There is a new coffee spot in New West for your daily caffeine fix.
Not so new for New West Farmers Market regulars though.
Mükasi Coffee & Co. has already been selling its hand-roasted coffee beans at the city’s Thursday market this summer. In fact, it was the response from market-goers that pushed the coffee roasters to start a café in town.
“We've always had great feedback and great support from the community here. So we thought this would be a perfect place to set up a café,” said Henry Aboagye, who co-founded the company with his wife Michelle Song in Aug. 2020.
First launched as a business that sold roasted beans at pop-ups and farmers markets, the small roastery grew into a full-fledged café in six months — opening its first location at the Sevenoaks Shopping Centre in Abbotsford.
A little over two years since then, they have expanded to New West's Front Street with a menu that includes coffee, baked goods and ice-cream sundaes.
Customers who step in for a cup of Joe will be treated to the sight of rustic brick walls, a large orange couch and roaster equipment.
The store roasts all its beans on site during the café's closed hours, said Aboagye.
However, there are plans to offer customers the experience of watching the process live in future — a process that Aboagye said he has been perfecting since the beginning of COVID.
Born as a pandemic hobby
During the lockdown, Aboagye and his partner had found themselves stuck in a routine.
”We would wake up, watch Netflix and go back to bed. We would do it all over again the next day,” he said.
“After a month of doing that, I was going crazy. I said to my wife, ‘We’ve got to be busier than this.’”
The husband and wife, who both have several years of experience working in the hospitality sector, found a hobby.
They bought some green coffee beans and started roasting them in their kitchen. This became an everyday practice.
Aboagye taught himself the art of coffee-roasting through YouTube and Google.
To start with, he used a “little” popcorn-maker to roast, before slowly "graduating" to a one-pound coffee roaster — “It got better and better,’ he said.
“One day, my wife came in, and she tried the roast that I had made. She was like, ‘Wow, this is so good. It's better than even Costco's.’”
At the time, Costco’s vanilla-flavoured bean was their gold standard for coffee.
Song suggested that they take their roasted beans to a farmers market, but Aboagye wanted to try selling it online first.
After a month of getting zero orders online, they both agreed to set up a stall with 20 bags of roasted coffee beans, at UBC Farmers Market.
“Thirty minutes into the market, we were sold out!” he said.
“That propelled everything for us. And things just took off from there,” he added.
Coffee from around the world
At that first farmers market, Mükasi had featured beans from two countries: Colombia and Ethiopia. Now, their collection includes beans from Brazil, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Tanzania and Peru, among others.
It wasn’t easy to import green coffee in bulk, said Aboagye. “Since we were new, nobody would provide us with their contacts."
The couple eventually found a trustworthy source in WestCoast Coffee Traders, a family-owned specialty coffee importer. This was a significant step towards growing their business beyond the kitchen.
Though two-stores strong now, the company's name will always be a reminder to its beginnings.
For, in Ghana, where Aboagye is from, mükasi means kitchen, he said.
And the intimate café and roastery in New West is an ode to that.
Mükasi Coffee Roasters is located at 417 Front St.