A Campus Gem: Diabolos Coffee Bar

“I only need coffee on days ending in y” ~unknown

 

 

In the midst of exam exhaustion, all nighters, or short breaks between classes, there is only one remedy; coffee. But where do you go when you’re tired of Tim Hortons or you want a place with a little more ambiance than Starbucks? There’s only one answer; Diabolos Coffee Bar. Diabolos is a student-run coffee shop located in the University College Junior Common Room, that prides itself on quality beverages and food, affordable prices, access to Fairtrade and Vegan Coffee, as well as a quiet space to relax, study, or socialize. Some of my personal favorite beverages offered at Diabolos are the Nutella Heaven (Nutella hot chocolate), and their chai tea lattes.

In honour of the quickly approaching exam season and well… coffee, I sat down with Diabolo’s Managers Snow Mei and Ema Ibrakovic to talk about their experiences working at Diabolos and how they have seen Diabolos contribute to the University College and U of T Community. 

 

“Hi Snow and Ema, thank you for agreeing to do this interview with me! So, can you tell me a little bit about your experience working at Diabolos?”

Snow: It has been a huge learning experience being the co manager. I have learned a lot of skills on the job, so many of which couldn't be taught during training. As the manager, part of my role is to learn about the personalities of the other employees to create a work environment that is comfortable for everyone, and this has been a lovely experience for me.  

Ema: It’s been interesting because I was a barista last year whereas this year I am managing. As a barista, I had an incredible experience, I met so many people at UC that I didn’t know before. Being a barista allowed me to integrate into the University College community, even though I am from Victoria College. Being a manager is so incredibly different, it has been a huge learning experience. I did not anticipate 95% of this job. I agree with what Snow said, the skills you learn from this role are things that you don’t learn through explanation. I had to adapt to things much quicker. It has been a wild ride.

 

                                                                                                                                             

 

“How have you seen Diabolos contribute to the University College and University of Toronto community?”

Ema: During hiring in previous years, barista experience was a necessity, but this year we shifted our focus to customer service skills and connectivity. Coffee skills can be taught, but connectivity is a natural strength in some people and a weakness in others. During this year’s hiring process, a lot of our successful candidates talked about how they frequented Diabolos in their previous years and wanted the opportunity to give back to the community by working here. Their enthusiasm to contribute to the UC community is what makes them so passionate and connectable with the customers.  

Snow: In general, Diabolos gives people a reason to go to the Junior Common Room.  It is a home for many students at UC. It unites people and allows them to integrate into the University College community while providing them with unique food choices and better than average customer service experiences. Everyone who works here values getting to know their customers. Also, it is really cool to see that Diabolos is frequented by both students and professors. 

 

What do you think makes Diabolos more unique than other coffee shops and coffee franchises?

 Our goal is to create a student-run coffee shop within UC. Our mandate isn’t “how much did we make today?”, but rather, we aim to create a comfortable environment for students. Our main priority isn’t to profit, it is to provide a coffee experience within the community while breaking even for food costs and barista salaries. We aim to price things so that they are fair for students while allowing us to meet our goal.

We also created two new positions this year: we hired two brand ambassadors and two community liaisons. The brand ambassadors market and promote Diabolos and the community liaisons aim to branch out within UC through the University College Literary and Athletic Society (UC Lit), and around the U of T community in general. We have some events that we have come up with for the year with the UC Lit such as coffee houses and open mic nights. Our social media is also being updated regularly and has even been recognized by Ulife. We are going have more opportunities for people in UC to get to know the baristas serving them through our Instagram page.

“Can you tell us a little bit about Diabolos food selection? Specifically, about how it offers fair trade and vegan coffee?”

All of our coffee from De Mello Palheta, which is located at Younge and Eglington. It is all fair trade, and they take specific care in telling us where the coffee beans were packaged, when they were grown, and where they were grown. It is awesome when people compliment the food and ask where it is from and we get to tell them it is from Toronto. All of our food is from Circles and Squares which is also local to Toronto. We try and think of what is cost-effective for students while being produced equitably.

 

“What is your personal favorite Diabolos beverage and food item?”

Ema: The blueberry scone and the BBQ pulled pork flatbread sandwich.

Snow: I love all the salad bowls and the casual drip coffee.

Diablos Coffee bar is a home away from home in the middle of the commotion of the school year, with its amazing menu, comfortable location, and peaceful ambiance. Catch me there drinking a Nutella hot chocolate or taking a 20-minute nap.

 

Student Bios

Snow Mei: is in Rotman Commerce specializing in Accounting and minoring in Economics. She is has been a part of the University College Literary and Athletic Society (UC Lit) for 5 years. When she is not involved with endeavors at Diabolos, the UC Lit, or school, you will find her budgeting, making spreadsheets, binge-watching Netflix, or sleeping.

 

 

 

Ema Iburkobic Is a third-year ethics society and law and political science double major. She is involved with the U of T Pre-Law Society, the U of T Undergraduate Mooting program, and is the Vice President of Ethics Society and Law Students’ Association. When she is not involved in the above endeavors you will find engaged in political affairs, or going for runs.