Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Used Book Donations?

Well it's getting sooo close to us announcing what's happening with the restaurant offer, just waiting for a few loose ends to be tied up, questions answered and all will be revealed.
We promise.

In the meantime, we need your help.

I've mentioned in the past we will have a section of the cafe stocked with books and magazines, for casual perusal while sipping your marvelous beverage. I've got the design of it worked out, and while I have a few books to contribute, I certainly don't have enough to fill the shelves I'll be putting up.

This is where you come in - any suggestions for us, beyond the obvious hitting up used bookstores?

We were thinking about trying to partner with a local independant bookstore, to sell some of their wares in our space, rotating stock on a regular basis to keep it fresh and interesting for customers. Problem is there is no such bookstore in Cabbagetown.

We could reach out to further flung bookstores, and we probably will.

But we're curious about your ideas. Coffee and good books go so well together, have you ever had a 'If only they offered.." moment that would work well with our concept? Tell us all about it!

Something just pop into your head now? Share it!

We're all about customer feedback, and would love to hear what you think. So we'll sit back, make some coffee and hope to hear from you soon.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Quick Update!

We hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season this year - we sure did!
Apologies for the lack of new posts, I wanted to post with an update on the whole restaurant offer, but we're still waiting to hear back.

We put in our final offer yesterday, after we got another sign back from the agent with a higher price. If it's not accepted we're back on the hunt, so keep those fingers crossed for us!
It's a bad time of year to be trying to get anything done that requires the assistance of real estate agents, lawyers and banks, but hey - if there's no challenge how fun can it be?

We're hoping to hear back by Tuesday if th
e offer is accepted, at which point we will definitely update.

Thanks to everyone who commented with charity ideas, they've all been filed away for once we're up and running. If you have anymore, please do share! You can email us if you'd rather not comment, iheartcoffeebeans@gmail.com.

In the meantime, I'm a bit obsessed with some apple cider we received in our farm share last week, and I think I'll be buying some more from a local farm for our New Years party. Anyone reading this have any mulled cider recipes they want to share? I'm open to new ideas, as always!


Monday, December 21, 2009

We ♥ Cabbagetown + Classic Coffee

Today kept two of three Cafe Novo peeps very busy.
Noon saw Sadie + Elizabeth at the restaurant in Cabbagetown, meeting with our wonderful espresso machine rep from Zuccarini (Hi Mike!) to go over flow of the space, and machine placement.
Here was our concern - see this bar? It's where the espresso machine, cash register and pastry display will be:

Now it's hard to see the full length of it - it's
just over 6 feet at the widest part. But just behind where you see the tap now, is where the machine will go. To the right of that, grinders, and then cash register will be around where that Coke bottle is. There will be alot more space once we get our paws on the place, but Mike agreed it's doable, which is what we needed to hear.

Here are a couple more pictures I snapped while we were there this morning.

Lovely little fireplace - so nice and warm!

This is when you walk in, straigt ahead up to the upstairs.

Gorgeous open exposed beam ceilings, upstairs. Disco balls + speakers will be gone.

From the front wall of the upstairs, looking back into the bar area, stairs to the right going back downstairs. The bar will be a reading area.

From near the bar, looking into the large room upstairs. To the left, you can kind of see the nook - this is going to be The Spot to sit - amazing people watching potential.

Now imagine all those drapes gone, the trim painted white, and the tables we talked about in the last post. The chairs will be painted white, and reupholstered with (if we can get enough from our suppliers) used burlap coffee bags. If we can't, then we'll hit second hand stores for a tough canvas like material.

The second part of our day, we met with another coffee supplier that we've heard amazing things about - and were they ever right. This place blew our minds, and the shots they pulled for us in their tasting lab - wow. As in "I can't speak this is so good" wow. Their quality control is mind-boggling, and they have invented a new roasting system that is approximately 90% more energy and waste efficient than the standard in North America. We'll be heading back there for more taste - testing, and working out which of their coffees we'll be carrying, but we're sold on their organic fair-trade espresso, we can tell you with with absolute certainty.

In location updates - we got the signed back offer from the sellers agent last night. A couple of conditions altered, one or two we don't want to compromise on, and the price higher than we want to pay.
We're reviewing it now, to be scribbled on and signed back to them via email scan tomorrow morning. We like the spot, but are willing to walk away if the vendor won't budge on a few points, one being the price.

In the meantime, I'm back to drawing logo ideas so we can get some signage ordered, as well as business cards, and get the website going. So much to do!
Tis the season however, so we're not pushing too hard this week, everyone is in holiday mode and we respect that not everyone else in the universe feels the same sense of urgency we do in regards to the cafe.
We're getting there though folks!

We'll update again once we hear back on our counter-offer, hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season, warm drinks and tasty treats included!


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Lawyers are Expensive + We Heart Recycling!

Lawyers. They are bloody expensive. Don't get me wrong, it's going to be worth it - but still.

