If you would have told us earlier this year that we’d be back in the coffee business in the future, let alone this year, we definitely would have laughed it off as a funny joke. Owning a coffee shop again, wasn’t on our radar.
Then, had you told us that it would be the exact same coffee shop we had sold 5 years ago, we would have thought you were crazy. Who’s calling who crazy though right?;)
To those who know us personally, it’s no surprise that we are entrepreneurs, business minded, and love an adventure. We dream big dreams, take big risks, and typically jump in with both feet at opportunities that come our way.
They say that opposites attract and Dion and I are certainly opposite in many ways but one thing that has unified us in the best way over the years is our mutual love for adventure that usually involves a financial risk. We both have always been of the mindset that financial gain usually starts with a risky move. Whats the worst that can happen; really? Its just money afterall;)
And so the story of our coffee adventure began…
Caffe Amantes 2008-2013
In the Fall of 2007, friends of ours had their coffee shop for sale. It was a well established and popular place with a fun Italian vibe to it.
We were 10 years younger, and way less established but Dion was excited about the adventure of owning a business so we went to the bank, begged for a loan, and amazingly enough, they went for it;)
So there we found ourselves – Business Owners – A cute little coffee shop, the 2 of us running it with absolutely no business training. Neither of us had gone to school for a business degree, we barely knew how to make a good cup of coffee, we had 3 young kids and I was just starting my real estate career.
We jumped in – full in – and for 5 years served coffee with smiles, met some of the most amazing customers; some that turned into friends, (some that felt more like family) made connections with local business people in the area, enjoyed amazing staff, watching them grow up, leave for college, come back in the summer, and leave again.
We TRULY loved that little shop that most of us nicknamed “Amantes”.
It was a bustling little coffee corner from the time we purchased it right until the day we handed over the keys. I’m not sure we could pinpoint the exact reason why we sold our little shop in 2013 except to say that we felt like that season had come to an end, and we were ready to explore other options.
Looking back, we didn’t have any regrets of selling our little coffee biz, but we certainly missed the business, the customers and definitely the creative aspect of business ownership.
Being a firm believer in timing, and God’s plan for our life, I know that at that point in our lives, it was the right thing to do, and there were other things to accomplish that wouldn’t have been possible had we not let go of the business when we did.
In the meantime
After we sold the coffee shop, Dion went back to his job at “The Mill”, the cedar sawmill that is, I carried on with real estate, we sold a house, bought a house, went on a few trips, got even more involved in our church and grew a strong community around us. We even had another baby!
I’d call it a season of digging deeper into our goals, and learning a lot about ourselves. It had some ups and downs for sure as we worked through “life”.
Dion missed owning a business and was always on the look out for opportunities. At one point (before we decided to have another baby) we were strongly considering getting back into the coffee business but from another angle. We were going to get into the roasting side of the business. For months we dreamt up ideas, names, researched coffee roasters and beans, and all the aspects that go with it.
In early 2016 we found a fantastic roaster for sale and Dion drove 12 hours to pick it up. We were excited! It was going to start as a bit of a hobby but we had some fun plans on making it more than that.
That coffee roaster still sits in our garage and who knows…we might still get to utilize it after all, or maybe we will sell it, or use it as a really nice expensive decorative piece in the coffee shop LOL….time will tell.
The Story behind “The Mill Coffee”
It was the middle of June 2018, Dion was as he always did, casually looking at businesses for sale online. The old coffee shop had been on the market once again for awhile but as I mentioned before, owning a coffee shop wasn’t on our radar.
We had joked a few times about buying our old shop back but it was really just light conversation and neither of us really meant it. In the past year or so Dion had still been working for the sawmill and also assisting me in real estate while helping with the new baby.
He had been so fortunate to work for a job that allowed him to be flexible with his hours so that I could continue real estate when baby Mila was born. He was back to work at the mill fulltime but business and entrepreneurship were still his passion.
