you’re in a smaller city. Everyone is so approachable; the people and the businesses. There’s such a mix of old world and new places. So many businesses in the neighbourhood are independent. We’ve got everything here. It’s a real community. Everything you need in your life is right around the corner. People work together. I’ve partnered with so many other small businesses in the neighbourhood. It’s been great.
Is there a spirit of St. Clair, and if so, how would you describe it?
It’s a real community. There’s such a community vibe. It’s safe. Everyone seems to know everybody else. So many times, in my coffee shop, I see friends running into other friends. How often do you see that anywhere else?
What would you say to someone who was thinking about moving to the neighbourhood?
You couldn’t get a better neighbourhood.
It’s a pocket in the big city. When you’re here, you feel like you’re in a smaller city. Everyone is so approachable, the people and the businesses.
Find your inspiration.
Whether you prefer to start your mornings with a perfectly crumbly scone and tea combo, or an unbelievably authentic croissant and café au lait, St. Clair Ave W. abounds with coffee shops, bakeries and baristas ready to take your order.
Heritage and artisanal flair is alive everywhere you stop along St. Clair Ave W, with a great deal of thought and consideration given to every manner of culinary craft. Here you’ll find French, Portuguese, Greek and more heavenly bakeries, along with Lion, Mofer, Krave and Kurtis and Bob Coffee houses competing for your approval. Round it all off with its many ice cream parlours and it’s easy to see why St. Clair is such a treat.