Met with ours today, to review the offer to buy the business in Cabbagetown. It was put together by the sellers agent, and while she's awfully friendly and is legally bound to be fair to us - the seller is her client, and we're more comfortable having someone on our team batting for us.

Only a few clauses to be added, and she'll email me the revised offer tomorrow.

If all goes well we'll end up paying her a crazy amount of money to ensure it all goes smoothly while we're busy elsewhere.

What else would we be busy with? Well for one - outfitting the joint a la Cafe Novo. The tables currently in the restaurant that we would be purchasing, well they aren't to our style.

Alot of what we want to do with the cafe is embodied in recycling, and paying closer attention to what we consume and the resulting waste.
So instead of buying new tabletops, or even tablecloths, we've reached out to our awesome coffee suppliers (remember Planet Bean? Hi Byron!) for burlap bags.

See they receive their green coffee beans from coffee farmers in large burlap bags. I think with my sewing machine and perhaps some backing material (courtesy of a thrift store, flat sheets have many uses!) I can make beautifully suited tablecloths, for the tables we aren't replacing.

Think something along these lines :

What do you think? We'll also have white chairs, only not so much outside.

I'm also thinking upstairs we'll put a nice long communal table, like the farmhouse dining tables. No tablecloth on the gorgeous wood table though.

Several antique stores in my area have a stunning selection of them, for very reasonable prices. I love the concept of sharing a good cup of brew with local strangers that you can engage in conversation with, minus the awkward break-the-ice, or having to intrude on someone else's conversation while they are clustered away into little 'two people retreats' like so many cafes pander to.

A nice well-worn surface, like this table at Wildflower Organics :

How fantastic would it be to find benches at the same time? Ahhh one can dream.

In the meantime dear readers, we ask your opinion on a very important matter - you see we have plans, to sell a certain kind of cookie, with all of the profit going to a charity. That charity will change monthly, and we'd like to start a running list of suitable charities.

Are you personally involved with, know someone who runs, or absolutely adore what a certain charity does for the world? Tell us about it! The more details the better, and we'll add them to our list for once we're up and running. Our only condition is that they not raise money to infringe on the rights of others. Can't wait to hear from you!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Yes! Yes! A Thousand Times Yes!

Super quick update from the front lines - just 'cuz we like sharing amazingly good news.

One of our private investors gave us the green light today - our proposal has been accepted!

We are approximately this excited.

We've also got a first draft of the offer we will be putting in for the restaurant business in Cabbagetown - waiting to hear from our lawyer on an appointment time, to get it reviewed, and then edited as we see fit before it's finally put to the seller.

It's all coming together - for really real! We still need to meet with RBC to finalize the details on our government guaranteed loan, also waiting to hear from our second potential investor.

If it all goes as planned *keep those fingers crossed* then we'll have the keys February 1st, and if everything continues to go as planned we'd be open to serve fantastic coffee and baked goods the beginning of March.

Celebrate with us - raise a cup of ridiculously good coffee, or a delicious half-eaten treat!


Monday, December 14, 2009

Location Update

Before I launch into how we spent on Saturday afternoon - I need to get this off my chest. Being Hostess of a cookie swap is The Best Job Ever. In fact I think my next job (years and years from now, of course) will be to somehow turn hosting cookie swaps into a business.
Until then however, we concentrate on the cafe.

We're so close, we can almost taste it. You know what it tastes like? Rich dark hot chocolate, recipe care of our own lovely Sadie. This stuff is going to blow your minds people.

We anticipate seeing alot of these.

Saturday Sadie and I made our way back to Cabbagetown, and met the owner of the restaurant currently occupying the space we're coveting. She's energetic, passionate about organic local food, and loves the hospitality industry. We dug her style, too.

We poked around in the back kitchen, upstairs and basement. We explored the back patio (flashes of flower bakets hanging alongside patio lanterns, swaying gently in summer breezes... ahhhh.) and asked a ton of questions while we were doing it.
The kitchen's largest piece of equipment consists of two pizza ovens, stacked on on top of another. After some research it's been decided we can use them for our baked goods, in fact it might be beneficial what with the stone floor of them, distributing heat evenly.
The main-floor bar was sussed out for ability to hold our gorgeous espresso machine, cake stands and a cash register. We can make it work.

Isn't she a beauty?

So now we're revising our numbers, our start-up requirements, and time-frames. We need less kitchen equipment, less construction, but we will be replacing some parts. The light fixtures jsut won't work with our vision, they'll be sold. The whole place needs to be repainted, to suit our style. We'll be painting + re-upholstering the chairs, and replacing the table tops. The bar upstairs will be converted to a reading spot cum book and magazine shelf. We'll leave the stools there, and the lighting under the bar that will enable you to read, if the rest of the upper room is dimmer. We'll be taking used book + magazine donations in the near future - any suggestions for sourcing?

Once we firm up our financing options, we'll meet with the realtor and start drumming up and offer. If all goes well we could be opening the beginning of March!

