Meet The Makers Monthly Feature - Shatterbox Coffee Company

For the love of community, sustainable roasting, and really damn good coffee.

Shatterbox owners Brandon Foreman and Linda Watkin




Thomas and I have been Shatterbox goers since 2013. We used to live on Yates street and were thrilled to have an incredible coffee shop just a stumble away from our new home. It was always so nice to walk in and see Kalen's smiling face and a welcoming atmosphere that made you feel like family. This is one of the many beautiful qualities that has been carried on in Shatterbox's legacy by its new owners, Brandon and Linda.


I've seen Shatterbox elevate and grow as they moved locations, but I had no idea just how much this company has been involved in creating sustainability for the planet and the community. Their positive impact is very inspiring and I am very excited to share it with you. It was such an honour to sit down with Brandon and Linda as they shared their own introduction to the company, how they came to be the new owners, and a very fascinating insight into a more sustainable coffee culture.





The Origin Of Shatterbox Coffee Company


Shatterbox originally opened in 2012 by its former owner and creator, Kalen Harris.

In the pre Shatterbox days, Kalen trained as a barista in Germany. 'There he learned about blending coffees from different origins to create a really balanced, and dependably consistent product.' Shatterbox.ca


Kalen developed the flavour of the coffee all based on a northern Italian blend espresso. He is known as the master blender and is still a consultant for Shatterbox to this day.




A Coffee Shop Patron Turned Owner



"It was the best coffee I had ever experienced in the city. I went out of my way every day to go back. Even if I had to drive across town, that's where I was going to get my coffee."


Brandon Foreman is a musician, coffee connoisseur, and all around creative. This is the third coffee shop he has been involved in. When he and his former partner moved from Vancouver to Victoria, they opened up a cafe at Discovery Station which was an art collective that included a furniture manufacturing and metal working shop, a recording studio on the upper level, and the cafe which was located in the retail space on the main floor. After closing their doors, Brandon and his former partner then opened up a new cafe called Grindstone that is still around today under new ownership. He moved his recording studio to the upper level of the shop to continue to pursue his passion in music. After selling Grindstone about 12 years ago, Brandon was searching for a coffee that inspired him. He hopped from local coffee shop to coffee shop experiencing some of the finest coffees around Victoria.

A few years later, Brandon stumbled upon this humble little coffee shop on Yates Street. "I walked in there and it was awesome - it was the best coffee I had ever experienced in the city. I went out of

my way every day to go back. Even if I had to drive across town, that's where I was going to get my coffee. Kalen really knows his craft,10/10 times the Americano was absolute perfection."


In 2017, not long after relocating to a new shop on Pandora Street, Kalen was ready to move on and close Shatterbox's doors. Brandon and Linda were on their way to Thailand for her Master's Degree in civil engineering when they heard the news. Without hesitation, Brandon knew that they had to buy Shatterbox to keep its legacy and coffee alive alongside the continued help from Kalen to ensure they maintained the unique flavour of the coffee.


Brandon and Linda tried running the shop from overseas for the first year. This presented a unique set of challenges from changes in staff and management, to the changes on Pandora Street. "I came home in 2018 and overnight, Kalen, Richard, the staff, and myself loaded everything into a truck and moved it down to our new location at the Victoria Public Market." Brandon continued to stay for the next 6 months to set up shop. "Kalen came back on as a full time operations manager, we hired a chef to expand on our food offerings, and I developed a soup program. Once everything was settled, I headed back to meet Linda in Thailand."



Coffee Culture In The Time Of COVID


In early 2020, Linda and Brandon both had returned home. They ran the coffee shop on their own for the next seven months throughout the lockdowns. "We were fully open when everyone else was closed. We set up some socially distant tables, and expanded our hours. It became a place for the community to come and talk and have some sense of normalcy." Brandon added.

Durning the first year of the pandemic, Shatterbox increased their revenue by 40%. "Instead of ordering muffin mixes etc, we started making everything from scratch from the cakes, to the soups. Sometimes we were here until 1:00am baking and prepping food." Brandon added that the camaraderie and community aspect that 2020 brought out was amazing. "We ended up writing every regular's name down on a chalkboard in the back and now we know around 200 names by heart." Many times, patrons of Shatterbox who would purchase food or coffee would return moments later just to tell them how incredible everything tasted. "It really made the late nights we spent working in the kitchen that much more fulfilling."






Giving Back To The Community & Working With Our Place Society


Since taking over Shatterbox, Brandon and Linda have been working closely with Our Place Society, which was located directly across the street from them on Pandora. Our Place is a safe haven for the homeless.

"Even after moving to the Victoria Public Market, we still stay in communication with Our Place Society. We offer free food and coffee to those in need. This year we are the primary sponsor for the 'Our Place Society Fundraiser'."


Linda teared up as she spoke about a heart warming experience they had during the pandemic with a homeless man. "Because we were one of the only locations open during the pandemic, we had some people from the street coming in. Some of them would steal from us, and one day Brandon chased a man down the street who had taken something and he said to him 'Please give the item back. Don't steal from us, and if you want something, please just come in and ask.' This same man came back the next day and asked if he could have a coffee. He continued to do this for a few days and then one day he came in and put $10 on the counter and asked if he could buy a coffee. When I went to give him his change he said 'No no, I owe you.'"

People who know how Shatterbox is helping the homeless community have come in to leave donations to help pay it forward to the next person in need. "We have such an incredible community here in Victoria."


