Organizers of the show, which took place Sept. 25 and 26 at the International Centre in Mississauga, welcomed an estimated 1,500 independent coffee and tea retailers, restaurateurs, food-service operators, chain operators and buyers through its doors. The show is a bit of a one-stop shop for those looking for a sampling of what the coffee and tea world might bring to your bakery or café to increase both customer satisfaction and average cheque.
If we could detect a theme, it was indulgence. Custom coffee and tea more and more is seen as a treat in and of itself to be savoured or paired with a small sweet food treat – and so it hits the sweet spot of the bakery industry. Also exhibiting at the show was WOW! Factor Desserts, the Alberta-based hand made dessert wholesaler featuring a display of treats and its latest product guide. Toronto's Dufflet Pastries also had a presence at the show.
Coffee as a treat
At the Heritage Coffee booth you could tell it was fall. Representatives had their new cappuccino mix in season flavours of salted caramel, pumpkin spice and apple cinnamon out for sampling and shared their knowledge of coffee with attendees.
Visitors could learn about and sample coffee from Brazil, the Himalayas, Malawi and other coffee-growing regions. Representatives were there looking for blending partners and distributors to help get their unique coffee bean flavours to the masses.
Ara Azzura had a line of single-cup medium to dark ground coffee with tempting flavours like toasted coconut.
On the equipment side, Saeco showed off a raft of coffee hardware including the stylish Italian Caffitaly S22 coffee machine it distributes in Canada and worldwide. Users can brew a variety of coffees, watch as the milk is added and adjust the cup shelf to a higher position to prevent splashing.
Tea having its time
If the number of tea suppliers is any indication, the tea industry is growing steadily and outpacing coffee. Tea manufacturers such as Tea Affair, Golden Leaf Tea Co., the Metropolitan Tea Company and the Chai Company provided attractive arrays of flavours, a sea of tea, if you will.
For customers on the fence between coffee and tea and perhaps seeking an alternative way to lower their caffeine intake, Wendy Behenna, owner of Distinctly Tea, told us about a combination of white coffee and tea leaves she developed. The “Half Caff” blend combines Rooibos tea with organic white coffee, which has a light tan coloured bean and nutty taste, to create a drink with a lower caffeine content than a regular cup of coffee. “Using the tea to flavour the coffee means there isn’t the addition of any sugary syrups,” Behenna said.
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Chocolate positioned as healthy and decadent
Callebaut brought its rich ground dark and white chocolate to the show in one-kilogram drums. Reps told us the ground chocolate, which works as both a hot and a cold drink (small sample-sized bottles were on offer), can be positioned by restaurants, coffee services and other retail sellers as a “healthy indulgence” when consumed in moderation. They contain cocoa flavanols, naturally preserved through very delicate processing of the cocoa beans, the website says.
Cold brew a hot item
You may have been hearing about cold brew, which unlike cold coffee, never reaches a heated state and so tastes less bitter. Bubba’s Cold Brew, Station Cold Brew Coffee Co. and Hatch Cold Brew Coffee all had interesting custom flavours out for sampling to give restaurants and buyers an idea of this alternative java, which some reps said particularly appeals to younger patrons who are up for new experiences.