So keep your lovely fingers crossed for us everyone - and shout out encouragement / thoughts / love! We love hearing from you!



Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls + Guatemalan Coffee = Mmmmm.

What do you like to pair with your favourite coffee, or tea?

The concept of pairing coffee with food has become increasingly popular. Much like the idea that wine can be paired with food; so can other drinks – beer, cocktails, liquors, etc. A well formed drink, no matter it's origins, can always find it's way to a complimentary dish.

Café Novo intends to have pastries that will pair well with it's coffee (and tea). We will always be happy to talk about dark and spicy beans with you!

With the holidays just around the bend, many people have started their baking. Many cookies, breads, loafs, and cakes are to be had at this time of year. Most of them are guilty pleasures or family favourites.

We're starting our holidays off with cookies and coffee. (Elizabeth in particular could eat nothing but coffee + gingerbread cookies aaaaaall day and be quite content.) Not that this is shocking, but we wanted to share some of that spirit with all of you. A lot of holiday treats are rich, sweet and hit that spot that you've been craving all year.

This isn't going to be a full lesson in pairings, just a quick intro into the concept and a recipe for you to try at home!

Today, we're going to pick a Guatemalan coffee, which is rich chocolately coffee, while still being medium to dark and quite lively when just freshly ground. I'm not going to suggest an exact blend or brand, the region is far more important. What I am going to suggest though, is that you get high quality beans (not from a big box super market that is!), and if at all possible grind them at home. We can go on and on about the importance of equipment but we'll keep it to this : burr grinders are where it's at. (If you want to know more - please ask!)

Blade grinder : Baaaaaaad.

Burr grinder : Gooooood.

Pair with that a fresh, soft cinnamon roll. I don't know about all of you – but I don't view cinnamon rolls as being just for breakfast. I think they make a great any time of day snack. When freshly warm, they make a great escape from the winter winds, and paired with a Guatemalan coffee which picks up the softer notes in the coffee from that perfect balance of sweet, butter and cinnamon.

Knowing how busy everyone is during these next few weeks, and how complex and intimidating cinnamon rolls can be; here is a quick and easy one to ensure success and enjoyment with your rich, flavourful Guatemalan coffee that I know you're going to go out to the market, or your local roaster and buy!

Quick and Easy Cinnamon Rolls!


5 1/4 cup white unbleached bread flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 Tbsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp instant yeast
1 egg
2 cups hot water

Mix dry ingredients together.

Add egg and water.

Mix for 1 minute and check consistency. If dough is too dry, add a tiny amount of water. If too moist, add a little flour.

Mix for 5 minutes.

Roll out dough on a floured surface until it is about 16 by 21 inches.


1 cup brown sugar

2 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened

Spread the softened butter over the dough, then sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon evenly over the surface.
Roll the dough up from the long side and cut into 16 slices.
Place into two 9x13 pans sprayed with Pam.
Cover and let rise for 20 minutes. Bake at 400 for 13 minutes.


1/2 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup cream cheese

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/8 tsp salt

While the rolls are baking, beat cream cheese and butter until combined, add vanilla, salt, and sugar slowly and beat until fluffy.
When rolls are done, immediately spread with icing.

Best eaten warm.

Enjoy - and do tell, what do you like to pair with your coffe / tea / hot cocoa?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

CYBF Meeting + New Location + It's Winter!

First things first - you know what I want to do when I see snow coming down outside, from gray skies?
Curl up somewhere like this :
With something like this :

Close your eyes, imagine the warmth of those stones, and say it with me now "Ahhhhhhhhh."

Now that you're a little more relaxed, let me tell you what's been going on in our world.

We met with two bankers last night, that work on behalf of the CYBF, determining if projects brought to them have economic viability, and help them decide if they should invest or not. Very nice gentlemen, both with worlds of experience. One is apparently involved in the "Dragons Den" show you might have seen on CBC (If you're in Canada). I don't know that he's one of the Dragons perse, but either way.

We reviewed the business plan, the financials, and talked, lots, about our plans. They were very enthusiastic, and loved our ideas.

Their only concern was with out start-up costs being high, which in turns leave our cash flow lower than they'd like for the first few months. We'd budgetted to have just over 3 months worth of operating capital on hand, assuming the worst that we make no profit until the 4th month.

They said they'd be more comfortable with that closer to 6-9 months.

The start-up costs of the location on Manning are close to $100K - this is very high, and while we were edging to the decision regardless, it means that location is now completely out of the running. The landlord wants us not only to pay 100% for the renos, he also wants a security deposit of 1 years worth of rent. Close to $50K. We just don't have that money, and even if we did I wouldn't want it sitting in an account while we struggle to make ends meet.

So from the meeting we took away a sense that we are on the right track, they told us they believe it will be profitable, and it's a great idea. They also agree we're going into this with open eyes, we know what we're doing and we're doing it well so far.

