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.