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Small Business, Neighbourhood Gem: Toronto’s Mofer Coffee

Click to play video: 'Small Business, Neighbourhood Gem: Toronto café stays open serving Ethiopian coffee' Small Business, Neighbourhood Gem: Toronto café stays open serving Ethiopian coffee
WATCH ABOVE: Mofer Coffee, which has two locations, specializes in Ethiopian coffee beans. Melanie Zettler drops by the Danforth location to get a taste and a coffee history lesson. – Jul 16, 2020
“Coffee [started in] Ethiopia. That’s why we call it the birthplace of coffee,” said Milkyas Tefera, the owner of two Mofer Coffee shops in Toronto.

Tefera started his Canadian coffee business by exporting and importing green coffee beans from his home country of Ethiopia for distribution across Canada, but then came the idea to open a retail space where he could share his love of Ethiopian coffee with residents.

“Coffee is Ethiopian culture,” said Mofer Coffee marketing manager, Katie Teffera (no relation to Milkyas Tefera).

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“It’s not fuel to get through the day. Coffee is special. It’s important. The way you would treat wine is how we treat coffee.”

Mofer Coffee opened on St. Clair Avenue West three years ago and in November, the second location on Danforth Avenue opened. It’s all part of a bigger plan to open 10 coffee shops in and around the Greater Toronto Area with more in other Canadian cities.

“The Ethiopian coffee is different character. We have almost 10,000 type(s) of coffee,” said Tefera.

“I don’t know a lot about a lot of things, but I know a lot about coffee.”

Tefera described the history of coffee, saying the story dates back many centuries ago to the highlands of Ethiopia when a goat herder noticed the excited behaviour of his herd after they ate bright red berries from a cluster of shrubs.

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“The goats eating the bean and they dancing and they excited,” he said.

In this case, the beans are single-origin, handpicked and roasted before your eyes. It takes five minutes to roast five pounds of coffee and customers can enjoy drip coffee or espresso-based cups along with the “steep and filter” method which uses a cotton filter.

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Teffera said the two locations remained open during Ontario’s lockdown period, serving customers through delivery and online orders because there had been such momentum with the relationship with the local communities — particularly along The Danforth where the shop was still new. Customers can now enter the shop for takeaway orders.

The café was nominated to be featured in the Global News series Small Business, Neighbourhood Gem by Kathleen Dennis, an east-end resident and member of the Facebook Group Your East End Community Stores are Online for You.

The Facebook group grew to almost 6,000 members in two months and was started to help small businesses succeed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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