It’s All About The Bean
Coffee is undeniably a large part of Steveston’s identity. It is difficult not to spot people strolling with a cup of joe in hand as they browse the village’s shops or take a walk along the dyke trails. The dark nectar helps get many Stevestonites days started and often wraps up evenings out.
For those who have recently moved to the area it may come as a surprise to learn that little Steveston Coffee Company was the original local coffee shop. Now in its eighteenth year, this independent business continues to carve out new territory. You can’t get more locally roasted beans than these. Their fair trade and organic coffee is roasted just up the road at their London Landing warehouse.
Husband and wife team Frank Fernandez and Debby Chou own the business. They credit founder and former owner Steve Tarczali for sharing his valuable knowledge and years of experience with them.
Born in London, England, Fernandez moved to Steveston in the late 1980s. He first spotted the coffee shop from across the street when he was dining at Dave’s Fish and Chips. He was immediately sold on the coffee and became a regular.
In June 2013 Fernandez left his fast paced job as an insurance underwriter and Chou departed from her work in the corporate world to purchase Steveston Coffee Company and invest in their community. Their two oldest children attend the same elementary school their father did (Manoah Steves) and enjoy living on the same street where he grew up.
The fact that Fernandez (head coffee roaster) and Chou (who manages the storefront) roast their own beans locally is what makes them unique.
“The most rewarding part of the business is meeting people who enjoy our coffee. It is very satisfying to form friendships and introduce my family to our customers.”
Fernandez takes great pride in the beans and he will enthusiastically share tales of the beans’ origins, right down to the farms and farmers that grow them. This may sound mildly impressive until you discover that Steveston Coffee Company carries over 30 types of beans. That’s a lot of stories. He says, “It is like travelling the world” when you visit the coffee shop.
With a sip of java you can instantly be transported to Africa, Asia, Central America or South America. With this image in mind, the company logo features a two-masted topsail schooner symbolic of our waterfront community with a historic nod to the shipping of beans globally.
Fernandez’s love of coffee stems from the unique countries where the beans are grown. Since each coffee has a distinct pedigree, he says, “It reflects the passion of its homeland.” He is proud that farmers are appreciated for their hard work when their beans are bought as specialty grade green coffee.
“To be honest, I don’t have a favourite. I see coffee as a never-ending journey; each has its own unique characteristics.”
Are you looking to branch out and explore a new taste? Some of the high-end beans Fernandez recommends include Kenyan AA, Ethiopia Kaffa Forest, Guatemala Antigua Estate Coffees (they sell three Cup of Excellence winners from the regions of Santa Clara, Puerta Verde and San Augustin), Finca La Providencia, and Finca La Cabana Honey.
Have you ever tried Congolese coffee? Commencing in February, Steveston Coffee Company will introduce one new coffee each month, starting with Congo. They also set the trend by introducing Cuban beans to Steveston village.
Last September the couple renovated the storefront to allow for an improved kitchen and food preparation area. They also took a look at the floor plan and improved the traffic flow by shifting the retail section.
Fernandez roasts beans and handles everything related to the coffee from marketing to ordering and logistics.
“I find it deeply satisfying to be able to offer a product without compromise. I am responsible from start to finish, from sourcing to roasting to delivering the coffee into our customers’ hands.”
On the front end you will find Chou who is responsible for staffing, ordering and assisting clients. The business has earned a reputation for being friendly and knowledgeable thanks to Chou and the dedicated staff.
In addition to the large variety of coffee (including the shop’s very popular signature Steveston Blend and Breakfast Blend) you will find a nice assortment of baked goods that pair well with beverages. There have been menu updates including the introduction of some gluten-free and vegan options. One of Fernandez’s personal favourites is the gluten-free peanut butter chocolate bar. He enjoys the simple high quality ingredients and the delicious taste.
Running an independent business is time consuming; however, the couple makes a point of giving back to the community. Fernandez is a coach and safety volunteer with Seafair Minor Hockey. Chou is actively involved with children’s charities. They whisk their children back and forth to hockey, soccer, baseball and school.
With the busy lives they lead it is fortuitous that Chou and Fernandez’s livelihood is fueled by one of Steveston’s most well loved beverages. Pay Steveston Coffee Company a visit – you are bound to receive a warm welcome and an exceptional cup of locally roasted coffee.
Steveston Coffee Company
110-3511 Moncton St
Richmond BC V7E 3A3