An introduction to Coffee Addicts ~ Meet Samantha
We have spent so much time building this company from the ground that we never really put our faces out there. Who the heck is Coffee Addicts anyways?!
Well, Coffee Addicts is a lot of things but it started with two people. And it’s time to start sharing that story. So to start, I will tell you about me, because our stories led to the birth of this crazy little website.
My name is Samantha. And I am a Coffee Addict.
My coffee journey started a very long time ago, 17 years old, I got my first barista job. The café I started working at was a very busy community café that had an authentic Italian coffee menu and was known for its vegetarian options. My hippie 17 year old self was so on board for that! If you’ve never worked in a coffee shop…let me tell you how you get trained; you don’t. As most new baristas, I was thrown in the deep end and very much so drowned at the mercy of a Nuova Simonelli, a very old and poorly cared for Aurelia. (That almost burned the café down at a later date actually.) Eventually I got there and there was nothing more exciting than those line ups of 30 lattes at the bar and the challenge of making every drink by memory as fast as possible, with a smile of course
It was clearly where my heart belonged and somehow the stars aligned and I bought that very same café…at the ripe old age of 20. YES. 2-0. I can’t even tell you how. Or why. It just sort of happened. It was cheap (relatively speaking) because even though it had the appearance of being this super busy and super profitable business, it was actually losing money. So I took the leap because I knew I could make it better. AND I DID! In two years, it wasn’t just profitable, it EXPLODED. I created a cozy welcoming space that people fell in love with. It was full of energy and love and laughter. The regular customers became my family and my baristas were my kids.
By 30, I had 3 cafés. Overly ambitious for a barista at heart but I definitely have some workaholic tendencies, I won’t even pretend to be a normal person.
Owning coffee shops is not an easy thing to do in the best of circumstances. But owning coffee shops in Calgary has been a serious challenge. So many ups and downs with the economy. So many ridiculous city run construction projects that take way too long. And I won’t even get started on the pandemic…
Every year there were new challenges but every year I just kept moving forward. However something that was uniquely challenging for me was getting the support I needed. And I will never know if it was because I was too young to be taken seriously or if it was because I was a girl. Or a bit of both. But NO ONE took me seriously. I got laughed at, questioned, accused of not being the owner. Even when buying a brand new espresso machine, I got told I wasn’t allowed to learn basic maintenance….because I was a girl so let the men take care of this stuff. I absolutely didn’t have the confidence to fight back so I just believed it! I seriously didn’t learn how to change a head gasket until I was 28 (literally 8 years into owning a coffee shop!)
From the time I started in the coffee industry to about ten years in, the coffee culture exploded in Calgary with the likes of some of the most known brands in the country. I won’t share my specific experiences with them or name names because I ain’t holdin’ no grudges….but as a café owner with a decade of experience under her belt, it was weird to get treated like you didn’t deserve the liquid gold they were selling. Great coffee, cool places…but that atmosphere….what is up with great coffee always being paired with that snobby culture?? For years, I felt like I had no right to be a part of the coffee universe at all.
It took a long time to start learning that enough is enough. I can change my own damn gaskets and I am allowed to make AND appreciate good coffee! A lot of which has to be credited to my business and life partner, Marc. He’s got the opposite history, people take him too seriously. The guy is INTENSE. (You’ll get his story and how we partnered up on the next post) He is the brains and I am the heart of everything in our life. He taught me a lot about being an actual business person and not a push over that just takes people's crap.
As our businesses aged, we struggled to get the things we needed for our cafés. From parts, to equipment, to service we couldn't afford. Even as we started to learn how to fix our own problems, it was impossible to find everything we needed in Canada.
So naturally, as the serial entrepreneurs we apparently are, we decided to just be the company we needed. Espresso Gear Canada was born. It started with the parts we needed ourselves, as a lower risk investment. If no one wanted to buy La Marzocco or Mazzer parts, it was ok because we’d eventually need them anyways. The more we delved into the coffee industry, the more we realized how much was missing in the market. We went into it knowing what we wanted to be for our own selfish needs, a friendly place to get parts and café supplies in one place. We never expected to learn that people were also struggling to find parts for their home machines too! The transformation from Espresso Gear to Coffee Addicts is a whole other story, to be told another time.
So this little something that started as a side hustle, very quickly exploded into a huge website, in what feels like, overnight! The growth has been a little hard to handle as we are still managing 3 other businesses….during covid…. Some days, I open a café and work a full baking shift and then rush to ship out everyone’s orders, still covered in flour. Other days I am rushing the clock to get 3 days’ worth of orders in before I pick up the kids from school. And we don’t have any Coffee Addicts employees …YET… Which is exactly why I haven’t spent any time on introducing us or being active on social media or starting the Coffee Addicts blog.
But if not now, when? Right now.
I barely have a vision on what it’s going to look like yet, but I do know it’s all going to be in the spirit of why Coffee Addicts exists in the first place.
And as welcoming as I like my coffee shops to be.
So from our very first customers that got stuck waiting for product for WAY too long because we didn’t have the right stock to the brand new regulars who placed 3 order in the last 30 days (I am not singling out anyone, seriously, there were a bunch of you!) Welcome to our coffee world!!! A place where everyone is welcome and everyone has a right to their opinion about coffee, no matter what it is. A place that it is okay to have fun and be goofy about it. A place you can find support whether you are a café owner or a self-taught-at-home barista. And a place that has just as much candy as it does coffee.
For anyone that would rather listen than read, here's a Spotify playlist that describes me as a person :)
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