Crème de la crème (French, literally ‘cream of the cream’) is an idiom meaning the “best of the best”, superlative, or “the very best”.
Crum Coffee Bar, 4640 Calgary Trail NW, Edmonton … On almost any given day I start the day at Crum. My order is simple: a large regular coffee, but I know that I will be getting a really great cup of coffee! Owned and operated by sisters, Christine and Mila Gossain, this cafe is a real gem.
These two, confident, young women, part of a close family, were encouraged to figure out what they wanted in life and then make it happen, before moving onto other relationships in life. Spending long hours honing their skills as baristas while working in their parent’s cafe prepared them to start their own coffee bar when the opportunity presented itself. “Crum”, a childhood nickname for Christine, was established on June 1, 2017. Wanting to do things their way, they sought out the highest quality of organic coffee products and bakery items to reflect their vision.
My discussion with Christine and Mila:
What is it about the cafe business that interested you?
Mila: With our Lebanese heritage it just seemed the right fit. We’ve visited our friends and family in the downtown cafes of Beirut (known for its rich cafe culture) and the Mediterranean where coffee is such an integral part of the social scene. This is a way of bringing that tradition back home.
Have you been taken seriously (respected) even though you are young women?
Christine: Yes, because we have been able to project confidence in our abilities as well as in the products we sell in the cafe. There are always some people who think they can offer advice on how we could better our business but for the most part, people respect what we are doing.
How do you plan to expand your business?
Mila: Because of the premium products that we sell (fresh baking, organic ingredients, Callebaut chocolate for our drinks) we have guaranteed repeat business. Word of mouth is the best advertising and social media…with Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. People see our posts and forward them to their friends, who forward them to their friends… It has really helped grow our business.
What’s important in your ‘day to day’ running of the business?
Christine: Being here six days a week, because when people walk through the door, they are expecting (hoping) to see us. Making sure the coffee bar is inviting and clean as well as providing quality coffee drinks, freshly baked (frozen dough from France and Belgium) and local vegan products that have really been a hit with the patrons.
Where do you look for inspiration to keep cafe current?
Mila: By travelling and visiting independent coffee bars. Relaxed, away from home, and sampling all kinds of coffee drinks often sparks the imagination, giving way to new possibilities.
What are your plans for the future?
Mila/Christine: The response from the business community has been overwhelming. We have been approached by developers to open new cafes, and others wondering if we would consider franchising our concept, possibly collaborating with a side by side business with juice bars or gyms. We have been heartened by the response from our customers (who we love, and we think they love us back) and their positive feedback of the fresh, modern look of the cafe. Many have assumed we are part of an American chain! But for now, we are content to keep things simple and savour our first encounter in the business world.
These are the beautiful Gossain sisters...Mila (left) and Christine (right).
*** I have a hunch based on the laughing and joking I hear when the firemen come in, that they are here for more than their caffeine fix!
From my experiences in Crum Coffee Bar, I can say Christine and Mila have been successful in ‘living their dream’. I feel like I’m in a cafe version of “The Breakfast Club” with all the regulars showing up every day, about the same time, and sitting at their regular tables. We are all addressed by name, and our orders are half made before we even say what it is we want! We know we are all welcome here. The cafe is noticeably busier week after week, and the buzz of laughter and spirited conversation is music to my ears. Speaking of music…their playlists are amazing, a mix of old standards and rock classics as well as new popular music.
*** Today’s post is the first of a series on “Women in Business” that I hope to do over the next coming months. Having had my own business for many years, I know the dedication, hard work, challenges, and, of course, the rewards of doing things “your way”.