I live in downtown Toronto near Yonge and Bloor and I am surrounded by Starbucks and Second Cup establishments. I have no problem with these coffeehouses, but I always did like the idea of finding a coffeehouse to call my own that was not part of a chain. My favorite coffeehouse in Toronto is Little Nicky’s on Queen West near Spadina, but it is not walking distance for me. Their mini donuts are quite delightful….
Back to my story. In December I learned that a coffeehouse was opening up near my apartment building. As in literally down the street. No more than a 5 minute walk. How exciting! I did not get an opportunity to visit this coffeehouse named Cafe M until last week when I visited with a friend. I have to admit, I had high expectations and I was pleased with what I saw. It was small, cozy, and again, close to my place. I browsed the menu and noticed that they did not have a plain grilled cheese sandwich as an option. So I opted to wait for the owner to return from her errand to ask her if I could get a plain grilled cheese. In the mean time my friend and I both ordered coffees. My friend likes to put powder cinnamon in her coffee and I like to add milk and sugar to mine. Once we had our coffees my friend and I spent the next hour catching up. An hour or so later the owner walked in and I introduced myself and asked her if I could take some pictures of her coffee shop for my blog and if I could get a plain grilled cheese. She said yes to both.
The grilled cheese I received was very good. Nice golden and crispy bread with a lot of melted cheese in the middle. I had no complaints. But it was from this point forward that things started going south. While I was eating my grilled cheese my friend mentioned that she wanted to get another coffee. I got up and offered to go get it for her. I walked up to the cash register and asked the girl behind the counter for another coffee. Note that they do not have refills, so this was a NEW cup of coffee. I let the girl do her thing and then I brought the coffee back to my friend. I asked my friend if she wanted cinnamon, and she said no. She did not want cinnamon in this cup.
My friend was getting ready to leave (I was staying back to take pictures) and she was staring at the bottom of her glass. I asked her what the problem was. At the bottom of her cup there was a pool of cinnamon. What? How is that possible? I walked over to the cash register to pay and asked the girl at the cash why there was cinnamon at the bottom of my friend’s cup. She said something like this, “oh I poured the coffee in the original cup and then I realized that I should use a new cup and so I dumped the coffee in a new cup.” Just like that she said it. Very nonchalant. The worst part was that the owner was standing right behind her and said NOTHING! At this point was I upset. Ok, if it was a free refill, fine. Pour it in the original cup. But this? My friend did not want cinnamon in this new cup and if she did, she would have requested it or done it herself. Their “whatever” attitude and then charging full price for everything even though my friend did not get what she ordered (a new cup of coffee!) just turned me off completely. If anything like this had happened at a chain coffeehouse we would have been at least apologized to. My friend then admitted to me that she knew the coffee tasted odd but she did not want to say anything about it because she thought that the owner was my friend.
Look, I get it. People make mistakes and that is understandable specially at a new establishment. And it would not have been a big deal if the owner had not just stood there mute as I expressed my unhappiness with the situation and then to further have her tell me the total (full price).
Service and food quality are critical determining factors on whether I will return to a restaurant/coffeehouse or not. At Cafe M the space was cute, the coffee was fine and the service lacking. Will I return? No. I rather go to a chain and get the proper service. And if they mess up and not take responsibility, I at least have the option to follow-up with head office.
I will adhere to my end of the bargain and post pictures of the coffeehouse. As I always say, this is my opinion and this of course is subjective.