We need to redo our numbers, using the newer locations we've been looking at, to reduce our start-up and have a larger chunk of cash on hand for the operating, to cover 6 to 9 months.

Which brings me to my next point.

While we're waiting to find out if the financing is approved for the offer someone else has in on the lovely little yellow restaurant on College St, we've been looking elsewhere.

Our searching has led us to lovely Cabbagetown, Toronto. Have you heard of it?

Here's a little reading material if you'd like to know more about it.

There is a little restaurant that a woman is looking to sell, currently occupying a converted Victorian house, two floors with original moldings and charm intact. It includes a gas fireplace on the main floor, huge windows letting in tons of natural light, and a back patio. A real back patio, not a city-owned boulevard cafe kind of place. It's fantastic. We love it. And it puts our start-up costs below what we'd pay at the Manning location, already including kitchen equipment.
Part of the back patio. Isn't it adorable?

Lovely main floor, see the fireplace? Ahhhhhhh.

There would be cosmetic changes for sure, but our total construction budget would be something like $10K. You know, $90K less than the last location we looked at. Picture that space you see above these words not painted red, but pale green, with white and cream accents. Then imagine it full of people smiling and closing their eyes while they sip from a warm steaming cup, their shoulders relaxing as they take a sip, and then nibbling on an equally delicious snack.

That's what we're talking about.

So Sadie and I caged the place out on Monday night, went for dinner and poked around. We love it, but we need to see the kitchen. And maybe the upstairs without people crowded in every space. So Saturday we've got an appointment with the owner, to do a full walk through, and ask all the questions swirling around our pretty little heads. I can't wait, and even the thought of having to drive into Toronto in fresh snow isn't dampening my anticipation.

We've also been working on concocting our secret recipes, that will have you all swooning once we're up and running. This hot cocoa.... let me tell you, it's going to Blow.Your.Minds. But I've gone on long enough for one post, we'll tell you more about it next time.

In the meantime, drop us a note, tell us your thoughts so far! Suggestions? Comments? Awe and love? We'd love to hear it!



Monday, December 7, 2009

And now the moment you have all been waiting for...

For those of you that already know me, I should start off apologizing for everything. I won’t, but I should. For those who don't, I would also like to apologize, for how sad and empty your lives must be. A life without awesome jokes and slightly... well maybe mildly overbearing amount of sarcasm. How you have survived is beyond me. You keep putting on a brave face there kiddo.

On that note, I know what you're thinking...man, it is about time. This guy was genetically engineered for this business. A coffee drinking machine with no equal.

More than likely you are now sitting there with your elbows on the table, hands gently clasped, chin softly resting on your hands, head turned slightly to the left and looking upwards and regaling in stories, which by now are probably somewhere close to being almost legendary, like times of two friends sitting and drinking over 19 coffees while playing chess. Thinking..yes, this guy knows coffee like no other man in history.

Actually I would like to interrupt you at this point to say that this is an excellent indication as to my role within Café Novo.

Anyone who would drink that many coffees in one sitting was not doing it for the rich aroma, the subtle notes, or the delicate flavours washing over ones palate, but more for the free refills.

Speaking of free refills...could I tell you stories about the extent that I and my friends have gone to for free refills and the countless times we have been kicked out of places like buffets. But I digress for that is a saga for another time, as when I sat down to write this I told myself that brevity was the key. Now I did not mean the type brevity that would consist of me saying my name and then awkwardly standing there, waiting for anything to come to mind other than discussing the weather, but the type of brevity that you so desperately hope for at an awards acceptance speech where overpaid people throw a massive and expensive celebration in order to pat themselves on the back for all of their hard work. After all they clearly need more attention than they are already getting...their jobs are so important, I mean, doctors only save lives, how often do they entertain us though? And what else would they do with all of that money...fund cancer research? Help provide clean drinking water around the world? You people are ridiculous for even thinking such things!

So as I sit here to write this brief introduction of myself and my involvement with the café, I think it best to begin with telling you that I actually prefer tea. I drink coffee because it is there, in fact I will pretty much drink anything, I have in fact put tablespoons of instant coffee in my mouth and let it dissolve. Some would say it is because I am crazy, some would say I was just too lazy to boil some water, I prefer to say that I just don't play by those rules, and plain and simple am damn adventurous.

Oh by the way my name is Richard and this is why I will be handling the finances.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Going-ons? Goings-on?

Wow, a lot has happened this week.

In no particular order, here is what's been happening in Café Novos world lately.

That wonderful space that Starbucks backed out of? We're hitting serious road blocks with the landlord regarding the lease.

(Said empty space, with two lovely people I happen to know.)

We met with the architect that had done the drawings for Starbucks, and went over what we are looking for. Got his fee proposal (he can certainly afford to buy the fancy car he pulled up in), and some suggestions as to what we should ask the landlord to complete before we sign the lease. Little things, that the inspector would need done regardless.

