664 Discovery Street | Victoria, BC | 250-477-2323
1964 Oak Bay Avenue | Victoria, BC | 250-590-7717
Discovery Coffee is changing lives. For some (myself included), it is simple: you will realize what you have been missing your whole life, and no other coffee will ever compare. For others, it can be a profound experience with a complete culture shift and new way of viewing the coffee experience as a whole. No matter how seriously you take your coffee, or how uninterested you are as long as it tastes decent – Discovery Coffee has something new to offer each time you step through the door.
Recently, I sat down to chat with Logan, one of the owners of Discovery Coffee and a long-time family friend (I figure full disclosure is the best way to go to avoid any “gotcha journalism” in the future as he accepts his World Barista Championship award or the Presidency or something).
I first met Logan about 15 years ago on a baseball diamond at Layritz Park. From an early age, he had a golden glove, a catcher’s work ethic, and the ability to take charge of a baseball field. As an adult, he has successfully translated these skills into the establishment of the best coffee house Victoria has to offer. Logan’s passion, hard work and leadership skills are evident in every aspect of Discovery Coffee’s success, from the quality of coffee beans, to the engaging and helpful staff behind the counter.
I started out by asking Logan a couple of simple questions about his business:
a) Where did you come from?
b) Where are you going?
That was all I needed to do to unleash and hour’s worth of knowledge of and passion for Discovery Coffee, and the coffee industry in general.
Logan, Aaron, Beth and John founded Discovery Coffee in 2005 (a family business). Logan was returning from a live/work situation in Australia, where he had been immersed in a coffee culture that differed immensely from the average North American model.
Coffee was more of an ‘experience’ or ‘craft’ there, he explained, as opposed to the mindless routine it is here. Inspired, he decided to return to Victoria and set about changing local perceptions, one cup at a time. Somehow, he was able to convince the rest of his family (or perhaps they convinced him?) that a new coffee house with a fresh perspective was just what this city needed. Luckily, for Victoria’s coffee lovers, they were right.
So how does Discovery Coffee differ from the big chain coffee shops?
Well, for starters, you will not notice any menu boards at Discovery Coffee. You may notice a burlap sack or two hanging on the wall with the origin, month and type of coffee bean stamped on the front – a major hint that the product they serve is fresh, seasonal and roasted to perfection in small batches. The staff are encouraged interact with customers, so instead of a set menu, they ask questions and impart a little wisdom in an effort to break the traditional “coffee mold” we North Americans tend to be stuck in.
The staff are also encouraged to bring their personality and passion to the table. From the music selection (stuff on vinyl that is way cooler than me – Cat Stevens, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young etc.) to the usage of social media (Anya is the resident blogger/tweeter), they use their skills to enhance their workplace and reach their customers. The result is a happy, engaged team that could teach the scowling robots down the street a thing or two about customer service excellence.
Coffee tastings are offered a couple of nights a week, both for staff and for the general public. It is all part of the greater effort to engage and educate the local coffee community. Much like a wine tasting, customers are welcome to enjoy various types of coffee, and learn about the origin of the beans and the selection/roasting/brewing processes. Additionally, various courses and workshops are offered throughout the week (best to check the website for current information).
Another unique aspect of Discovery Coffee’s operation is that all of the roasting is done in-house. The beans are bought “green,” with samples going through Aaron (the resident roaster-extraordinaire) for approval. By constantly sourcing out the best crops from all over the world, then only ordering what they need for the season, Discovery Coffee consistently sells and serves the finest, freshest coffee in the city.
According to Logan, Aaron has an uncanny knack for “reading beans” – he can stick his hand in a batch of beans and tell you the moisture content with amazing accuracy. Although I was unable to witness this special skill for myself, I was able to snap a photo of Aaron’s “new” (old-school) roaster. Currently, it is on display in the quiet lounge, awaiting a permanent residency in the new roastery expansion (they are in the process of taking over the building next-door):
Discovery Coffee opened a second coffee house location (on Oak Bay Avenue) a couple of years ago, but Logan made it very clear they are interested in steady, slow growth as to not sacrifice quality and/or service. The focus for this year is on wholesale and roastery expansion, as opposed to opening another coffee house. If you don’t frequent downtown Victoria or Oak Bay, however, you may still be in luck – many restaurants in town proudly brew their coffee, and something tells me this number will be increasing exponentially in the near future.
Networking and camaraderie are two important ingredients in local and global coffee cultures. The success or failure of many small businesses can be directly affected by how they treat their clients, customers, staff, and/or competition. In a few short years, Logan has made numerous friends and connections within the coffee industry. His circle of friends includes Barista Champions from all over the world, as well as local coffee shop owners (sometimes these people belong in both categories). They all encourage, support and compete against each other with the goal of constantly learning new things and improving their craft – and no matter who “wins,” the outcome is always positive for the consumer.
During our chat, Logan must have mentioned half a dozen names of the people who had taught him, helped him and encouraged him since the inception of Discovery Coffee. Rather than viewing other local coffee shops as competition, he views them as colleagues and friends – allies with a common goal; to create a more enjoyable consumer experience; to showcase the diverse qualities and tastes coffee has to offer; and change our way of thinking about something so common, yet so misunderstood.
If you would like to learn more about the happenings at Discovery Coffee (tastings, workshops, special events etc.) you can visit their blog, Facebook page or website. You can also follow them on Twitter (@DiscoveryCoffee).