Cafe Con Leche


Who likes coffee? Who likes coffee shops just as much ? My hand was up for both. I start off every morning with a nice cup of java, and once the caffeine hits my blood stream, I’m good to go…….probably to a coffee shop at some point during the day.

By coffee shop, I mean a Local Coffee Shop……a place that has character, charm, uniqueness, and freedom of expression.

R.I.P my fellow coffee drinkers if you are currently shackled by the corporate chain. You are probably not even aware that there is a better way to live. Marketing has bought and sold you many times at the behest of the shareholders. I’m sure you have noticed that the coffee or donuts don’t taste as good as they once did but………..for some reason you’ll still wait 15 cars deep to get a “double double”.

For those of you who want an alternative to the cookie cutter, cardboard, plastic monopoly, may I suggest you try a local shop. These shops give you everything that you want, currently have……..and more.

I frequent CS’s for many reasons other than coffee. Coffee shops give me a venue to talk politics, rekindle friendships, discuss how I could make the Greyhounds Memorial Cup champs LOL, and obviously a place to enjoy my java. I also enjoy sitting in a comfortable chair while I listen to Indie music and surf the net. Free WiFi is also an added bonus ; but…..the most important reason I like the local shops is that I get genuine unhurried service. A kind barista at Westport (Station Mall) informed me as I was writing this article that when she worked at a certain “C.S.” wink wink, the employees were given a set window of only a couple minutes to go through customers. There was no friendly banter and chit chat at that outfit ; NEXT !!!!!!

Local shops can also give you entertainment and art ; some will bring in entertainment for an acoustic night, some will have poetry readings, and some will even have knitting classes (Without Me !). The food and snacks are also healthier, and the baking Is Fresh…..unlike the Top Guns who market it as fresh when in all honesty it’s shipped in frozen from TO.

The local shops are also known for their specialties ; Cafe Natura is known for it’s tasty soup, Q Cafe for it’s salads, Shabby Motley gives you the Canadiano (espresso, hot water and maple syrup), and Westport gives you an apple fritter the size of a baseball mitt. These are the reasons I keep going back……….and you will to.

Over the years I have become jaded to the big coffee chains. All they care about it is $$$. I agree that money and profit are motivating factors in life, but I don’t have to support greed. These coffee chains all started out with a good product and great customer service, but something happened..You see, once excessive success took over, it was impossible to stop the train.

Once the train of profit picks up momentum, you can throw everything that made them successful out the window. You will no longer have great customer service ; “keep the line moving, let’s go , let’s go”. You can throw quality out the window as well ; if you are selling many different breakfast, lunch, and dinners etc, how can you pay attention to detail ? At this point, cost cutting is primary and the only winner is the shareholders.

The odd time, I have no choice but to sneak into the lair of the corporate monster and I tell ya, I feel like George in the Soup Nazi episode of Seinfeld. You stand in line, place your order, and step six paces to the left and wait at the pickup counter. Nothing warms my heart like mindless precision. Structure in life is good, but too much plastic can be overkill.

Luckily for these companies, their customers are brainwashed. Just drive down Brock at 8 am ; you’ll see cars cued 20 deep waiting 15 minutes to yell their orders into a box.

Aside from greed, the Top Gunners have lost their raison d’etre. They have also claimed the lives of a couple friends of mine. Dish Espresso Bar and Cafe passed away recently, and I still mourn the loss of an old time friend, The Steamy Bean.

One day I plan on opening up my own little coffee shop, and when I do, it will be in memory of all the soldiers that lost the battle with the Empire. She will be unique, independent, and charisma will flow through her veins.
Cafe Con Leche ………………………opening sometime eventually.

Ernest Skinner

Ernest Skinner
Ernest Skinner was born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie and attended Humber College after high school. He has a passion for other cultures and has traveled throughout Mexico and many South American countries.. He has written many articles over the years that deal with events happening here in Sault Ste. Marie. Reading about ancient civilizations, world politics, and mysteries of the unknown are also defining factors that are his general makeup. Outside of being serious, he has a bright sense of humor that was molded from shows like Seinfeld to The Simpsons. Ernest is a columnist


  1. I share your sentiment about the Big chain shops. The quality has declines as fast as the service level and the profit rise.They are a constant source of frustration with the line ups caused my the coffee zombies that wait on the road to enter the drive through.There is little to praise for the decor or environment that herds customers (consumers to them) like cattle to simply get a cup of coffee most could have made at home in less time than it took to drive to the line up. You can now see the heavy competition for the mindless masses that still flock to the beat of big corporate song. Anyway, as for me I still enjoy my tea at home and enjoy the occasional coffee at a local shop as well.
    Good article, Hopefully, many will awaken before they get that corporate cup.

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