Out in the Pacific Northwest you hear a whisper from time to time: “There’s some really cool stuff going on up on Vancouver Island.” The city of Victoria, BC has long been a hub for great food and beverage culture, and outstanding coffee, but we’re talking about a bit further afield, in places like the shh-don’t-ruin-it open secret surf town of Tofino, and in the mountain biker’s paradise of Cumberland. It’s here where we turn today to check out a brand new coffee bar serving the outdoors-minded community of Cumberland, an hour or so north of Nanaimo on the east coast of Vancouver Island.
As told to Sprudge by Avelyn Duncan.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
Laneway Coffee and Kitchen set to open early fall of 2022 in Cumberland BC, Canada. We are a multi-roaster cafe serving incredible coffee and elevated comfort food. I am a coffee professional and my life partner is a chef, so, joining forces to open Laneway Coffee and Kitchen feels like the natural progression of our careers and relationship! Our goal for Laneway Coffee is to elevate the experience of going out for a coffee the way that a taproom does for craft beer.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
While the cafe project has been in the works for over two years, we got access to begin our tenant improvements in May 2022. We are situated in a brand new building, that is still under construction, on the main drag and historical district in the village of Cumberland. What used to be an old mining town is becoming a destination for mountain bikers, artists, and folks craving the close knit community vibes that can only be found in a small town. Being that Laneway Coffee is situated in a new build, it felt very important to us that the design of our space felt timeless, as opposed to modern, to connect with the heritage charm of the town. As we are the first “third wave style” cafe in the valley, we went with bold, warm colors of dark green, light pink, and gold to challenge people’s expectation of what a small town coffee shop looks like.
The space itself is 1,150 square feet and after allocating space for a small kitchen, our bar and two bathrooms, we’ll be able to seat approximately 25 people. Our space has 13.5ft ceiling, which makes it feel quite grand. We were extremely lucky that the developer added in “Nana” windows, which are huge windows along the whole front of our shop that fold open accordion style giving us a beautiful indoor-outdoor flow. Having the windows fully open gives the whole room the feel of a large covered patio.
Although we have a micro-budget for our build out, we are doing our best to elevate our space through its function and design to create a space that feels polished and vibrant! Our bar is being built by a very talented carpenter from the community, Jared Popescu, who came up with a brilliant art deco inspired design using recycled MDF off cuts from a cabinet shop. This is our first experience with construction, therefore we’ve been learning a lot as we do our best to keep expenses down, and this has meant doing as much of the work that we can ourselves! As well as being a chef, my life and business partner Kellan Musseau is also an incredible vintage motorcycle builder. His skills for building choppers have been put to use in the cafe by welding our dish pit area together, metal fabricating a custom vintage style bar cart for our buss bins, and upholstering our otherwise budget chairs and stools.
What’s your approach to coffee?
At Laneway Coffee we aim to elevate the experience of going out for coffee the way that a taproom does for craft beer. We chose this wording very specifically as this is our way of explaining coffee as a craft product to our community and making the concept of being a multi-roaster cafe approachable.
As a coffee professional, I am SO passionate about coffee, and I hope that by sharing my passion, I can inspire members of my community to value coffee in the same way that they already value craft beer or wine. While we will serve some comforting and familiar flavors within our espresso and drip coffee program, we will also feature a rotating menu of coffees served on pour-over, which we hope will challenge people’s expectations of what coffee can taste like. This is important to us, as we believe that if the general public were to hold a higher respect for coffee, we could have a positive effect towards decolonizing coffee and elevating the future of the industry.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
Being that our budget is so small we are getting creative to purchase the best equipment we can so as to not let our budget hold back the quality of our product! We are purchasing a refurbished two-group Synesso Cyncra and found a steal of a deal on a secondhand yet almost new Mahlkönig EK43. We plan to also purchase a Nuova Simonelli Mythos Clima Pro as an espresso grinder, however, to save on costs initially, we plan to use our EK to grind for decaf espresso as well as all our filter coffees. Our EK43 will be quite the workhorse! Fun story, we are purchasing the Synesso from our wholesale partner who I used to work for. That particular, refurbished machine is the same machine that I first learnt on when I first started in this industry!
How is your project considering sustainability?
One of the way that we are considering sustainability throughout our project is by purchasing everything we can between our equipment, decorations, and furniture, secondhand. We are also painting and staining reclaimed MDF to build our bar and seating area. After finding out that the community doesn’t have a composting program for commercial businesses, we advocating for compost pick up from the city and are putting a system in place to separate our compostable packaging and food scraps from our coffee grounds, so they can be picked up weekly by a local farmer.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
Are you working with craftspeople, architects, and/or creatives that you’d like to mention?
We’ve been working with some amazing locals! Laura Prpich from Caribou Creative did our beautiful branding, Paul York from Draft Hub made our construction drawings a reality, Jared Popescu is in the process of building and designing our bar, Richardson Gonsor Paint and Coatings saved us from the disaster that would have been if we painted the 13.5ft high walls ourselves, Discovery Coffee has been offering us guidance along the way along as countless other businesses and humans who have offered us so much support!
Thanks for taking the time to read about Laneway Coffee and Kitchen!!