Cars and coffee is a global movement where automotive enthusiasts get together to show off their prized machines and shoot the breeze over a cup of coffee. They’re the kind of open-to-anybody events that bring car lovers together, whether they’re driving million-dollar exotics or just a beloved old beater. With that being said, there seems to be a strong correlation between caffeine and petrol. BMW Laval, one of Canada’s largest BMW retailers, was quick to capitalize on this by introducing the Autogrill; an integrated coffee bar where customers can enjoy a quality cup of coffee while they visit the dealership.
There was a time when buying a car was considered a long and tedious experience. Over the years, BMW Laval has succeeded in making this process a comfortable and enjoyable one by going above and beyond for its clients. Founder Carmine D’Argenio understood that his clientele, specifically premium brand consumers; were looking for quality, transparency and personalized service. These values are still very apparent in the way he runs his business today.
The pursuit of excellence is what inspired Carmine to open the Autogrill in his dealership. The Autogrill derives its name from the the famous chain of service outlets scattered across Italy’s main highway infrastructure. The original concept is focused on serving quality food in a gas station type of pit stop. It is kind of like an Italian grocery meets a convenience store meets a coffee shop: all the commercial bounty of a North-American gas station, with Italy’s standards for quality. In our experience, one of the best ways to visit Italy is by road. Not only does it offer plenty of epic driving with its scenic landscapes, plunging coastlines, lakes and historic towns but it is also comforting to know that a good espresso, cornetto or panino is only a few exits away. In fact, every Autogrill offers a distinct selection of products, thereby emphasizing Italy’s diversity in regional cuisine (just to be clear, this is not your average Tim Hortons or KFC on the 401). In this regard, Carmine has implemented these same standards of quality and has created his very own rest stop within his dealership. Whether a customer is shopping for a new vehicle or simply coming in for a service appointment, they can enjoy an Italian espresso and a dolce like in the old country.
As we walked into BMW Laval, we were quickly greeted by the receptionist at the front desk. We then made our way past a large showroom full of shiny German cars to the service department located at the back of the dealership. There, in the middle of the customer lounge, was the Autogrill station. A bright red circular counter surrounded the barista who was busy at work preparing coffees on a Simonelli espresso machine. To the right was a large refrigerated display housing an assortment of baked goods from Première Moisson. Maybe it was our stomach’s talking but it seemed as though each pastry could have easily paired with our coffee. We chose an almond croissant and a chocolate chip cookie bar. The croissant’s almond paste filling was moist and decadent while the cookie bar was crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside (just the way God intended it to be). They also offer a variety of soups, sandwiches and salads for their lunch crowd. We were lucky enough to land on a fresh batch of bignolattis (Sicilian sausage rolls) that morning. Like we said, this isn’t your average pit stop…The Autogrill serves ILLY coffee, an Italian roast which is known for its dark, earthy and slightly charred flavour. We are definitely no strangers to ILLY and while flavour is dependant on many factors (ie: beans, equipment, technique, etc.), we felt as though the final product exceeded our expectations.
When it came time for us to pay the bill, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that our coffee was on the house! The other items we ordered were obviously not free, but the fact that BMW Laval offers quality espresso instead of basic drip coffee is another indicator that they truly value their customers. They say that an attractive product will more often than not sell itself. When such a product is met with excellent customer service, you then have a winning combination. Add some espresso and a few Sicilian sausage rolls and you have an offer you can’t refuse.
David & Joey