Updated: Dec 13, 2019
When creativity meets passion that is when greatness happens! It’s only when we allow ourselves to think differently and push the boundaries, can we develop something truly great. Ali Badreddine co-owner and head barista of Vanta Coffee Club & Eatery in Scarborough is doing just that with his creative crafted espresso-based and tea-based beverages.
It’s fair to say that Ali has coffee in his blood. He grew up in the coffee business, as he started working for major chains throughout his young career. He worked at the likes of Williams, Timothy’s, Starbucks and Aroma. At the age of 18 when his family friend Salih Azmi approached him about opening their own coffee shop, the decision was a no brainer. Ali explained to us that the collection of his experiences leading up to opening Vanta Coffee Club & Eatery (formally known as Café Black Gold) helped him shape the vision for what a great coffee shop should entail.
He has built his cafe under three strict principles;
(1) Get the fundamentals right through attention to detail
(2) Expression through creativity
(3) Customer experience begins the moment they walk through the doors
We asked Ali to elaborate on each of his principles, starting with “Get the fundamentals right through attention to detail.”
“When it comes to coffee, if you are not obsessing over the details, then you are doing your customer a disservice. So many baristas are focused on making the prettiest latte art, that they forget to focus on the things that actually make the drinks taste great. A perfect example is crafting an Americano. You ALWAYS want to pour the hot water into the cup before pulling the shot. If you do it the other way around, you flood the crema which distorts the flavour. Another common mistake I see baristas make is pulling the espresso shot too late. They don’t realize that by leaving the tempered beans in the machine before they pull, the cup and coffee overheat which brings a burnt flavour into the coffee. These are the type of details that we fuss over at Vanta Coffee Club & Eatery, as we want to make sure that our customers get the best!”
He continued onto his next principle “expression through creativity”.
“When I am crafting new drinks to feature on our menu, I allow life experience to drive my creativity. Different moments in life provide me with the opportunity to spark my creative juices. It really doesn’t matter where I am, but I find a lot of my creativity happens when I am at the gym. I find the gym allows me to clear my head from the day to day stresses, and therefore it creates a moment of clarity. My own creativity takes over from there! There are a lot of great ideas out there, so I try to understand them and then figure out how to put my own flair on it.”
Ali finished by explaining to us why understanding when the customer experience starts is so crucial to his business success.
“First impressions mean everything! The moment a customer walks through that door, they begin to build impression of our cafe. Naturally they engage as many senses as possible the moment they enter our shop. From the first greeting, to the branding, to the layout, to the music (note: Mumford and Sons were playing during this conversation – great band!) everything needs to be on point. Although the drinks and food items are our showcase, we want the customer to be excited as they come up to the counter. We want a vibe inside that everyone can enjoy. We want this to be everyone’s go-to spot!”
Ali explained to us that he didn’t learn much about coffee while he worked for the bigger coffee chains, but he does credit them for his obsession about customer experience.
What makes Vanta Coffee Club & Eatery so special? The answer is simple…their beverages! Ali and his development team have put together one of the most innovative and thoughtful menus in the GTA.
There are so many great drinks on the menu, but we recommend trying the following;
Pegasus – This certainly is a can’t miss beverage that is a visually stunning as it tastes. It is a lemon ginger herbal tea with a hint of lychee flavour. What makes this drink so unique is the “magic” behind the colour change. The tea that they use in the drink has butterfly pea flower petals that releases a natural dye and added flavour.
Raspberry White Hot Chocolate – This one is pretty self-explanatory and likely why it’s their most popular. What makes this super special is the perfect combination of the flavour profiles of the raspberry and white hot chocolate! An absolute must on a cold bitter day!
Toronto Fog – You’ve had a London Fog before? Cool…this is way better! Using the inspiration of a London Fog, they’ve created their own version. It’s made with vanilla and caramel which is steeped in with a unique blend of rooibos tea. It brings a punch of flavour and subtle sweetness you just wouldn’t expect coming!
Military Latte – You may have already heard about this famous drink by Hiroshi Sawada. The Vanta Coffee Club & Eatery version was inspired by the original, but has their own twist. This Military Latte includes; espresso, premium matcha, and white chocolate! This is one of newest beverages on their menu and quickly becoming the most popular!
They also have seasonal drinks that are constantly changing. Be sure to try them when you get a chance because once they’re gone, they’re gone. They RARELY ever bring back a previous seasonal drink as they want to keep innovating!
What about you straight edge coffee drinkers? Don’t worry, Vanta Coffee Club & Eatery still crafts the originals! They are very particular with who they supply their beans from, as they only want to offer their customers the best. They currently serve RUFINO’s Super Bar Espresso roast which is one of Holey Brewed favourites. This roast has a dark chocolate and nutty bold flavour. It’s perfect to drink straight OR mixed with milk for an espresso-based drink.
PSA: Ali let us in on a little secret which is that they are looking to incorporate another roast to their espresso lineup. Not only does this give customers more options but it also allows his team to tailor espresso-based drinks even further.
For their tea, they use Pluck. Ali truly believes that this is the best tea out there. We know what you are thinking…anyone business would say that? Well their team tried over 50 different tea brands before landing on Pluck. Not only are they confident in their tea, they are also confident in their food menu. They describe their food as an “elevated cafe eats”. A perfect example of this is their ‘Ahi Tuna Salad’, which is made from only the freshest ingredients! For around half the price as many other fancy restaurants, their salads provide them same quality (if not better)! It’s their goal to make sure their customers leave the cafe full after a meal!
Vanta Coffee Club & Eatery has just gone through a rebranding. As stated earlier, it begun as Cafe Black Gold and only recently rebranded itself to Vanta Coffee Club & Eatery. We caught up with Ali to discuss the rebranding. He mentioned that it is bittersweet for the team, but they see it as an opportunity to connect with their customers more and introduce new and innovate menu items. Their previous branding was a tribute to “founders of coffee” who used to call the beverage “black gold”. Ali was very clear that while the branding may have changed, the principles that made the cafe so successful has not!
What can you expect to see from this rebranding?
Vanta Coffee Club & Eatery is the evolution of the cafe experience. They have taken all that they’ve learned and have built a new concept that really focuses on the customer experience.
They aim to perfect the experience to the smallest details. From greeting a guest, the smell, taste, and presentation of their products, to the music they hear during their stay.
Their goal is to positively engage all of their customers senses. They want to make their guest feel so blissful and welcomed, that when they leave, it’s with greatest possible satisfaction.
We at Holey Brewed can’t wait to see what’s next for Vanta Coffee Club & Eatery. With strong leadership, creative minds and an ability to listen to their customers, they are a force in the Toronto coffee space. We highly recommend you go visit Ali and their team at their 2101 Brimley Rd #111, Scarborough location. Let them know that Mr. HB sent and be sure to try some of their signature drinks!
Follow them on instagram @vantacoffeeclub
Mr. HB | Holey Brewed