Natrel's "milk bar" comes to Toronto

Permanent co-branded café serves specialized coffees and snacks

After a successful launch in Montreal last year, Natrel and Quebec coffee chain Java U are putting the spotlight on milk at a permanent co-branded café.

The Natrel Milk Bar by Java U café, which opens Thursday in the city’s trendy West Queen West neighbourhood, is part of a branding agreement between Natrel and Java U. Operated by Java U, the café serves specialized coffees that contain as much as two-thirds Natrel milk.

The goal is “to push the consumer experience further,” says Jean-François Couture, vice-president of marketing at Agropur Cooperative, Canada Operations in Montreal. He adds the Montreal and Toronto cafés will act as research laboratories for new Natrel products.

Toronto’s Natrel café comes on the heels of last year’s opening of the first Natrel Milk Bar by Java U café on Notre Dame St. W. in Montreal’s Griffintown, which has become a trendy area in recent years. Opened in May 2015, the Montreal outlet has been “very well received,” says Java U executive chairman Brian Cytrynbaum.

Toronto is an ideal extension for the Natrel Milk Bar, as the milk brand has “a dominant market share” in the city of more than 50% in the fine-filtered variety, Couture says.

It’s the first presence in Toronto for Montreal-based Java U, which operates 43 café-bistros in Montreal, Vancouver, the U.K. and the Middle East.

Customers at the milk bar can choose from seven varieties of Natrel Milk, such as lactose free and organic. There is also a menu of sandwiches and pastries, some of which have dairy or Agropur Cooperative cheeses as ingredients, and ice cream and milkshakes are available in the summer.

The Natrel-Java U partnership has also resulted in latte and mocha iced coffees to go that are available at all Java U locations.

The Toronto milk bar incorporates the milk-carton inspired booths seen in Montreal. There are also some Toronto touches such as the Toronto Latte, which includes Natrel Maple Milk, and an interior that highlights the Toronto skyline. Prices are in line with other Java U outlets.

The Natrel-Java U collaboration reflects an emerging consumer trend towards co-branding, Cytrynbaum says. He says the idea got its start in 2014 when Java U conducted a blind taste test of coffee made with different milk brands and Natrel milk came out on top. Java U, which was using several milk brands, now uses Natrel in all Montreal outlets.

The café also has a mini-boutique that sells branded clothing and accessories, such as 100% organic milk-fibre cotton T-shirts, mugs and thermoses. Merch is also sold online at

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