Rich and I have been going to Bridgehead for a few years now. Previous to finding their coffeehouses, I’d frequented either The Second Cup or Timothy’s Coffee, because they were what was most available to me where I lived in the Southeast end of the city. I’d also occasionally pop into the local Chapter’s bookstore for a mocha or a latte at Starbucks, but it was never a favourite.
One of the things that sets Bridgehead apart from the other coffeehouses I’ve mentioned is the fact that they only deal in fair trade coffee, tea, chocolate and syrups. While many other coffeehouses have come on board with fair trade products over the last few years, Bridgehead has always had them, and it has always been part of their business concept.
The company originally started as a grassroots movement to support farmers in Nicaragua, selling coffee out of church basements in Toronto. It was soon bought out by Oxfam Canada, but poor management caused sales to dwindle. Eventually the company and concept was purchased by a group of investors and over time has grown to become what it is today, a popular Ottawa hangout for both those who want to support fair trade and those who just want a good cup of coffee.
Along with their various roasts of coffee, lovely green, black, and herbal teas, and hot chocolates, they also make a large variety of baked goods, salads, soups and sandwiches. All the food is made in-house (or at least in town; their bakery is located across from their Wellington Street location) and focuses on fresh ingredients. The picture shows a date square, which is Rich’s favourite treat. It contains real dates (no fake flavoured stuff) and a nice crunchy oat topping and crust.
Other than the fair trade issue, is there another reason why I prefer Bridgehead? Sure. Not only is their coffee excellent, but there is also a certain unpretentiousness to it. You can order your basic favourites (lattes, cappuccinos, espresso, drip, french press, etc) along with a few sweet treat coffees, but you’ll never find yourself ordering something that take longer to say than it does to drink. I also prefer their products because of the lack of heavy amount of preservatives; other coffeehouses’ drinks, especially those with hot chocolate or vanilla syrup, tend to taste a bit chemical. And finally, I find that Bridgehead tends to attract a certain type of customer, the ‘slightly crunchy’ liberal types. Not a bad crowd to find yourself in amongst.
(Currently 7 locations in Ottawa with several more in the works. Visit bridgehead.ca for details. )