It’s 3-o’clock in the morning and you can’t sleep. You lie awake in bed, staring at the ceiling, and absentmindedly listening to the late-night traffic outside. You hear a garbage truck drive by, and then a few transport trucks. You think to yourself, “Wow! It must be difficult being them, having to work at this ungodly hour.” Although remember, there’s a badass barista out there who has to serve them their first coffee of the day.
With Paris ahead and Reims behind…
it was time for Life to offer me her newest challenge. And, oh my, she never disappoints!
I arrived at Marché International de Rungis on the morning of Nov. 2, 2016 to find a mountain of boxes in front of the newly built Direction Coffee, the brainchild of Columbus Café & Co. Too curious to resist, I peeked inside the café – the smell of fresh paint and sawdust still in the air – and found it completely empty. No tables. No chairs. No coffee machines. Nothing. And then, I looked back at the mountain of 300 boxes…
And so began 3 days of…
Blood, Sweat, and Tears! Every table and every chair was assembled and arranged. Every cupboard and every fridge was stocked and inventoried. Every machine and every gadget was placed and programmed. Little by little, Direction Coffee began to transform into a functioning coffeeshop.
On the first day…
the entire staff assembled for the first time. One chef, one barista, two vendors, and the boss. Definitely a team of misfits, but with one thing in common: we all love to smile – a killer attribute for captivating customers. 🙂
On the second day…
as if Life wasn’t challenging enough, she presented us with a horribly unnecessary obstacle. The second day was our Marketing Day, and so, we, the team of misfits, trekked around Marche Rungis to hand out free samples & merch to our neighbouring businesses. Seemed straight forward at first, except Life decided to send us a snowstorm! WHY NOW? Before then, it hadn’t snowed in Paris in years. And it wasn’t the fluffy, first-snowfall-of-the-season type of snow that disappears when it touches the ground, but the kind that’s relentless and accumulates slush. Urghhh… THIS IS THE REASON I LEFT CANADA! Our shoes were soaked and our fingers were frozen in mere seconds. Life is grand!
On the third day…
was our official Opening Day. Killer coffee was made by moi and served by my cutie, cute coworkers. We had Columbus’ espresso blend and an Ethiopian filter on tap in addition to muffins, paninis, bagels, sandwiches, cakes, and various other pastries. The third day was only a little challenging. We were missing a few important things, like a float for the cash register, but all in all, the day was a success.
Seeing JoJo*, the owner of Direction Coffee, go through the process of opening his very first coffeeshop will always be an irreplaceable experience for me. I only moved the mountain of boxes into the café, but he was the one who conceived, selected, and planned their arrival. And placing orders is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of his responsibilities. Then, he has to overlook a mountain of paperwork that goes with hiring staff, not to mention dealing with building leases, utility bills, meetings with the architects, electricians, painters, plumbers, and other craftspeople, and the non-stop calls from the Columbus Cafe & Co. head office.
Opening a café is no easy feat
Not in the least! My hands are scarred, my body is bruised, and my mind is exhausted, but I have a clearer idea of what awaits me in the future if I decide to open my own cafe: 帰る [ka·e·ru] Domicile. For now, I’m honoured to help Jonathan realize his dream of being a café owner. And together, we will forge a new path for Columbus Cafe & Co., allowing this 2nd wave institution to become a 3rd wave phenomenon.
As always, thank you for reading and joining me on this #internationalcoffeejourney
*names changed to protect the privacy of the individuals
Do or do not. There is no “try”.
Want to see me in full barista mode with my Pink Lady?
You’ll have to wake up a little early:
Monday to Friday