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Neighbourhood Coffee: pairing coffee with local products in the GTA

Brew-tiful beginnings: how Neighbourhood Coffee launched their coffee roasting journey 

Neighbourhood Coffee’s journey starts in the midst of the pandemic, when communities couldn’t connect face-to-face and it felt like a chilly, espresso-less morning. That was when Karen Hales, the owner of Neighbourhood Coffee, decided it was time to brew up something special. Looking for ways to simultaneously bolster local businesses and rekindle a sense of community spirit, she recruited her next-door neighbours, who had a background in marketing and advertising, to brainstorm ideas. 

As they gathered over steaming cups of joe, one fateful day, it dawned on them—perhaps a simple cup of coffee held the power to be a community catalyst. And just like that, the seeds of Neighbourhood Coffee were sown. 

“The idea was simple – to make high-quality small-batch roasted coffee, and to build a brand that supports the diverse businesses and neighbourhoods in Toronto.” 

From that caffeinated epiphany, a journey began—one that would soon fill the cups and hearts of Toronto’s coffee lovers. After three days of rapid development, went live in April 2020. Now, the thriving small business roasts small batches of coffee, not just for the friendly faces next door, but for coffee enthusiasts far and wide.  

Currently, Neighbourhood Coffee has four delightful roasts, each adorned with designs created by talented Torontonian artists. With every purchase, a portion of the proceeds finds its way back into the pockets of these local designers, making sipping on Neighbourhood Coffee a truly feel-good experience. 

Neighbourhood Coffee’s four roasts shown side by side, with the bags featuring colourful designs from local Canadian artists.

Choosing a domain name that represents their business 

The successful launch of Neighbourhood Coffee’s e-commerce platform was truly a team effort by the Hale family. Husband Chris Hales has a background in IT and helped to get their e-commerce website up and running. Karen, who is a “super-connector”, is very involved in the community and helped spread the word. 

“We needed to come up with a nice site quickly and efficiently,” said Chris. “We chose to build our site using Shopify which, like any platform had a bit of a learning curve but has a nice management tool and smooth interface. It integrates well with social media and they have many add-ons, called ‘kits’, that improve the customer experience.” 

Tip: Also considering building your business website with Shopify? Here’s our low-down of the e-commerce tool – pros, cons, and everything in between.

A screengrab of Neighbourhood Coffee’s website, proudly showing off their local presence with a .CA domain.

Using the word “neighbourhood” instead of using “Toronto” or “GTA” means that if they choose to expand in the future, their domain name can scale with their business. 

Their domain also uses the Canadian spelling of neighbourhood, but they’ve also registered the American spelling and redirected it to their website. 

Tip: Spelling is only one aspect of what you should consider when registering a domain name. If you’re looking to start your own website, learn some helpful domain registration tips in our FREE guide. 

Picking a .CA domain for Neighbourhood Coffee’s website was as intentional as choosing the perfect coffee bean roast. 

“Having a .CA and being Canadian is really important for us because our customers are looking to support local. I think a .CA shows our commitment to being local and putting our community first.” 

Partnering with other local businesses in the GTA 

When Neighbourhood Coffee first launched, Karen had a clear vision—to build partnerships with local businesses that would add value to the community. Their first collaboration, a Mother’s Day promotion with Coco Crafted Organic Chocolates and Ice Cream (, earned rave reviews from the community.  

“It was just so nice to see the smiles on peoples’ faces when we delivered our packages to their doors.” 

Owner of Neighbourhood Coffee, Karen Hales, holding a bag of Signature Roast in her Toronto home.

Since starting their business, Neighbourhood Coffee has continued to foster community camaraderie. They’ve joined forces with over 20 different local businesses, including Simone Marie Belgian Chocolate and Eatable Popcorn, to craft creative collaborations that bring a taste of Toronto’s finest to the doorstep of every eager neighbour. 

A shelf of products from Neighbourhood Coffee’s local business partnerships in the GTA.

Plans for the future 

Neighbourhood Coffee is just getting started.  

“I get to do something different every day. What we’re doing is very tangible, very real and people are really enjoying our product. We’re looking forward to collaborating with more community partners,” said Chris. 

Neighbourhood Coffee is focusing on growing their business across Canada and branching out into other neighbourhoods. Recently, they have designed and created new packaging for their coffee which is now fully bilingual, a requirement in Canada. They are looking ahead at expanding to small premium retail stores as well.  

Another milestone for Neighbourhood Coffee? They are launching their first line of 100% fully compostable single serve Keurig-compatible coffee pods as part of strengthening their commitment to sustainability. 

As they continue building their business, at the end of the day Neighbourhood Coffee wants to be known as a coffee roaster that makes an impact on its neighbours and gives back to the community. 

You can follow the Neighbourhood Coffee journey on Instagram and Facebook. 

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