What do Canadians eat....?
Despite having spent 17 years in the specialty coffee business in the UK, I had never lived in Canada, let alone operated a business there. I had an initial minor panic which posed a couple of pertinent if not wholly obvious questions…. WHAT DO CANADIANS EAT? WHAT DO CANADIANS DRINK? After taking myself aside (metaphorically speaking obvs.) and having a brief word with myself and remembering that I had been living with one (a Canadian that is) for at least 8 years, I cast all despondency aside and moved on to the task at hand. I had inherited 2 members of staff when I initially bought the business, Sarah & Jilly, so I posed the question ‘Who is thought to have the best coffee in town?’ After much umming and no small amount of ahhing the results were inconclusive. The first goal became apparent, we needed to try and make the best coffee in town as well as to raise awareness that our coffee was deemed the best in town. It seems obvious but worth noting that, you could have the greatest products in the world, but if no one knows about it, the job is barely half done. Our roaster was still enjoying an ocean sojourn traversing the Sea of Japan and North Pacific Ocean and the roasting company that the coffee shop was using was doing a decent job and selling us beans I could live with in the short term. Training was key and as I often state, when I dupe people into letting me speak publicly about coffee, it is an exercise in damage limitation. There are so many areas where there is room for things to go awry, from growing to processing, from shipping to storing and from roasting to packaging. However, one of the biggest areas where things can and often do go wrong, is when someone is stood in front of an espresso machine. This is particularly galling, in view of the sheer amount of often backbreaking work that has preceded the relatively short-lived event of a barista finishing the process off and handing the customer a cup of coffee. Training and understanding are definitely key and to that end we set about the lengthy process of training and general understanding of the principles of extraction and basic milk chemistry. We had a La Spaziale single group machine to work with that was underpowered and made texturing milk more than a little challenging at times, but you’ve got to work with what you’ve got and so to work we went……. I Ho, I Ho and all that. I knew we would need a bigger more powerful beast if the shop was to reach anywhere near the higher volume of sales I knew it could, but that would come a little later.
It was now October 2017 and I was very eager to get my 15-year-old son George over from the UK to come and visit and see the house and coffee shop. This coupled with the vain hope that he might feel that life in Canada was for him and make a permanent move. I asked my great and oldest friend Stephen Needham, if he would be amenable to escorting George over from the UK to Canada. He promptly agreed and a trip was planned for later that month……..