Bridgehead Review


I first heard of Bridgehead from a friend back home…

I’ll be honest, I had never seen or heard of the place during my frequent travels. The origins of Bridgehead go way back to 1981. Possibly making this the best kept secret in my ‘coffee’ world. Some excerpts from their History page below.

Two United Church ministers and two social activists concerned for the prospects of small-scale coffee farmers in Nicaragua formed Bridgehead Trading in 1981.

From these humble beginnings the word spread… organically;

Bridgehead became the first company in Canada to offer consumers fairly traded coffee. A devoted group of volunteers sold Bridgehead coffee from Toronto church basements and interest spread rapidly.

Enter Shared Interest

In May 1998 Bridgehead underwent restructuring, culminating in new ownership by Shared Interest, a cooperative lending society based in the U.K. that specializes in financing the fair trade sector. Shared Interest held Bridgehead for one year in the interest of finding a buyer who could offer a future path for the company.

And a little over a year later…

In the Fall of 1999 Shared Interest accepted an offer from Tracey Clark to purchase the name and return Bridgehead to its roots as a fairly traded coffee and tea company… on June 17, 2000 Bridgehead opened its flagship coffeehouse at 362 Richmond Rd. in Ottawa, Canada and renewed retail and wholesale sales of coffee and tea.

And then there’s the Roastery

In June of 2012, Bridgehead opened its own Roastery and now roasts all of its coffee in-house. The Roastery imports green beans from co-ops all over the world and roasts about 6,000 lbs of fairly traded, organic coffee every week.

Read the full story here.

Having some time on my hands, I decided to check the place out while in Ottawa. I chose the location on Iris Street… it happened to be on my way.

My immediate first impressions on walking through the front door was how bright, spacious and welcoming the place was, not withstanding the industrial style stools. Plenty of seating is something much appreciated by this coffee house blogger.

I ordered my usual, an Americano and since Bridgehead is also known for their Bakery & Kitchen and it being early morning, an Egg & Cheese wrap. The Americano was easily one of the best I’ve ever had, a little hotter and it would have been perfect. I noticed and appreciated the compostable lid… small things make a difference these days.

The Egg & Cheese wrap was pre-made, not unusual for a coffee house. Tasty and not as heavy as some of the other breakfast wraps or sausage and egg offerings at other places… seemed healthier and I’m sure it was. Actual calories not available on my app or on their website. For the really curious there is this…

This particular location will undoubtedly build a regular customer following making it a place to meet. Coffee House blogging is not something I do often but is something I absolutely enjoy. There being no pressure to leave or strange looks from staff only enhances the experience.

Rating: I’ll be back.

Since there are no locations in my home town; Guelph, I’ll make it a point to visit their coffee houses while in Ottawa.


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