Coffee Culture – A Canadian Chain Comes to Buffalo

Main Room at Coffee Culture, Sheridan Location

Earlier this year, Coffee Culture, an established Canadian coffeehouse chain, came to Buffalo. Unlike Tim Hortons, a chain that came years ago in the same fashion, Coffee Culture does everything it can to create a relaxed and upscale setting that encourages customers to stay rather than leave. It’s first location (on Main Street near Glen Park, where Sweet Jenny’s used to be) doesn’t even have a drive-through. (The Sheridan Drive location that recently opened up does.) With its coffee, baked goods, lunch items, and espresso drinks, can this upscale chain compete with local favorites such as SPoT?

Yes. Not only does Coffee Culture boast food and drink good enough to compete with the locals (detailed later), the company appears to know that location can be everything. It’s two main locations so far, on Sheridan Drive and Main Street, couldn’t be in a better place. The Sheridan location in Tonawanda has literally no competition. The building itself completely outshines its surroundings (unassuming buildings, a Walgreens, and a funeral home) and remains the only coffeehouse in Tonawanda. (Tim Hortons don’t provide an atmosphere suitable to extended stays, and Panera is definitely more restaurant than coffeehouse.) And while the Coffee Culture on Main Street is on the same street as a Starbucks and a SPoT, the latter two are out of short walking distance of Coffee Culture; someone walking through Glen Park will undoubtedly start, pass through, or end at Coffee Culture while SPoT and Starbucks are further down the street. So, Coffee Culture has made itself accessible to most and presented itself to be welcoming to those who want to come, drink, eat, and relax. But, how is the food?

Sheridan's Coffee Culture Main Room

It’s not bad at all. Everything that one can buy at Coffee Culture is good at the very least and consistent across all locations. Some items on the menu are actually quite good and worth going to Coffee Culture for again. Over a span of at least 10 visits to Coffee Culture, my friends and I have sampled a good portion of the menu at both locations.

Drinks were surprisingly the weakest group in all. While blended drinks ($2.99 for a regular size) such as the Cookies and Cream Chiller (pic. 2), Mango Chiller, and Frozen Cappuccino (pic. 1), were all very good, everything else ended up being a little off par. Various hot espresso drinks (starting at $2.99), such as the Butter Pecan Latte (pic. 3) and the White Chocolate Mocha (pic. 4) were good, but tasted incredibly sweet. A hot chocolate, although not based on espresso, was the best of the hot drinks. It was full-bodied and accurately sweet. Furthermore, it was a steal at about $1 for a regular size. The worst of the hot drinks ended up being the plain, drip coffee. At just over a dollar for a small size, the coffee tasted stale, watery, thin-bodied, and lacking of any flavor. I, a coffee-addict, couldn’t finish the cup. After a few sips, it was thrown out. I haven’t purchased it again, but may in the near future and just to make sure I didn’t get a bad cup.

Baked goods and other desserts were relatively good and mostly as expected. Cookies (pic. 5)were moist and chewy, while a cinnamon roll was different than usual; instead of a plump, moist, “gooey” roll, it was thin, crispy, not very sweet, and had the slightest hint of cinnamon flavor. While not bad, it was different than the average cinnamon roll is expected to be. A croissant (pic. 6) was buttery, flakey, and everything that it should be, while a bagel fell short of local standards; Tim Hortons and Bagel Jay’s definitely have better bagels. Coffee Culture also offers a very prominent display of cakes and ice creams. While the ice cream is average (normal quality, expected flavors), the cakes appear much more impressive. Available are a few variations on a chocolate cake, a california torte, an apple-strussel tart, coffee-crumb cake, a cappuccino mouse, and others. The ‘chocolate overload’ cake was very rich but also very expensive. We all agreed that it was fine, but too expensive (at $6) given its size and quality. The most visually impressive dessert was the ‘Pralines n’ Cream Belgian Waffle’ (pic. 7). While regular Belgian Waffles can be had as a breakfast item, this dessert came as a split waffle topped with butter pecan ice cream, candied pecans, and caramel sauce. The waffle itself felt a little underdone (crisp exterior but sometimes mushy interior), but the dessert as a whole was very impressive. For only $5, it was something that three or four people could share and enjoy.

Sheridan's Coffee Culture Front

The strongest area of Coffee Culture’s food department is surely its lunch fare. Coffee Culture offers panini, soups, salads, and wraps. The Margherita Chicken Grill (pic.8), which included grilled chicken, roasted red peppers, and sun-dried tomato pesto, is a consistently good panini that I would recommend to anyone. Likewise, a Tuna Wrap was impeccably presented as a tortilla shell filled to the brim with fresh tuna and lettuce. The Minestrone Soup was good as well, which a nice beef stock and good vegetables.

Coffee Culture is here to stay in Buffalo, and for good reason. Great lunch fare, above-average baked goods, and good drinks will keep customers coming to the coffeehouse, and it’s wonderful ambiance and cozy feel will make patrons out of many. With the company planning to expand its realm in New York in the near-future, a Coffee Culture should be open or be opening soon in all parts of Western New York. This café is certainly worth a try as at least one of its aspects should be of interest to everybody.

Coffee Culture on Urbanspoon


2 Responses to “Coffee Culture – A Canadian Chain Comes to Buffalo”

  1. 1 Andrew Beiter November 10, 2009 at 10:37 PM

    How could you diss Timmy’s?

    (Author’s Edit: I’m not dissing Timmy’s, just saying that they’re different places! Timmy’s is drive-thru oriented, Coffee Culture is dine-in oriented. Big difference.)

  2. 2 maddie wiles June 24, 2010 at 8:59 AM

    its true the plain coffee was gross and thats coming from me a girl who cant get out of bed without a coffee or an espresso being consumed first

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