Jeremie Thompson and Andrew Bassett are using their passion for roasting and preparing coffee to try to change Ottawa’s coffee scene with their business, Little Victories Coffee Roasters.
Thompson, the business' expert roaster, said coffee culture is much more developed in other Canadian cities like Vancouver and Toronto but Ottawa, he said, has some catching up to do.
“Ottawa I think has a tendency to be safe and follow behind… Let’s be the capital, let’s try to make coffee better.”
Little Victories was started by Thompson and Bassett as a coffee roaster in 2016. The first café opened at 1111 Wellington St. at the end of 2016 and the second one opened in the Glebe at 801 Bank St. at the end of 2017.
The company sells coffee to other restaurants, like Oat Couture and Morning Owl, but also sells drinks, bags of ground coffee and brewing gear out of the two storefront locations.
Little Victories is exclusively focused on coffee and making it better, Thompson said. The goal for he and Bassett when starting the company was to enjoy coffee and have fun.
“The whole reason we started it is to explore coffee and do fun things, and if we’re not doing that, then why does the company exist?”
While Little Victories started off by roasting coffee, he said the move to open shops and sell drinks was about having control over the experience until the very end, when it gets into customers’ hands. He said that by making the cappuccinos, lattes and espressos themselves Little Victories can make sure the drinks are perfect and precise.
At the beginning Thompson bought time on another company’s coffee roaster so he could start roasting his own. He said this showed him the sense of community among people in the coffee business and the desire for everyone to be successful, something Little Victories is trying to continue to develop.
“Higher tides float more boats so the better we all do as a whole the better each of us will do individually. There wasn’t really that mentality in Ottawa yet but we’re trying to cultivate that.”
Thompson said the business deliberately tries to be different from other coffee shops and roasters in Ottawa. One way is by roasting the coffee beans themselves in a unique way from other cafes in the city. He said they roast in the Scandinavian style, which leans towards light and medium roasts, rather than darker ones. Little Victories tries to strike a balance between the grassy taste and it being over-roasted. It’s all about accentuating the already-present flavours in the bean, he said.
“It’s hard to explain unless you’re actually drinking it,’ Thompson said. “There’s a specific thing we aim for, which is to have a coffee that’s like sweet, juicy, but also bright so it’s refreshing.”
Thompson said the aim was to make the cafés themselves stand out as well. Little Victories’ shops are simple and bright, with succulents on the tables. This prepares people for something new as soon as they walk in, he said.
“If we all just do that same things and don’t push it how are we going to get better? We’ve had a crap-load of failures... but also some really good things.”
“We’re here and we’re different for a reason,” Thompson said. “We want to see Ottawa elevate itself…. There are so many cool people doing so many different things and if we all just work together we can make a really cool scene.”