Sustainability to Shatterbox goes beyond the environment and economy, it is also about the people and community. Bringing these components together creates a symbiotic relationship between the environment and our diverse local community. "Sustainability does not happen if people don't care. You can do everything you can for the environment and for financial sustainability, but everything will fall apart if the community isn't taken care of." Brandon says.






The 'Tesla' Of Roasters


"Bellwether is the first of its kind, and we are the first coffee shop on Vancouver Island to have one."

In search of further reducing their carbon footprint, Shatterbox has recently invested in the Bellwether coffee roaster, a completely emission-free electric roaster.

"There's a lot of barriers when it comes to roasting. It is very complex, and it requires a lot of training. You need to have a master roaster." Brandon continues, "Regular roaster machines are expensive, large (requiring a lot more real estate), and they run on fossil fuels. They emit carbon and other emissions into the air, and you need proper ventilation and gas lines." Because they wanted to expand into roasting their own beans, Brandon found this emission-free roasting machine that he calls "the Tesla of all roasters." In the past, Brandon has seen smaller models that were designed for home use, but not for commercial use - until now. "Bellwether is the first of its kind, and we are the first coffee shop on Vancouver Island to have one. The innovative company based out of California wants to remove the barriers for people wanting to get into the roasting business, while doing it in a more sustainable fashion."



How This Electric Coffee Roaster Makes A Difference


"Coffee, being the #2 most consumed drink in North America, has a massive carbon footprint. We have to ship it from a foreign company, store containers of the green beans in large warehouses, and then put it into a fossil fuel roasting machine, pour it into non-compostable packaging, and in many cases ship it off again to another location. Bellwether's concept is to downsize the need for real estate, have zero emissions, and every little cafe can become their own roaster providing their customers with their own custom roasts and blends."


Bellwether Technology

The electric roaster is connected to an iPad that is displayed on the front of the machine. When the master roasters out of California develop different roasting profiles, they then upload them onto the cloud server that then gets added to each machine. Brandon explained the ability to create their own custom profiles, but he also loves the baseline roasts that they have provided.

"The temperature, time, etc, is all controlled by the machine through the preferences we choose on the iPad. If something is wrong with the roast, a message will come up alerting us to stop the roast."




It's All About The Bean & The Roast



Shatterbox has partnered with Level Ground, a company that fits with their ethics and values in terms of quality and sustainability.


"Level Ground works with progressive co-ops focused on coffee quality, environmental sustainability and fair income for farmers." - levelground.com


With help from Kalen and Level Ground's Master Roaster, they will continue to perfect their roasts.

"We use two types of beans in our Shatterbox espresso that has a high ranking score of 85-90." Kind of like wine scoring, coffee has its own values and scores. Coffee bean scores are based on how they are grown, the altitude and conditions they are grown in, as well as the end quality and taste of the coffee.


Carrying locally made products

"A lot of local products we carry come from inspiring stories." One company Brandon and Linda spoke highly of was Wize Tea, a company based in Tofino. The company started making tasty beverages using coffee leaves to help coffee farmers make more of a profit outside of the bean itself. This created a lightly caffeinated, refreshing beverage packed with antioxidants and nutrients. "When they told us about their story, we absolutely said yes to selling their product in our store."



The Big Spoon



Through the pandemic, Brandon and Linda started to expand their shop with the addition of a new soup company called 'The Big Spoon'.


"I used to have this philosophy that if I walked into a coffee shop and they had too many food options, I didn't trust that their coffee would be good." Brandon laughed and added it was a funny stigma that stuck with him. "I wanted to brand our soup business in a way that promoted the fact that we are really good at making soup. Honestly, I feel we are Victoria's premier soup company. None of our soups are frozen, we use fresh ingredients, and they are recipes designed by myself. We receive compliments on every single one of them and I couldn't be more proud!"

One of Shatterbox's patrons, Corey, mentioned to us that "the corn chowder is out of this world good!".



Behind The Brand


Big Spoon


The brand name is a cheeky name based on "spooning". The Big Spoon = the dominant soup company. To go with this witty brand name is their slogan "nobody should spoon alone, come spoon with us." - LOVE it!




Shatterbox


Shatterbox's branding to Linda and Brandon is about "Shattering the box - thinking outside of the box."







The Future Of Shatterbox Coffee Company


"Our goal is to be the disrupters of the roasting industry. We want to transform it. We need to move away from fossil fuels, and we need to become more sustainable and local."



"Our goal is to be the disrupters of the roasting industry. We want to transform it. We need to move away from fossil fuels, and we need to become more sustainable and local. The coffee culture in Victoria is huge. We want to grow our eco roasting business and start a local subscription service where people can order their own fresh custom roasts." Brandon and Linda are very passionate about educating the coffee community and hope to build a clientele that appreciates the higher end coffee experience.


Brandon and Linda are an incredibly inspiring team. Bringing sustainability to the community and environment, as well as shaking up the coffee industry one roast at a time. Currently, Shatterbox is seeking investors and shareholders to help in their efforts to create positive eco-friendly change in the industry.

Please click the link below for more information to find out how you can get involved.



Have you been to Shatterbox yet? let us know!


Click here if you would like to invest in Shatterbox's sustainability efforts


Click here to learn more about Level Ground


Follow Shatterbox on Instagram



Author: Kristina Kinzel

All photos by: Thomas Kinzel


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