VOICE 142 - Annette Kim, owner of NOMAD Coffee
"The NOMAD mission statement is `Challenge Today. Change Tomorrow.` Everybody has to experience a little bit of inconvenience by bringing their own cup. That may be a challenge for them. Zero Waste requires so many challenges today but everything in the future will be better. Little changes make bigger changes for a better world."
NOMAD COFFEE is one of the newest coffee shops that opened at 1415 Bewicke Ave, North Vancouver, on May 13th. It is the city`s first “No Single-use Cup" coffee shop, and it strives to revolutionize the cafe industry by aiming to become a "Zero Waste" coffee shop in the future. This comes as no surprise if you know Annette and if you have been to one of her coffee shops.
Annette started a coffee business in 2015. Under the 'bean around the world' brand, she opened Bean VGH at Vancouver General Hospital. Then comes a second location, "Bean-on-5th", at 506 Chesterfield Ave. in Lower Lonsdale in 2019. It was the latter that her support for the community and environmental sustainability started to shine. Not only did she transform a desolated corner on Chesterfield Ave. and 5th Street into a lovely community gathering place, but also, over 3 years, this location has reduced its landfill waste by 95%.
With her third location, NOMAD COFFEE, Annette is set out to challenge the way we consume coffee and baked goods by implementing the "No Single-use Cup" policy. When you visit the coffee shop, you will realize many other thoughtful practices are designed to support her zero-waste effort. We chatted with Annette, the busy and inspirational force behind the sustainable coffee business, and asked about her coffee journey and love for the community. After minutes of chatting up with her, there is no way you won't love her and her coffee shop.
VOICE(V): How did the idea of opening a “No Single-use Cup" coffee shop develop?
Annette(A): "This idea started to develop during the pandemic. While Bean-on-5th has been a success, it is very small in terms of space to do everything that I wanted to do. Also, my grandson is a pandemic baby. He was born in 2020. I wanted to do something good for the community and the next generation. I want my grandson to live in a healthy environment like how I used to grow up."
V: Have you always been passionate about the 'Zero Waste' initiative?
A: "Honestly I wasn't this much aware in the past, but I started to notice how much garbage was generated by running a coffee shop. Coffee is something everybody drinks every day, and we can start eliminating coffee cup waste with a very simple solution - B.Y.O.C. That means Bring Your Own Cup! I never heard of any other coffee shop doing single-use plastic free in Vancouver, so implementation and preparation were a big challenge for me. Upon opening, I was very anxious in the first days about the reaction from my community. I am very proud to see that no complaint has been heard, and everyone in the community is happy to bring their own mugs or use reusable cups. We saved 3,689 cups for one month from the opening!
I am a very community-motivated person and very much a family person. When my father passed away, I was still young yet being the oldest sister in the family, I always took good care of my younger siblings. I even enjoyed taking care of 8 of my nieces and nephews. I think this kind of thing has developed into my community love. I want to create a great relationship with the community and people. I love to see people sitting in my coffee shop, and chatting up a great conversation with a nice cup of coffee."
V: How does "No Single-use Cup" work?
A: "Instead of single-use cups, customers are encouraged to bring their cup or buy one of the reusable and to-go cups for sale. You can also rent a Mason jar for a $2 deposit (refunded when you bring it back). I am super happy to see everybody brings back their cups or their own favorite cups. I think they feel good about themselves too.
Also, there are multiple practices put in place to become a more environmentally sustainable place. There is a customer rinsing station where you can clean your cup, we issue electronic receipts only, and there are recycle bins."
V: What else is special about NOMAD COFFEE in terms of menu and service?
A: "During the pandemic, when people needed companions, we saw a lot of customers coming with their dogs and sharing our baked goods with the pets. So we created dog scones at NOMAD. A choice of Blueberry Scone and Peanut Butter Scone is available and they are sugar-free for dogs and also human-grade! 90% of our baked goods are made in-house.
Also, there is a Digital NOMAD area in the back of the coffee shop with USB plug-ins. I designed this area so that single working people can come out, work in our coffee shop, and see other people. For digital nomads, you can work anywhere online, right? I intentionally put a smaller speaker for music in this area so it will be quieter and people can focus on their work.”
V: What does NOMAD mean to you?
A: "I consider myself a free-spirited person. Nomads travel light and have a minimal mindset and possession, yet they consume experiences. This is my kind of word.”
V: Being the owner of 3 locations, how do you manage your time?
A: "I am short staffed but I have great staff. I am lucky to have a lot of support from many people. That is my motivation to go further.I couldn't do it without my team. Also my team believes in value of 'Challenge Today Change Tomorrow’."
V: How do you enjoy your free time, if you manage to have some?
A: "I love walking in the woods and trail running. It is much like meditation before I start a busy day. One morning when my husband woke up at 7 am, he googled me to locate my whereabouts, and I was up in the mountain by myself. I enjoy what I can do now and life gives you only a short time to do that. I want to utilize my time by spending quality time with my husband, and my family, and focusing on my health and inner peace.”