It was a relatively simple transition for brothers Jeremy, Toby and Rufus Cavan to take over the former Planet Bean cafe on Gordon Street.
“I was running this place before as a Planet Bean,” said Jeremy. “I owned this location but we decided to split off because we had a bunch of cool stuff we wanted to try and do.”
It was an amicable separation.
“From the beginning we were on the same page that we may have to separate eventually,” said Jeremy Cavan. “They let me stay on as a Planet Bean initially to wet my feet in the business and make sure we were successful. Once everything was going well everything switched over. It has been a very smooth transition.”
The brothers play and record in two separate black-metal bands called (U) the Band and The Long Dark Road and they like to joke around a lot, but they take their coffee very seriously.
“The first time I had a good cup of coffee at a roastery I was 13 years old,” said Rufus Cavan. “It was from a guy named Cat who had a place called Cat’s Coffee and he had this catch phrase, ‘You drink it black or I take it back.’ The first time I had an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe it changed everything for me and from there on in I was always drinking specialty coffee.”
Rufus worked for 10 years at Planet Bean perfecting his art.
“I wanted a job that was ethical or strongly rooted in ethics so that’s how I ended up at Planet Bean,” said Rufus. “I was the head roaster in charge of quality control, head of production and the head of green buying at Planet Bean Coffee until Oct 1.”
That was the day he and his brothers reopened the Gordon Street location under the new name and set out to take the brewing experience at Cavan Coffee to a whole new level.
“We are treating it more as a third-wave café rather than as a second-wave café,” said Jeremy. “So, there is a lot of attention to experiential details and preparations. For example, for our macchiatos we only use frozen distilled milk, which we do in house.”
They are broadening their baked goods selection to include more dairy and gluten-free options and offering more non-dairy based milks such as oat milk and soy.
“We have like 10 coffees and a totally different recipe for each of them,” said Jeremy. “That includes temperature and time variation. Each time we get a new coffee we go through a procedure of testing where more than one of us brew it and we focus on different flavours and try to accent them as much as possible and then we adopt that as our structure for brewing.”
They are planning a major renovation of the café in January.
“We are getting rid of pretty much everything in here,” said Jeremy. “We are going to break it down into a lab like environment where there is a central focus for baristas – a nice, uncluttered, modern simplistic work environment so we can hone our craft much more accurately.”
They will continue to buy Fair Trade Organic coffee from Planet Bean and are sourcing their teas from a company based in Montreal.
“It’s a company called Camellia Sinensis and the teas are spectacular.,” he said. “They are all brewed to order and come with their own kettle and cups and serving plates. We have a brand-new espresso machine and brand-new grinders. We have a new coffee brewer coming, which will be one of only two in Canada. It’s called the Cyclops.”
They have even developed an egalitarian pay structure for employees.
“Everyone here is paid equally,” said Jeremy. “The owners get paid exactly the same as everyone else. Any profit we make goes back into the business and paying off debt. Once the debt is gone it will go toward increasing the wages, so it is a totally egalitarian pay model. There is a pretty heavy focus on making sure our employees are happy and awesome.”
They hope the formula of happy employees and the third-wave café experience will make for happy return customers.“That sort of stuff is really important to us,” said Jeremy. “The focus is on quality. We are the owners and that attention to detail is a reflection of us.”