I am compelled to to resubmit my 2009 nomination of Cafe Haven, for the 2010 Sherwood Park & District Chamber of Commerce New Small Business Award (requirements: less than 10 employees, and fewer than 3 years in business). It still stands that Cafe Haven, owned and operated by Park residents Michael & Julie Harvey, is a worthy recipient.
Since my 2009 nomination, Cafe Haven has not only sharply improved sales volume, it has become further recognized by the Sherwood Park and Edmonton-area community, and been the subject of numerous accolades & glowing reviews.
These recognitions include but are not limited to Vue Weekly’s Golden Fork Awards, and an Edmonton Journal review declaring their cinnamon buns to be 2nd best in the Edmonton area. Reviews like this, and the numerous other informal reviews (like this one, this one, these ones, and this one) by the general public, have resulted in Cafe Haven becoming a “destination” in itself, with customers traveling to Sherwood Park specifically to frequent it.
Also notable among their accomplishments is that one of their barista’s, Alix Osinchuk, competed at this year’s Regional Prairies Barista Competition in Calgary; a challenging competition respected in the high-end coffee community.
The three reasons I have nominated Cafe Haven in the past, and do so again are:
1. Dedication to Superior Product
A cafe of this genre has two products; Food/Beverage, and Cafe Experience. There are times I have entered the Cafe to be excitedly greeted by a sleep-less Michael. He’s been “dialing in” his coffee brewer a good chunk of the night, and can’t wait for some feedback on the new brew. He shows me his charts, where he has painstakingly adjusted the variables in tiny increments – grind, water temperature, brew time, etc. – until arriving at the taste he’s searching for.
There are many reason why Cafe Haven offers the best coffee in the Park:
- They have chosen to source their beans from local roaster Transcend Coffee, who’s approach to roasting involves small batches carefully monitored and assessed.
- Your coffee is not ground until you’ve ordered it, and they never hold a grind for longer than 5 minutes due to the rapid oxidization of coffee.
- The coffee is never more than one week off the roast and is placed in vacuum one-way valve bags ensuring that your coffee has the minimum amount of contact with the air – the killer of fresh coffee.
- The twice former South Australian Barista Champion and current Prairies Barista Champion, has trained Cafe Haven to follow a meticulous process for making espresso and adhere to strict standards that ensure every drink is of the highest quality.
- They warm your cup.
- They won’t allow you to add Pina Colada syrup to your latte, because they love you.
The menu does not feature items you can find anywhere else within driving distance. It has been inspired by Michael & Julie’s travels around the globe, infused with Julie’s dedication to out-of-the-box experimentation, and crafted from scratch. Fresh, with your health in mind. Where else can you find a pumpkin, pesto and feta cheese ciabatta with arugula?
The sought after Cafe “Experience” is not something that can be purchased out of a box. It’s an intangible combination of lighting, music, colors, temperature, smells, furniture, and tastes. Couches to slouch on and read a book, nooks for private conversations, or tables to set up a laptop, connect to the Wi-Fi and get to work. A hard-to-resist retail display stocked with the even harder to find coffee-geek gear essential to making high quality beverages at home. Highly-trained baristas who remember you don’t need room for cream in your Americano. Cafe Haven has this.
2. Dedication to the Local Economy
The coffees, food ingredients, beers, wines & desserts have not been purchased from the lowest cost providers. Wherever feasible, they have made a commitment to supporting the local economy and are sourced from nearby farmers, grocers, brewers, roasters, and bakers. Not only does this reduce the environmental footprint due to reduced shipping and transportation, but helps ensure the livelihood of the independent entrepreneurs who are contributing to the charm and character of the area. Items, such as coffee beans which are not reputed to grow so well here, are ethically sourced with concern for our international neighbors: as fair or fairer than Fair Trade.
Further demonstrating this commitment, Cafe Have is a proud member of Original Fare, a “select group of independent restaurants committed to Promoting, Preserving and Protecting Culinary Diversity. Original Fare restaurants are independently owned and operated and offer original, diverse, authentic dining experiences you just can not get anywhere else.”
The Cafe has also proven itself to be an ideal venue for local artists, musicians, and story-tellers to share their talents with the community on Story Slam and Music Night. The walls proudly promote incredible local painters and photographers. In addition, their well-attended music nights have raised thousands of dollars for worthy charities and provides an intimate environment for friends and family to enjoy great live acts.
3. Dedication to Environmental Sustainability
Aside from significantly reducing their footprint by shopping local, Cafe Haven has a religious recycling system that recycles all plastics, paper, tins and glass; and composts between spring and fall. They provide incentives for customers to bring their own to-go mugs, and in the unfortunate event you have forgotten your mug they will provide you with their own compost-able ecotainers – sans judgement. Greener, safe alternatives to harsh cleaning chemicals are sought out and used where possible, and they have a long-term goal of being 100% green-powered.
That is all.
My only complaint is that I have been spoilt. Forever ruined for ordinary coffee and ordinary cafe’s. These commitments I have highlighted here are likely only the tip of the iceberg – what has become visible to me as a loyal customer. No doubt there are many other activities behind the scenes that lend further support, however these activities I bring to your attention, alone, make Cafe Haven the primary choice for the 2009 2010 Sherwood Park & District Chamber of Commerce New Small Business Award.
Cafe Haven: Website , Twitter, Facebook
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