We emailed the landlord on Sunday night, with a proposal to lease, outlining what we'd need, and what we were offering - to put in $100K worth of renos to finish the place, and 3 months worth of security deposit, at the rent rate he was requesting. We just needed him to pay for the walls to be framed, and drywalled around the bathrooms and backroom.

Finally heard back on Tuesday, that he would be needing a full years worth of rent as a deposit, and he wasn't putting another dime into the place - don't we know he's already dropped close to $300K on the place?? Just to put it in perspective - a years worth of rent is approx. $50K. Up front, just for the privilege of leasing a property we're going to put $100K into, that he will benefit from.

After going back and forth a couple of times he tells us we need to make a decision on what we want, he can't work with us if we're not going to offer any security or covenant. You know - like what we offered with the 3 months deposit (security), and to sign a 5 year lease (covenant)?
I pointed this out to him, and have yet to hear back.
We're not so sure we want to get in bed with someone who's whacked from the get-go. So we're looking elsewhere.

Thursday Sadie and I went to check out a spot on College, operating as a restaurant. Gorgeous, perfect, amazing location - full kitchen. The pedestrian count alone was enough to quicken our heart beats. (Can you see the name Café Novo posted on that pretty yellow exterior, in your head? We sure can - and it looks good).

We decide we want it - let's do it. YAY right?
Wrong - there's an offer in, to buy the restaurant. Which means our offer to lease is going to take second stage, if we even get a shot to present it.
So now we wait...




We have to wait until the end of the weekend, for the offer to expire, before we know if it's available or not. And it's killing us.

So good blog-reading friends - will you say a prayer / wish on a star / cross your fingers for us?

In more positive news, we met with our lawyer, and finalized all the company positions, stocks and minute book.

Check it out!

(Neato - right?)

But we can top that! Oh yes! Check this bad boy out :

Heck yes that's our corporate seal! We're going to officiate every piece of paper that has to do with the company. Security measure are important, right?

We also now have a business bank account, and just today we got the permanent card in the mail, with the fancy chip and everything. It also says Café Novo Inc. on it, but I'd get in trouble from our CFO if I posted a picture of it. You'll just have to take my word that it's shiny and super impressive.

Next week we meet with the bankers that will formulate the proposal to the CYBF advising if they should lend us money - a bit nervous about it, but we know that business plan front to back so we think we'll be OK. Wish us luck regardless?

We'll leave you with that for now - in the next few posts look forward to more introductions, and hopefully elated joyful news of securing the space on College!

Elizabeth - President. (Now that's fun to type!)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

And now presenting!

So I've been promising this post for about a week now. This is Sadie checking in with you all.

A little about myself for today, I know that Elizabeth is brewing up a update post of all the goings on of the last week (and boy, has it been eventful for us!).

I apprenticed as a pastry chef and went to school for Culinary Management. I'll share some of my work with you all to get those taste buds drooling!

Yes, those are all sweets. All all made by me. There are many more where those came from as well!
Unsurprisingly I also worked in a coffee shop for a time. During this time I fell in love with things such as espresso and french press. I have spent much of my free time over the years in coffee shops. I believe they are a great meeting places for friends and family, to study and to work. A good place to get away and escape for a few moments in that busy schedule that we all seem to have these days.

I love pairing coffee and tea with pastries, and bringing customers into that experience.

I'm thankful for being brought into this whole journey, it's been great so far and we're not even open yet! Wait until you hear about about the week we've had!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

We want Money. That's what we Want.

Updates have been few and far between lately - we apologize.

We've been kept so busy lately it's been hard to remember to eat + sleep! But foresaking The Blog is a cardinal sin we're not willing to commit, so we find time. I've also decided this post doesn't present enough picture opportunities in of itself, so I'm peppering the post with small tie-in photos. More fun to read, right?

Who is this 'we' you ask? Why I'm so glad you did! I've been dying to tell you all about it.

I have been joined in my venture by the most lovely Sadie. She has wads of experience in the coffee + pastry world, and we're fitting like two peas in a pod so far. I'm so absolutely thrilled to have her onboard, and can't wait to introduce you all to her.

(Just like that. Except without all the other peas. You know. )

She'll be posting a little introduction to the blog in the near future, so I'll save all the fun facts for her to tell.

In the meantime - update on our financing situation.

Business plan was submitted to the CYBF representative last week, both soft and hard copies including all the fun financial sheets that go along with it.

It's been sent off to their banking representatives, who will be meeting with us on December 1st to review The Plan, and basically shred our amazing perfect plan to smitherines. (I'm not panicking - I swear). Once they're satisfied, they'll make a decision, and forward their recommendation onto the CYBF itself. We should hear back on their final decision within 1-2 weeks. (Deep breath).

My awesome new partner also presented our plan to a Private Investor on Friday of last week. Saturday I headed into the city to meet them both at the potential cafe site, to show him around, present more start-up costs and generally try very hard not to giggle nervously between sentences. (I crack bad jokes when nervous - doesn't always help me out.) He spent the weekend looking over our plan, numbers and thinking, and came back yesterday that he'd like to help.
(The above picture roughly describes my reaction to the news. Dilluted 1000x so as not to offend our lovely readers).