Also a passion that had been growing more over the past few years was cooking for friends and family, and being creative in the kitchen.
Friends and Family had grown to love Dion’s big holiday dinners, along with plenty of other meals throughout the year. He really enjoys, and is good at cooking and making sure everyone is fed and satisfied. Its neat looking back now to see how the 5 year hiatus and the time at home when baby Mila came along helped prime Dion for the new adventure that was coming.
So, back to the casual business search online. To make a long story short, the old coffee shop jumped out at him and this time the opportunity was something that we couldn’t resist. We went back and forth for a few days but there wasn’t a lot of time for discussion.
In typical Dion and Karin fashion, we decided to take a leap of faith and atleast go and see the old shop. It was weird walking through those doors again…it felt similar but was also very different. The current owner had done some of the renovations that we had always wanted to do before. The space was larger, and there was now a full kitchen (something we had always dreamed of having).
I remember us looking at each other, both reading exactly what the other was thinking. We were freaking out inside but also super excited. We told the Realtor that we were in, and we wanted it.
Then, the disappointing part happened. We found out that just that afternoon someone else had offered on it and the owner had accepted their offer. It wasn’t a final sale yet but too late for us to offer on it and we would have to wait a week to see if the sale went through.
We were half disappointed and half relieved all at once. If anything, it had opened up the conversation for looking more serious into a business again. We talked lots about it that week meanwhile inside we were pretty disappointed. I knew though that I needed to let it go, and if it was for us, it would come back to us.
Well, one week later we got the phone call. The other party had backed out. It was ours again if we wanted it….did we want it? Yikes! Now it was real again, and to be honest we were freaking out again. But, once again, in typical Dion and Karin fashion….we did it! We bought back our old coffee shop! Exactly 5 years later.
New name, same space
We decided to take this opportunity to give this coffee shop a fresh lease on life. We decided to change the name, update the space and make it our own and hit the restart button on this fantastic location in the heart of Comox, B.C.
Friends and family worked tirelessly for 2 very short but very long weeks and we managed to open our doors on July 11,2018.
Introducing: The Mill Coffee
Logo designed by the lovely Alvina Grace
Tables and Bar built by our wonderful friend and pastor Evan Allnutt
We knew we wanted the space to be friendly for the little ones especially since we have a toddler ourselves. Our friend Jacklyn Szabo helped us design a space and Planet Kids sponsored our space providing us with an assortment of toys and books so parents can enjoy coffee while their kiddos play. Also a big thank you to Re-Play Recycled for providing us with dishes and cups to serve the little ones their fun eats and treats.
We are SUPER thrilled to partner with Phil and Sebastian coffee roasters. They came highly recommended by various people in the coffee world and the reviews, results, and partnership have been so positive!
And the best part of it all, Dion is back in his sweet spot, his happy place, his creative corner
The heart of Comox
We LOVE Comox, we love the people, the demographic, the Harbour, beaches, shopping and more! and we want to bring positive collaboration among our fellow businesses. We are of the mindset that the more, the merrier. There’s plenty of business to go around and we all bring a unique atmosphere and experience for a variety of individuals.
Whether, you’re looking for an exquisite dining experience | Martine’s Bistro | Quality toys and children’s clothing | Planet Kids | Your favourite read | Nearly New Books | A fun new outfit | Mercedes Lane | , or a great cup of coffee. These are just a few of the many ways to enjoy this quaint little town.
We can’t wait to serve you and earn your business. We are a coffee shop first but have a variety of snacks and light lunch options including paninis, sandwiches, sausage rolls, and off course Dions famous Caesar salad! We will continue to grow and change our menu as we go and I bet you’ll see some of Dions other specialities show up as specials from time to time!
The space at the Mill is roomy enough for a big group of friends, a meeting, club or private gathering. We’re also open until 9 on weekdays!
We plan to host live acoustic nights monthly and a variety of other special events. Follow us on Instagram so you can stay up to date!
See you soon!!
Photography by our dear friend Bernine Marie