In a nutshell: Serious Coffee first opened its doors in 1994 and in 20 years has grown to 25 cafés across Vancouver Island. The Chamber sat down with Dave Goudy from Serious Coffee to learn more about this Island-grown business.
# of Employees: over 200.
Industry Sector: Food and beverage
Area of Town: All over Vancouver Island
Primary Product/Service: Damn fine coffee.
How would you describe Serious Coffee in 30 words?
Serious Coffee is an Island company, 2014 is our 20th year in business and we still roast our beans only when ordered, not before, keeping true to our roots.
What is the best part about doing business in Greater Victoria?
The best part about doing business on the Island is the people. I was born and raised here myself, and it has always been about the local people and local businesses. Whenever possible, we try to purchase products and services from fellow Island businesses. For example, our head office is in Duncan so we purchase all our office supplies from Monk Office, because Monk is an Island company. Also, I often go to the Chamber’s Business directory if I’m looking for some type of service outside of Duncan, where I don’t already have a contact.
What is the best thing Serious Coffee is doing for Greater Victoria/Vancouver Island?
Serious Coffees cafés are franchised, so the owners have a good idea of how to give back to their community. We give back and support groups through our fundraising packages, donations, sponsorships, bursaries and more. We don’t normally give big donations or sponsorships, because we like to spread our donations throughout the whole Island but we try to do as much as we can. Sometimes we’ll do different things, like several years ago we did a special roast for the Tour de Rock and for Jeneece Edroff when she was raising money to build Jeneece Place.
What is your favorite thing about working at Serious Coffee?
Shawna Powell, the manager at our Broad Street café is better able to answer this question from the perspective of someone who is in the café every day. She has kindly shared her experience, "I like interacting with the public, from the young to the old and people from all around the world because of our location downtown. It’s all about establishing relationships with the customers because they really appreciate the small things like remembering their names and their orders. One time we had a regular customer bring the staff flowers! It’s the little things that my co-workers and customers do that make this job great."
Do you have a special memory while working at Serious Coffee that really stands out?
We actually had a marriage proposal at one of our stores! The future groom planned a scavenger hunt that ended up at Serious Coffee. He met with our staff beforehand and asked us to direct her to a certain seat so he could propose to her. It was pretty special to witness, and of course she said yes!
How has Serious Coffee changed from when you started working here?
Back in 1994 we rolled the dice and opened a café where we roasted the beans right in the store because we knew that we wanted to serve the freshest coffee possible. We didn’t know how people would respond to our unique approach but thankfully, people loved our beans and it took off. The biggest difference between now and then is simply the number of cafés we have opened. Our original philosophy and commitment to only serve the best tasting and freshest coffee possible remains the same. Anyone can brew a fresh pot of coffee but if they are using old beans that have been roasted weeks if not months before, it isn’t going to taste good. We always want to serve our guests the truest expression of freshness so we do our best to change and grow while remaining true to the cornerstone upon which our company is built.
Could you tell me a little more about the Jingle contest you just wrapped up? What is it going to be used for? What reasons did you have for making this contest?
The Jingle contest is a part of our 20th anniversary celebration and was intended to thank and encourage Island musicians because so many of them host, participate and encourage others to attend different open mic nights and jam sessions at our cafés. We opened the contest up to anyone who lives on Vancouver Island with the only stipulations being that the jingle had to be 10-15 seconds long and that they had to be about Serious Coffee. We were absolutely thrilled to see contestants from 9 to 70 years old coming from Campbell River, Comox Valley, Port Alberni through to Victoria, Sooke and everywhere between. No two submissions were alike and that made it so interesting. This kind of event is a natural extension of our overall philosophy to support local talent whether they are musicians, artists or anything else that we can be a part of. Sometimes our participation is inside one of our cafés but a lot of the time we sponsor or actively support local events where we know Islanders will benefit and shine. We feature local artists in our cafés and have done so long before it became the trendy thing to do.
The Jingle contest winners, Annie Handley and Dave Devindisch, are working with Imagine Words and Music to tweak the jingle's final product. They’ve added another verse to their winning jingle, this time with Annie doing the vocals and Dave accompanying her. We can't wait to get it on the radio so that people can hear this great musical duo's excellent creation. We are thrilled that we've been able to feature Dave and Annie all the way through from concept to final jingle.
What are 3 things that few people know about Serious Coffee?
We roast our own coffee right here in Duncan and only after we receive an order, nothing is roasted and warehoused like most other large companies do.
Every aspect of our company is locally owned and operated by Islanders.
Our method of roasting, called air-roasting, is dramatically different than the usual drum-roasting method used by nearly every other coffee company. It works like a hot air popcorn maker causing the beans to pop as they roast and because they are blown around by hot air, they don’t get that burnt aftertaste that is associated with a lot of coffees. No matter how dark the beans are roasted, they won’t taste or smell burnt. This surprises people tasting our dark roasts for the first time; turning them into diehard Serious Coffee fans.
How does Serious Coffee come up with the specialty coffee drink names?
Drew Silvey, our quality control and coffee guru, has three ways of doing this: by getting an idea for a flavour, picking up a trend in the food and beverage world, or making up a name that will inspire him to create a drink to go along with the title. From there, he figures out the flavour profile to make sure it will work and taste as best as possible. There’s a lot of work that goes into ensuring that all of the components put into a specific drink will consistently taste good no matter which café makes it.
What is Serious Coffee proudest of?
We are proudest of the fact that our fellow Islanders continue to support us. Without their loyalty and enthusiasm we wouldn’t be where we are today. There aren’t too many companies who have managed to stay exclusively on the Island and continue to grow. Thanks to our customers, wonderful staff and café owners, we’re still here and plan to be around for a long time to come.
Are there any other fun facts about Serious Coffee we should know about?
Every Serious Coffee is meant to reflect its surrounding neighbourhood right down to the artwork on the walls, so you won’t find any two that look the same. Though this is not considered to be the proper way to showcase a company’s brand, we feel that our cafés are an extension of their local community and as such need to have the look and feel that best represent those living in the area. Be sure to check out our various locations and see for yourself how different they look. Each unique Serious Coffee all share the same quality and friendliness.