So now we're working on another presentation, to help show The Private Investor how his money will help, where it will go exactly, and why we absolutely know, in the bottom of our little pink hearts, that right now is the time to do this. Right now is the perfect time to do this.

Amidst all that, we've also got appointments at the bank to get the account open and ready to receive said funds, at the lawyer to finalize the corporate directors and officers (we'll have titles! ), at the accountant to sign the letter of engagement, and then finally with an architect to get new plans drawn up. Said plans will be used to generate quotes from contractors, who we need to finish some of the work in the space we're looking at.

Soon, hopefully very soon, once we have the confirmation of financing to back us, we'll start the negotiations with the landlord. That's a whole 'nother post though, and while I know the pictures I've provided have been superb, I'm sure you're tired of reading by now.

Next time we'll tell you all about that - for now, enjoy the rest of your week, and if you've got the time drop us a line!


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Planet Bean

Tuesday night, as soon as I got home from a long day of work I popped in the house, grabbed my car keys and headed to Guelph.

Why would I want to drive to Guelph after a long day, instead of stay home, make hot chocolate and curl up with my puppy and a good book?

(Of course I can't write a post mentioning Caillou and not posting a picture of The Cutest Dog Ever, so I'll get it out of the way now.)

Good coffee of course!

And not just any good coffee. Planet Bean good coffee.

I discovered Planet Bean on one of many research blitz online, read all about them on their website, and then emailed them asking about their wholesale offerings. I heard back shortly thereafter, by none other than Byron Cunningham, their CEO. He goes on to tell me all about the company, and I like this place more and more every line I read.

See Planet Bean sells fair-trade, organic coffee - just like several other suppliers I found in Toronto. Unlike many of those other suppliers, they are wholly commited to fair-trade, the certification, and quality of their product.

They are certified by TransFair Canada (http://transfair.ca/) - the nonprofit certification organization that promotes and licences fair-trade operations in Canada. You've probably seen the logo :

If you're not sure what fair-trade really means - read about it here.

One of their best selling coffees is called Cafe Femenino, and I was sent home with a bag of it. It's delicious coffee, and even better, it comes from a wonderful place. The first of it's kind, a cooperative of women in Peru started growing their own organic, shade-grown coffee, and using the profits to support their community. According to Bill Barrett of Planet Bean Coffee "Women in these rural areas are said to be at a 70% risk of sexual assault. They have few resources, no support network limited education and no control over the household income." This allows them to take control of their lives, the education of their children, and increasing their quality of life.
This network has grown, and now involves over 750 women, in 50 different communities.
Read more about it here.

While sipping samples of some of their single-origin coffees, Byron explained to me that this principle carries through everything Planet Bean does. The company is employee-owned, and the driving principles of the company are to be ethical, operating in a democratic manner, and ecologically sustainable.

Now that is the kind of partner I want in a coffee supplier.
We talked about my plans for Cafe Novo, and how together we can help educate coffee lovers about fair-trade practices, and dispell the notion that fair-trade equals lower quality, more expensive.

I got to peek inside the magic room - where the roasting takes place. The smell was out of this world. (Although as opposed to the picture, the roaster wasn't present - just imagine what the steam coming off those beans would smell like. Heaven!)

You wouldn't believe the smell, thetaste of some of these coffees - by the time I left with four more samples of coffees I hadn't tried, I was brimming with excitement. I drove home absolutely giddy about being able to share them once the cafe is up and running.

Ahhhhh, I now cannot wait to get home, and make myself a coffee.

I'll leave you with a link to an interesting article about the health benefits of coffee, as reported by Harvard researchers - enjoy!


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What's in a Name?

Got some good news today - the lawyer got back to me to say the initial search gives the go ahead for the name I've chosen : Café Novo Inc.


Now this isn't a full green light, as she now needs to do the NUANS name search, to ensure there aren't any registered names that are confusingly similar. That won't take long, and generally from what I understand if the pre-search gives the go-ahead, it's smooth sailing.

A bit about the name...

I thought about all the cafes I've liked, and their names. Some don't indicate coffee at all, like Cherry Bomb on Roncesvalles Ave in Toronto, with their little bomb sign :

Super cute, I admit, and if you know a bit about coffee you realize it does tie in - coffee beans are actually cherry pits.

I do appreciate when a business is frank, and tells me what they are selling however. I wanted the word café in my business name. I wanted to convey the clean, crisp interior I picture, and the feeling you get when you just take a moment to relax and enjoy a good coffee, or aromatic tea and watch the world go by.

I couldn't think of just the right word to convey all of this in one neat package. So I turned to the mother of our langauge, latin.

ex novo
'from new'
Said of something that has been built from scratch.

