By Michael Abbey
I sat down with a very energetic member of the management team at Little Victories Coffee Roasters in the heart of the Glebe. Jeremie Thompson and Andy Bassett are co-owners of Little Victories Coffee Roasters. Thompson and Bassett have known one another for many years, so going into business together was a natural. The store was a pleasure to experience as was the time I spent with Adrian Murray, who is also part of the management team alongside Andrew Bonner and Michelle Dugas. Murray lived in the Glebe many years ago and has always liked the neighbourhood. He has been in the coffee business for about six years and sees the coffee industry moving in the direction Little Victories is pursuing. Their roasting is “unique to Ottawa in many ways but in the broader sense, the wave has been around for some time.” I have noticed that the consumer is now more focused on smaller entrepreneurs who concentrate on a variety of offerings coupled with a smattering of new blends to tempt existing and new clientele just coming on board.
“The Glebe, we thought, had a bit of a void in the market. Obviously, you have your big chains, like Starbucks and Bridgehead … but for the type of coffee we roast, and we make, there is definitely a void. We call it the third wave of coffee,” said Murray. Little Victories uses high-quality beans from Colombia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Costa Rica to name a few. These beans can tempt customers looking for alternatives to the larger purveyors of coffee. The company avoids overroasting, ensuring the green beans are not charred during the process. This ensures the consumer can experience the pleasure their unique raw materials have to offer. “While Little Victories Coffee Roasters offers a couple of blends, we are mainly a single origin (one type of bean) roaster,” Murray explained.
I mentioned my coffee experiences in Ethiopia, especially curious about the feedback on the sweetness of many beans from that eastern African nation. Murray mentioned that people’s eyes light up sometimes when sipping a single-origin coffee from that close-to-the-equator location. He mentioned frequent comments from regular customers centre on their delight in knowing they are going to get exactly what they expect from one day to the next. That consistency and commitment to a steady product from day to day contributes to loyalty and return business.
He mentioned during busy times there could be a lineup back to the door. When people move to the front of the line and know exactly what they want, they are not disappointed when their purchase hits their taste buds. Consistency, consistency and consistency are believed to be major contributors to return business. I could not agree more as I find in many of the larger chains, their pushing of new offerings interferes with their base product.
The farmers whose beans are being used at Little Victories Coffee Roasters do not use any agro-chemicals. The growers’ markets are increasing due to the loyalty of so many shops like Little Victories.
The setup in the shop was pleasantly sparse, with moveable tables and chairs allowing for seating of small or larger groups of customers. Everything they do and the way it is presented tempt their clientele to come in and stay as long as they want. The store is not wheelchair accessible now, though they are exploring a solution that will make it so. There were several little ones in the shop when I was there. I hope they were paying attention to what was happening around them which was all good. The clients of tomorrow maybe.
When you give Little Victories Coffee Roasters a try, look for the window on the east side of Bank Street between Third and Fourth avenues. Their modest shop window is easy to miss. Once inside, there is nothing easily missed … just ask your taste buds when the first sip hits the back of your mouth.
Michael Abbey is a retired high-tech professional and bridge enthusiast who writes about business for the Glebe Report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Little Victories Coffee Roasters
801 Bank St. Mon–Fri, 7 a.m.–7 p.m., Sat–Sun, 8 a.m.–6 p.m.