Downtown Kitchener is full of countless local businesses, many considered to be hidden gems. While the regular downtown crowds know some of them well, we thought it important to highlight our neighbours, and showcase what they have to offer. After all, local businesses are the ones helping to spread the #DTKlove and make the core #DTKawesome, right? With impending LRT construction it’s important to remember to live local, and there are many options right here in downtown Kitchener. For our first installation of #tryDTK, our staff visited some local cafés to test their pumpkin spice lattes, because what better way is there to welcome fall?
Downtown Crepe Café (@dtcckitchener)
The path to Downtown Crepe Café was similar to many of my recent DTK journeys: wading through the dust and heavy machinery to find my destination. On the corner of Benton and Charles Streets, across from the Oktoberfest store, sits a sign that is almost more autumnal than the festival that reprises each fall in KW. A chalkboard sits on the sidewalk begging me to come in, and bragging of homemade, vegan #PSLs, complete with real pumpkin.
I am greeted by a friendly smile and a calm ambiance as music fills the café with easy melodies and inspiring lyrics. A cactus terrarium from Living Fresh sits by the register with a silly sign, placed and ready to receive a laugh. Another sign says, “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.” I already like the positive vibes!
I begin to study the menu, tempted by the idea of Reese’s chocolate and crepes at 9:00am, but decide to stick with the solo latte. Of course I hesitate at the counter as the image of melting chocolate flashes through my mind again. Thank goodness I am distracted by the mini wallets they have for sale. Lattes and adorable print wallets? Oh crap. It’s happening.
“Just the pumpkin spiced latte please… and this!”
I carefully choose which print I prefer and slide it towards the friendly barista. I take a seat and soak in the changes of the seasons, and the construction in DTK.
After a while my steaming latte arrives. The wait isn’t a worry since I am planning to enjoy the drink and write. This may not be the location to grab a coffee when you’re in a hurry, but the tables and balcony seating make it a great spot to meet a friend or colleague.
After letting the latte cool I take a sip, bracing myself for what I fear may be a strong burst of coffee flavour. As a tea drinker, I aim for a less bitter latte.
I was very pleased. The perfect hint of coffee, along with bits of pumpkin, comes together wonderfully. The light foam on top adds to the latte without forcing me to wipe it from my nose with each sip.
Overall, I am quite impressed. The staff was friendly, they made a killer PSL, and the café was decorated for fall. I got a punch card and will be back, maybe for the Reese’s Crepe!
– Karlee Slattery, Marketing and Social Media Coordinator
Matter of Taste (@matter_of_taste)
There they were, those cursive, curly-Q letters scrawled across a blackboard menu and adorned with equally as seasonal, hand-drawn oak leaves. Those loops and falls of chalk dust, so inherently autumnal that they actually signify the season, were drawn for the first time in many months. On the chalkboard, looming at eye level behind the counter: pumpkin spice latte.
The battle was over before it begun, I ordered one.
“Yes, no sharpie:” my first thought post-order. The barista will not be tagging me with the blanketing identity that comes with the jet-black, all caps “PSL” stamp of a Starbucks cup. I could be drinking a regular latte for all you know, or just an entire cup of espresso because I’m hard as heck. You don’t know. One point for anonymity, Matter of Taste; well played.
I don’t remember the exact price, but it’s at par with any other flavoured latte. There’s a surcharge for purchasing with plastic if your order doesn’t meet a minimum price though, so be prepared to be dinged with an extra 50 cents, or just up your order (you win this time, consumerism).
Think you’re too tough for pumpkin spice and everything nice? Well, you’re wrong, so stop it. Matter of Taste’s latte actually holds the flavour of a proper espresso: bold, bitter and beautiful with a hint of pumpkin. But we’re not talking about that annoying, epitome of artificial flavour, your-tongue-kinda-hurts-from-all-the-sugar-after-syrup. No, this latte is like remembering your mom’s pumpkin pie instead. Sure, it’s still a syrup-sweetened beverage, but it’s like you know they bought the good syrup, the pricey syrup.
It’s like a PSL with more street cred, and it’s also the most centrally located PSL downtown. You can walk back to work proudly, or in anonymity. No one has to know you bought something because of kitschy, seasonal handwriting on a blackboard sign.
– Allison Leonard, Brand, Communications & Digital Media Manager
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