In general usage, de novo is a Latin expression meaning 'afresh', 'anew'.

novo : to make anew, refresh, revive, change, alter, invent.

All of this summed up to me what I plan for the cafe to represent, to enliven, refresh and renew.

I'm not only re-inventing myself and what I do, but I'm offering in the cafe a moment for others to refresh, renew and enliven themselves. I think it's simple enough that you don't have to 'get' it to appreciate the name itself, but it fleshes out the concept I have.

And I won't lie - I said it outloud a few hundred time, and like how it rolls of the tongue. If you like saying it, you're more likely to pay a visit!

So tomorrow I head to the lawyers to sign the initial paperwork to start getting the company incorporated. Hopefully it won't take too long, and then I can finally start applying for all the licences I need from the City of Toronto, the Province of Ontario, and our lovely Country of Canada.

I think I summed it all up in the Twitter post of the same topic - let's get this freakin' party started!!


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tweeted Pictures + Updates

I've put up some pictures of the abandoned Starbucks space that might house Cafe Novo, on my Twitter.
Check them out by clicking on the little birdy below this sentence :

In todays news, the old Second Cup loction was a bust - the place is a mess, and would need alot of work. Plus the guy who owns it is delusional about how much he should get for the all the broken down dirty stuff they left behind - $50K! Dreaming!

The space on Queen was nice, but huge, not set up with the plumbing I'd require (knew that going in), and the vibe I envision for Cafe Novo wouldn't fit well into the neighborhood. It's trying to be much edgier than I would be, and I think I'd suffer because of it.

All of this solidifies in my mind the abandoned Starbucks location. I'm doing a walk through Tuesday night with a friend who works in cafe construction for another big company who remain unamed - he will be much better than I at estimating the cost to complete the renovations.
Fingers crossed there aren't surprises I can't see, or don't know about that will cost alot in time or money.

While downtown I checked out Tealish, where I will be sourcing my tea from. Cutest little shop off Queen W, on Walnut St. Had an amazing honeybush tea, so soft and simple and delicious. I can't wait to offer these teas to everyone!

(Inside Tealish)

Then we headed down to Zuccarini Imports, to suss out the gorgeous Elektra Barlume that I'm dreaming about showcasing at Cafe Novo. They didn't have the demo model there, it's being lent to a cafe while the machine they've ordered is en route, but I did get to speak to the owner, Jackie, about leasing options, and installation etc.
She's awesome - she'll sell me the demo machine, for a great price and the lease-to-own options are very fair. The cost includes the water filter, installation and training. I can even send any new staff to them to be trained on the same machine I'll have in my cafe! All covered! So I'm going to be sitting in on one of the training sessions they have planned in November, and get in on this latte art!

All in all a successful Saturday, tomorrow sees me working on the business plan, to be able to submit it next week.

Have a great night everyone!


Friday, October 23, 2009


Last night I looked at a space that might house my cafe.
In downtown Toronto, I got the heads up about it from my accountant, awhile back. I dismissed it as being too expensive, but recently started thinking about it again. Maybe it was worth having a look at?
So have a look I did, and I'm so glad I did. (Thanks Eddy!)

First off, some history. The place was gutted and rebuilt from the ground up (literally - new foundation in basement and all) for Starbucks. Anyone remember awhile back their old CEO came back on board and pulled in the reins hard to slow their dropping stock price? He closed hundreds of stores in a week, and put the brakes on any in development. Well this one fell into that catagory. The landlord had done everything they asked, and they backed out without the grace to pay him for his troubles. He'll get his in court I'm sure.

Anyways back to my coming into this story. It's all windows, light and airy, and it's a clean slate. Fresh drywall, and pipes sticking out of the floor. They had a massive counter space planned, that I would shrink. They didn't have a wall oven planned, but I can fit it into the back room, right next to the double door fridge.

I'd lay white knotty pine, and not stain it, for the cafe floor. The bathrooms, backroom and behind the counter would be tiled. I know just the antique store I'd get my assortment of chairs from, and soon I'm going to start flea-mearket / antique store hunting for mis matched tables, that make me feel like sinking down and enjoying a morning treat on their well worn surfaces. Hydrangeas in little bowls spotting them in the summer. I could seat around 30, comfortably in this space.

Starbucks did their market research - the area is begging for a cafe. Nothing for blocks, in either direction. There is a bus stop right outside the side door, and the Loblaws across the street means free parking for my customers. At 8pm on a windy cool night there was enough foot + car traffic that I could stay open later. Further into the residential street are stunning row houses, all well maintained and decorated.
It's perfect. When we stepped in I could almost hear it crying out, please, make me into something beautiful.
So now it's crunch time. I will finish the business plans this weekend (one per institution / gov. program I'm going after!) and start submitting on Monday. Once I have access to the start-up capital I need, it's on.

