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KANOO Coffee: a new warm space to connect with people and culture

KANOO Coffee opened earlier this month at 82 Yarmouth St.

KANOO Coffee is a new third wave coffee shop in Guelph that gives a nod to Métis culture.

Couple and co-owners Steve Neville and Amanda Tully dreamt about opening their own coffee shop for the last seven years. Three years ago they moved to Guelph and knew they could make their dream a reality.

The shop on 82 Yarmouth St., near Woolwich Street, opened on Feb. 17.

Working in hospitality in Toronto was something the couple had in common. Neville worked at Starbucks and an Italian espresso bar. Tully worked at Balzac’s and FIKA.

They wanted to create a warm space for people to connect over coffee, a pot of tea and baked goods. To keep people in the present moment there is no Wi-Fi. 

The pandemic had people move to remote work so they miss the water cooler conversation, said Neville. 

This is why they find the busiest time at the shop is from 10 a.m. to noon when they think people tend to get away from their desk at home and come get a coffee.

Neville is Métis from his mother’s side of the family. He wanted to feature his Métis side through the name of the coffee shop which is why it is called KANOO Coffee, kanoo means canoe in Michif.

It’s also a bit of an ode to Guelph since the shop is close to the Speed River. The canoe is a First Nations innovation and key to Métis ways of life, said Neville.

Neville and Tully like to think KANOO is a place people can come to be transported around the world by tasting different tea and coffee.

“There's little sprinkles of the culture in space,” said Neville. The terrazzo counter-top is reminiscent of puddingstone “which you can find in the islands on Lake Huron, which is where my family migrated from when they left Red River.” he said. 

The logo is a coffee flower and the design is a nod to Métis beadwork.

“I think it really lines up with what kind of the best of the coffee world does, which is really good land stewardship,” said Neville. 

For Indigenous people land stewardship is about being respectful and responsible, he said. The roasters KANOO features put an emphasis on terroir. It means you can taste where the coffee is grown and taste the culture of how it's grown, he said.

KANOO falls under third wave coffee culture. Neville describes it as quality coffee and espresso made with precision. In the third wave baristas use scales, and different tools to make espresso. There’s a science behind it, said Neville.

It’s a multi-roaster cafe where instead of roasting its own beans they have a couple rotating roasters. The roasters they choose have direct relationships with farmers.

As for food Nevillie and Tully chose things that would pair well with coffee and tea. Their favourite pairing is a cortado with chocolate amaretti cookies. 

There are also biscotti, pumpkin loaves, chocolate chunk cookies and zucchini scones. As the shop gets its footing it plans to expand the menu by adding breakfast sandwiches and lunch options.

The milk is organic and so is the house-made vanilla syrup.

Tully had the eye for design of the shop and began renovating it in July.

“We really just wanted to make a warm comfortable place to be. And we’re also really inspired by natural elements,” said Tully.

Her friend created a permanent installation made out of dogwood that crawls up a pillar to the ceiling. As the seasons change she’ll add flowers to the installation. 

Tully kept the wave stained glass art piece near the windowsill made by the previous tenant, Lucent Glass.

The shop hopes to grow in the future with patio space and music events.