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The Israeli contender in Toronto’s coffee wars smells sweet success

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Aroma Espresso Bar is one of the fastest-growing coffee chains in Canada — and another sabra-owned cafe is set to follow suit

When it comes to running a coffee shop, Anat Davidzon has done it all. As the co-founder of Aroma Canada, she’s been involved in every aspect of the business, helping open and operate numerous locations over the past decade while establishing the Israeli brand in Toronto.

On a recent Friday morning, Davidzon visits an Aroma close to the head office in midtown Toronto. True to form, she engages with employees and customers while attending to myriad details. To her satisfaction, the branch is full and animated, with a steady flow of people ordering coffee, pastry or an Israeli breakfast (known here as the “Power Breakfast.”)

While Toronto may be far from Aroma’s Jerusalem origins and inspiration, it has embraced the franchise-based brand like no other place in the world. Since its Canadian launch in 2007, Aroma has opened 35 locations in Toronto, with more on the horizon. Such is the success of Aroma in Canada’s largest city, other Israeli companies are taking notice. In February, Landwer, another venerable Israeli café chain, will also try its luck there.

In a relatively short time, Aroma has carved out a significant niche in Toronto’s lucrative, fiercely competitive coffee market despite the decades-old dominance of major American and Canadian chains. In the process, it’s established the largest foothold in a Western city of any Israeli retail brand.

An espresso from Aroma. (Brandon Gray)An espresso from Aroma. (Brandon Gray)

“The main reason Aroma is successful in Toronto is because it’s filling a void in the market,” says Davidzon, 36, who grew up in Eilat and Ra’anana until her army service. “From the outset, we’ve put a twist on almost every aspect of the common North American coffee shop experience.”

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