Gravity Coffee House and Café
When you look at pictures of the Gravity Coffee House and Café, you might assume it’s located in Toronto’s Bloor West Village, or perhaps in the trendy quarter of a university town. Yet, despite its uber-cool look, the Gravity Coffee House and Café is located in downtown Minden Village in the beautiful Haliburton Highlands.
Gravity offers premium coffee, dozens of loose-leaf teas, and a variety of world foods. A family owned business, Gravity is currently managed by certified barista Lila Sweet and her partner Red Seal chef James McBride. “My father and I opened the business in 2003. We always lived on Ward’s Island in Toronto but had been vacationing up here for years. After about ten years we decided to open a coffee house here,” Sweet said. “As I tell people, I’ve gone from living on an island in Toronto to living downtown in the countryside.”
The Gravity Coffee House is perched atop a small hill overlooking the Main Street of Minden on the corner of Newcastle Street. It occupies the main floor of a historic building that acted as a residence, antique shop, and village post office before Gravity moved in. Gravity has a great view of downtown that can be enjoyed for its breezy dining patio.
When Gravity originally opened, they focused on coffee and cold sandwiches. “It was pretty bare at the beginning,” Sweet said. “But now we offer a lot more for our customers. We’re always striving to be innovative, and offer products that other food servers in the area don’t provide. We have espressos, cappuccinos, yogurt smoothies, and 42 varieties of loose teas. We have a good kitchen, and we offer a variety of grilled Panini sandwiches, meal salads, Belgian waffles, as well as a variety of world foods, including Dominican Black Bean Soup and Jerk chicken wraps. One of our big features is Indian food. We make an excellent curry and samosas that our customers love. Our focus is high quality food and products, with an emphasis on freshness.’’
Gravity Coffee House and Café also caters to customers with dietary restrictions, including gluton free, wheat free, and dairy free products, plus vegan dishes. While the Gravity Coffee House and Café is continuously offering new products, Sweet believes that one of their best features is the service they provide. “We recognize that visitors to the community and local residents want a higher quality of service. When they come in to the Gravity House they’re genuinely welcomed. We aim to offer the best service possible.” Sweet said.
While the Gravity Coffee House and Café was opened as a venue for food and drink, Sweet wants it to be more. They offer a series of local products and gifts, but it’s Gravity’s social element that really makes it stand out. “Due to our warm atmosphere, and the fact that we’re one of the only places in town that offers free wireless high-speed internet, we have turned into a meeting place. We’re like a community hub.” Sweet said.
Sweet also believes that the Gravity Coffee House and Café acts as a place of transition for newcomers to the Haliburton Highlands. “Nowadays there are more and more young people moving to the county. It’s not just retirees. Young people in their twenties and thirties are realizing that they can operate their businesses from Haliburton, so they’re moving up and buying property,” Sweet said. “When they move up here they’re glad to find our establishment, because it offers similar products and the same quality of service that they have in the city. It’s comforting for a lot of people.”
Sweet said that at least once a week she sees customers with their real-estate buying papers on the table. “I always welcome these people to the community, and let them know what’s going on around town.”
Like many business operators, Lila believes it is the attitude of local residents that make the Highlands a great place to operate a business. “When I first came to Minden I was amazed at how much people and businesses help each other out,’ she said. “Everybody networks with each other, and helps each other out. We all promote each other, and we all benefit as a result.”
While Gravity is being innovative through the variety of food they offer, their dedication to service, and their trendy facilities, they are also being creative through their environmentalism. They compost as much as possible, and all of their take-out cups and containers are made from recycled products and are decomposable. Futhermore, they serve organic and fair-trade coffees, teas and gifts.
Innovative business practices have served the Gravity Coffee House and Café well, as their customer base continuously increases. The Gravity team has also expanded into catering, and recently served food and beverages at the Haliburton School of The Arts graduation. With business on the rise, Sweet’s decision to open a business in Minden has certainly proven to be a wise choice.