302 - Latin Heart in the Polish Village

By Lauren Gosnell

Normally dotted with Polish bakeries and delis, the gentle sidewalks of Roncesvalles Village welcomed a new coffee shop to the neighbourhood a few years ago.

Tinto coffeeTinto, named after Colombian slang for coffee, is a large warm space that is inviting to both bohemian writers as well as young moms with their strollers. In keeping with his earnest commitment to community, owner Ricardo Rozental proudly serves up an excellent cup of tinto, but does it with a clear conscience too.

Tinto's mission is fair trade, which means workers in developing countries are paid fair wages for labour.

All of Ricardo's Latin American coffees are certified from TransFair Canada - a non-profit organization that ensures ethical and environmentally responsible standards are in place throughout the entire supply chain, from the farmers and workers who harvest coffee beans to the distributors who label the final product for resale. This is especially important to Ricardo and his wife Elvia, who are from Colombia.

"This is our way of supporting the workers; we know the conditions they're coming from," he says.

In addition to coffee, Tinto carries Fair Trade panela and dried fruits. Panela is a raw brown sugar made from sugar cane, ubiquitous throughout Latin America and southeast Asia. It is the perfect coffee mate.

Tinto berryThe dried fruits are great healthy snacks; they are naturally sweetened and loaded with Vitamin C. A must try is the gooseberry-looking Andean uchuva fruit, with its surprising burst of sweet-and-sour flavour.

Tinto also serves up some excellent Latin American meals adapted to modern health-conscious tastes. The wraps and salads are brilliant. Try the Guajira salad made with cucumber, avocado, mango, tomato and topped with freshly roasted sunflower seeds, cilantro and a honey-orange vinaigrette. It is a simple and fresh medley of flavours and textures sure to delight the senses.

Ricardo believes that thinking globally also means supporting the community right here at home. Tinto's organic cookies are made by the St. John's bakery, a local initiative that provides work for people with social, emotional, or financial disadvantages. All of their meat and poultry comes from Fresh From the Farm. which sells products that are free-range and hormone- and chemical-free from the Mennonite, Amish and Quaker farms in in the Kitchener-Waterloo region.

So relax and enjoy. At Tinto, you can have your coffee and feel good about it too.

89 Roncesvalles Ave.
Toronto, Ontario