In the meantime, I'm taking no chances and going to look at another space on Saturday, in the lovely Parkdale area of Toronto, on Queen W. It wasn't a cafe, which means more construction $$, but it's less per month, and in another cafe-bereft zone. I'm sure I'll have plenty to say about it tomorrow night. While I'm in the Big City I'm checking out Zuccarini Imports, where I hope to lease my darling Elekta Barlume, as well as checking out Tealish, where I'm dying to sample some of the delicious teas I'll most likely be stocking at Cafe Novo.

Wish you all a wonderfully happy Friday, and if you don't check back until Monday - a fabulous weekend too!


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Little birds.

Alright who's on Twitter?
I'm new - add me!


I know a ton of you are on Twitter, I just need to find you... feel free to email me your names!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Good news.

Good news on the cafe front this morning - I've just finally heard back from the CYBF (Canadian Youth Business Foundation) and they've processed my pre-application for a start-up loan.

I can apply for the max amount, $15,000!

With that step out of the way, I need to concentrate on finding the right place, so I can finish my business plan and submit it for their consideration. With a ton of other paperwork, naturally.

It will take at least a month for them to decide, and I have to get all paperwork submitted to them by the 1st of the month. Might be tight to make it for November, unless I find the perfect spot in the next week and a half.

Stranger things have happened, but I won't bank on it. As much as I'd love for this to start happening quickly, and get out of this office and into the cafe space, I need to be realistic.

I'm so excited about this with the CYBF - they have an amazing program where they match you up with a mentor, who works in the same field you are looking to start in. They work with you for two years (!!) to assist with start-up, and on-going business concerns. I know a couple people who have been mentored through this program and they can't stop raving about it.

Now I can also start looking at applying with the BDC (Business Development Canada), who will match what the CYBF grant me in loans. Another round of intense paperwork of course, but I'm so glad I have the option to appeal to the government for assistance!

Once that's in place, I need to start harassing banks, and credit institutions.

In the immortal words of Hannibal - I love it when a plan comes together.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The why and the what.

So it turns out a little background is warranted - here it goes.

I worked in a cafe when I was younger, and loved it. I like getting people their happy morning ritual, I like making their amazing latte, and I like the fast-paced rush when it gets busy and everything just falls perfectly into place.

I love how cafes are a haven, a meeting point, a safe place to get away and read a book, and a social hub all at the same time.

I've been in several good cafes, but I've never been in one I absolutely love everything about - and I think I can build that cafe. I also think others will love it as much as me.

I want sun-washed pale green walls, with cream accents. Mismatched second-hand wooden chairs, painted white, with dark wood tables. Benches along the walls with cushions, and a couple oversised ridiculously comfortable tub chairs. A bookshelf stacked with books to read if you forgot yours. Well worn wooden surfaces, grooved with loving use and solid.

I can picture exactly what it will look like, smell like and feel when you walk in. It will be warm, the air scented with coffee and fresh baking.

There will be a coat rack when you first walk in - hang up your jacket and stay awhile!

When you look up at the blackboard drink menu, you won't be bombarded with complicated names, or so many options the writting is tiny and hard to read - but we'll be glad to make you a custom drink, provided we can. There will always be fresh baked cupcakes, scones (with clotted cream and jam!) muffins, cookies and various other treats - all made with organic ingredients when possible.

The coffee and tea will all be fair trade and organic, from local roasters. Coffee won't be from a carafe, or a drip machine, but made in a french press in front of you. You can order a pot of tea to take to a table and relax with, as well as a mug.

The walls will be full of art from local artists - there will also be a small display stand with fares from local soapmakers, jewellery makers, knitted and crochetted goods... this will change monthly. We will have a raffle once a month to choose a new charity, pet shelter or fundraising cause, to which all the profits of a certain cookie or mini-cupcake will donated.

Does it sounds like a cafe you would visit, and go back to, so far?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

It begins.

I suppose it would make sense to start this with a history, and a brief description of the reasons I've decided to go with my gut and do this. By this I mean open my own cafe.
But I'd imagine most of you know me, my history, and why I'm doing this.

So instead I'm going to dive right into updates.

I thought I had the perfect space in Oakville - great area, perfect demographic - but it turns out the landlord isn't interested in bringing the building up to code. And while I'd love to foot the $30,000 bill for her, turns out I have plenty of other expenses.

Like the espresso machine I'll be getting, to turn out the amazing coffee you'll be coming in for.

This beauty is built by Elektra, her name is Barlume. She's a two-group gorgeous drink of water. Or espresso.
I've also chosen the main grinder I'll be using - a Mahlkoenig K30 Twin. It's badass.

While I don't have the perfect space yet - I did find the perfect mugs. Just so happens the over-sized textured mugs I've had my eye on from the PC Home line were on sale this weekend, so I stocked up. I'm now 24 lovely, pale creamy coloured mugs closer to opening.

I do have a new space to look at, I'm waiting to hear from the real estate agent on when.
I'll be keeping everyone posted with new updates as they happen - same bat-time, same bat-channel.

Until then, you stay classy.