Great Coffee for a Better Cause
By Leah Ching
The Habit is the newest café and pastry shop to be welcomed into Thunder Bay’s local coffee scene. Envisioned and brought to life by local Anglican mission church Urban Abbey, The Habit is located at 308 Red River Road, in the historic First Baptist Church.
Since acquiring the 100-year-old building for the symbolic price of $1, Urban Abbey has engaged in constant renovations, converting the space into a community hub for community support. In the spirit of abbeys and monasteries of old, Urban Abbey decided to open a commercial project to help sustain and expand their community work. “This coffee shop is meant to support everything that we do at the Abbey; it’s a business that’s ancillary to our charity,” explains lead pastor and head of staff Scotland Morrison. “We want to continue to offer everything we do for free, with no barriers, but the building expenses and costs to keep up and running are obviously quite high.”
The café, meticulously envisioned and designed by the team at the Abbey, is intended to be a pro-circuit coffee shop, one of Thunder Bay’s “places to go” for high-quality coffee and baked goods. Working with Vancouver’s J.J. Bean Coffee Roasters, connoisseurs can look forward to fresh, high-quality beverages and pastries made in-house. “All of our chocolate beverages are all made with drinking chocolate, so when you’re ordering a hot chocolate or a mocha, it’s pure chocolate being poured into your cup,” says Morrison. “Plus, we have a bakery downstairs equipped with a brand new dough-sheeter, so all of our pastries are made fresh.”
The Habit features a minimalist design, complete with high ceilings, simple furnishings, and a gas fireplace for keeping warm. “The two guiding principles for our café are ‘ancient’ and ‘simple.’ We wanted to keep the walls as bare as possible, with lots of white space happening. The menu is simple, and the coffee is simple but good,” explains Morrison. “We also wanted to channel the history of the building, displaying some of the old art and creating booth-seating out of the pews.”
The Habit’s hours are Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 11 pm, with free parking for visitors. In addition to enjoying a coffee at The Habit, the Abbey also welcomes visitors to tour of their facilities, to view the historic building and its art, or find out more about the church’s mission. For more information visit urbanabbey.ca.