For someone who never enjoyed a cup of coffee until he was 37, David Evans is doing pretty well in the coffee culture scene.
Evans, the owner of The Stick in the Mud, said when he finally had a cup of coffee made with care, attention and good beans, he was hooked.
The Stick, as it is referred to locally, is a gathering spot for those who enjoy their java. Located in a bit of a hole-in-the-wall, the Stick has been gathering steam for six years despite its location on Eustace Road. It has loyal customers who start their day with a coffee, latte, or whatever type of caffeine gets them jacked for the day.
“I think we’re doing something different and people are willing to walk a block-and-a-half,” said Evans. “This ‘terrible’ site is a great site.”
Evans said a friend told him the site could be the best location or the worst. Well, it hasn’t proven to be the worst.
Evans spent a lot of years doing other things. he worked in software development, radio, communication, landscaping and all kinds of other weird things. He has a degree in communications and knows how to market. He knows from radio that you need to keep changing things up to make it just a little different. He went from buying beans to roasting his own, expanding on his concept slowly but surely. He took courses, travelled, networked, learned what he needed to know and grew his business. All of this earned him a diverse customer base who arrive in stollers and scooters.
This year Evans bought a Guatemalan coffee grower’s entire crop. His friend and coffee broker, Edwin Martinez from Bellingham, introduced him to an independent coffee farm. Aurelio Villatoro has a small coffee farm called Las Lomas and this year he grew a little over 3,000 pounds of coffee. That’s 19 sacks worth. It’s all a part of Evans’ attempt to complete the circle of coffee from farmer to drinker… from seed to cup.
“There is a disconnect between the seed and the cup,” said Evans. “Coffee is the most handled product in the world, the most traded.” He scoops up a handful of unroasted beans to emphasize that each bean in touched by human hands.
His long term goal is to forge a stronger bond with the Guatemalan family and send his employees to the coffee farm for a week to gain awareness and respect for the farmer and the beans.
“I want them to know what it takes to get a cup of coffee.”
He wants to bring the Villatoro family to Sooke because he said they have no idea what happens here.
“My goal is to let them know what we want in a cup of coffee,” said Evans. He also wants to give the farmer a steady income.
Recently the Stick hired a baker to provide baked goods for themselves as well as to the Sooke River Store, all GMO free with good ingredients.
“It’s mostly treats — healthy treats, real products.”
The Stick is currently testing the market to see what customers want. Do they want GMO-free products, organic milk, gluten free products? A decision will be made soon, to coincide with the 6th anniversary.
“Something about GMO just bugs me,” said Evans. “There is no GMO labelling in Canada and we have to end up being pro-active in everything. The government relies on the consumer to have this broad knowledge.”
On Friday nights, there is usually some music playing at the Stick, they’re calling it Night Stick. It’s alcohol free and there is a small menu of items such as pizza to go along with the coffee/tea offerings. The walls in the Stick are a rotating art gallery with paintings selected by Elizabeth Tanner from the South Shore Gallery just around the corner. It’s kind of a neighbourhood thing said Evans.
The sixth anniversary shindig, Stick Fest takes place on July 7 around noon. Lots happening in the two courtyards, including stuff for the little ones, said Evans.
So what’s with all the Volkswagens toy cars around the place?
Evans said his first vehicle was a ‘62 VW and he’s had about two dozen since then.
“There’s no significance, it’s just an iconic symbol.”