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We wanted to be excited. We got the press release announcing the opening of the Khona café at the corner of Fort and Foulbay Streets in Victoria, saw the terms “quality coffee,” “eco-designed café” and “social responsibility” and got all warm inside before the coffee even hit our lips. Problem is, then the coffee hit did hit our lips.

And we suddently got cold to Khona.

Coffee shops seem to be taking for granted the fact that in a town such as Victoria, with its (over-)abundance of café choices, where aficionados can visit establishments such as 2% Jazz, Caffe Fantastico and habit coffee & culture for truly excellent coffee, that they can get by serving mediocre coffee and doing so with less than mediocre service.

Is a new coffee shop seen simply as a licence to print money? We don’t think this is the approach being taken by Khona. Truly, we applaud the owners for their election to support fair trade coffee, to decorate with environmentally sustainable products and to support local business when sourcing their wares. These are not cost-saving choices. And, in fairness, Khona’s design aesthetic is extremely pleasing. We would happily return if:

(a) the service hadn’t been abysmal; and

(b) the coffee – the cornerstone of any coffee shop – wasn’t nearly as bad.

First impressions are hard to rub off and, though we plan to return to give Khona another chance, we won’t be rushing to do so. We only need so much coffee in the day and and there are far too many better options to satisfy our addiction.

In sum, we love Khona for everything they did in terms of design, decor and ethic. We just wish the women behind the counter would have looked us in the eye and that the coffee hadn’t made us wince.

Original press release below:


March 1, 2007
For immediate Release
Khona brings quality coffee with conscience

Victoria, BC – High-end coffee with a global conscience is now available on upper Fort Street with the opening of a new eco-designed café.

Situated at the corner of Fort and Cook streets, Khona proudly serves premium fair trade coffee that is also organic, shade grown and bird friendly. The fairly traded bean is just one way that Khona embraces social responsibility.

Owner and Victoria resident Andrew Khoo ensures the design, operations and products at Khona are a true reflection of good corporate citizenship.

“We wanted to create an ideal environment for our employees and customers,” says Khoo. “Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it is also better for their wellbeing and health.”

Khona’s interior was designed by award-winning architect Herbert Kwan who also works with Khoo on his development projects, including Reflections on the West Shore.

Environmentally conscious details include the use of Green Seal products, low-odour paint, and recycled building materials. Economic responsibility extends to local manufacturers of goods offered, furniture, signage and other details.

The result is a healthy, sustainable atmosphere that reflects West Coast vibrancy. Khona’s interior embodies the fusion of Eastern and Western cultures, creating a warm, inviting ambience – perfect for catching up with old friends or reading quietly by the fireplace and nine-foot cascading waterfall.

“Khona is about experience. It’s a place where our customers can indulge in high-quality products, relax in a comfortable setting and know they are still supporting something uniquely local and sustainable,” says Khoo.

In addition to custom roasted coffee provided by local roaster 25 Degrees, customers can enjoy the scrumptious menu that includes Asian tapas, sushi, wraps, baked goods and blended teas with cheeky names like “Chai for Guys” or “Storm in a Tea Cup.”

To welcome everyone to Khona, Khoo offers happy hour everyday from 6 to 8 p.m. featuring all drinks and menu items at 15% off for a limited time

Visit http://www.khona.ca <http://www.khona.ca/&gt; for more information.

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habit coffee & culture may not be the latest coffee shop to open its door in Greater Victoria (any surprise? a new one a day wouldn’t be much of a stretch), but it is arguably the best.

We spotted an accurate review of the upstart coffee house in the latest issue of EAT Magazine, on shelves (and the ‘net) today.

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