Balzac’s Coffee Roasters Marks 30 Years as it Expands Footprint [CEO Interview]


Share post:

Inspired by the Grand Cafés of Paris, Balzac’s Coffee Roasters was brought to life by a burning ambition to bring that culture to Canada.

Starting as a coffee cart in 1993, it opened its first café in Stratford, Ontario in 1996. Since then, it has grown to 16 locations and can be found on the shelves of grocery stores across the country. The cafés are throughout the Greater Toronto Area and southwestern Ontario.

Christine Cruz-Clarke

As the company celebrates its 30th anniversary, CEO Christine Cruz-Clarke continues to look at how the brand can expand its footprint across the country.

“We want to see Canadians across the country continue to enjoy that best café experience and we’re going to continue to launch our coffee into retailers across Canada, expanding from our current footprint of over 2,000 stores with presence in every province,” she said.

Balzac’s Coffee Distillery District (Image: Dustin Fuhs)
Balzac’s Kleinburg Village (Image: Balzac’s)

She said the company, with its focus on the Canadian market, is the fastest growing super premium coffee brand in the country. There are no plans today to enter the U.S. market.

Cruz-Clarke said there is still a lot of potential for growth in Canada.

“Canada is actually a top five market in terms of coffee consumption. The amount of people drinking coffee in Canada is already high but that continues to grow year over year and what we’ve seen with the lasting impact of the pandemic is individuals who are continuing to invest in higher quality coffee rituals at home as a way to have that little luxury within your own home environment,” she said.

Besides its cafés across Ontario, it also has a roastery in Ancaster, Ontario.

The brand’s name was inspired by Honoré de Balzac’s famous quote, “the Café is the People’s Parliament.”

The brand is available through a number of major grocery banners from Costco and Loblaws, to Sobeys and Whole Foods – anywhere from traditional grocers to specialty stores. Cruz-Clarke said the company has a great shop on


To celebrate Balzac’s 30th Anniversary in 2023, the company is launching a limited-edition ‘Anniversary Blend’ whole bean coffee. This unique blend of 100 per cent Arabica beans pays homage to where they came from, where they are, and where they’re going next. The Anniversary Blend will be available at all Balzac’s retail cafés.

Balzac’s will also be launching a digital consumer promotion offering Canadians a chance to win an all-expenses paid trip to Paris, France or one of 1,000 other coveted prizes. New advertising and promotional creative will also make its way in-market to create awareness for this special time in the brand’s history.

Cruz-Clarke said that over the past 30 years Balzac has really transformed from a humble coffee cart in Ontario Place to starting to grow one café at a time.

“Over our 30-year history, we have built relationships in every single community that we have integrated in which has allowed us to have a very genuine and authentic following across Canada. As consumers start to translate out-of-home experiences to in-home, they look to us for ways to recreate café favourites at-home. Those who have discovered us through social channels, create the recipes we share online to first experience and engage with us.”

Balzac’s Port Dalhousie (Image: Balzac’s)
Balzac’s UP Express (Image: Balzac’s)

The coffee business is a competitive one these days with shops at almost every corner from global brands to local ones.

 “A lot of people especially younger demographics want to have relationships with brands that are a reflection of who they are,” she said. “Individuals seek brands that align with their values. If you can connect with consumers at this level you can build a relationship that is both organic level and authentic helping you as a brand stand out in a crowded category.”

“Canadians are constantly looking for quality. Our winning formula comes from offering a high-quality product at good value and providing consumers with the brand and product experience that they’re looking for.”

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

More From The Author



Subscribe to the Newsletter


* indicates required

Related articles

Elevating Canadian Retail: How JLL’s Expertise Reshapes Property Management [Interviews]

Landlords are increasingly turning to JLL for pioneering property management solutions that prioritize both enhanced customer experiences and sustainability.

Mandy’s to Open Gourmet Salad Restaurant in Toronto’s Yorkville as Chain Expands [Exclusive Interview/Renderings]

The popular Montreal-based foodservice concept is growing its presence in Toronto with multiple locations, including one behind a soon-to-open Saint Laurent flagship store.

Gen Z’s Digital Upbringing Meets a Passion for Tangible Retail and Authentic Brands [Interview]

A new report on Gen Z, born between 1997 and 2012, provides insight into consumer behaviours as well as a look into the upcoming Generation Alpha.

Interview with Giant Tiger’s New CEO Gino DiGioacchino on the Future of the Iconic Canadian Retailer [Interview]

DiGioacchino speaks to Retail Insider after being appointed as the new President and CEO of Giant Tiger, and discusses the future of the business and importance of maintaining strong connections with local communities.

Purdys Chocolatier Expands Footprint with Pop-Up Stores [Interview]

The strategy involves providing customers with a taste of Purdys' renowned chocolates in areas where the brand hasn't had a presence before.

Colliers Report Emphasizes the Retail Advantage of Bridging the Digital-Physical Divide [Interview]

A recent report by Colliers Real Estate Management Services reveals that retailers who effectively blend their online and physical store operations are 35% more likely to achieve profitability, with the study emphasizes the importance of omnichannel strategies, convenience, property maintenance, and retailer-driven ESG initiatives.

Preview of ICSC@CANADA Conference 2023: Retail, Technology, and Networking Opportunities in Toronto [Interview]

Craig and Kyle Tomlin, Director of Events in Canada for ICSC, discuss the highly anticipated ICSC@CANADA 2023 conference, set to take place from October 2nd to 4th at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre North Hall in downtown Toronto.

Canadian Grocers Take a Page from Carrefour’s Playbook to Tackle ‘Shrinkflation [Op-Ed]

French supermarket chain Carrefour has labeled products impacted by reduced size, and similar measures may be adopted in Canada to enhance transparency in food pricing, says Sylvain Charlebois.

Jeweller Mejuri Debuts Personalized App and Innovative Membership Program; Plans Expansion with 5 New Stores [Co-Founder Interview]

The popular brand's personalized mobile app and membership program aim to enhance customer engagement and personalization, as Mejuri enters major markets with stores.

Fast-Casual Restaurant Concept MightyBird Opening 1st Location in Toronto in a Partnership [Interviews]

The new concept at Union Station will be the first of many in a partnership between Eat Up Canada and Open Concept Hospitality.

KIT + ACE Launches Store Expansion in Canada Under New Ownership [Interview]

The Vancouver-based retailer will open two locations this fall in Toronto and Calgary, with plans for a substantial expansion into 2024 says CEO David Lui.

Casual Steakhouse Chain MR MIKES Expanding Further in Canada [Interview]

With plans for continued expansion into Western Canada and Ontario, the restaurant chain is evolving its concept and targeting smaller markets to establish itself as a hub for local communities.