Thom Hiebert and Graham Bargen grin broadly when talking about the subtleties of making coffee.
"The reasons people love wine, the whole process... it’s the same with coffee," says Bargen, 26.
"We could get crazy, nerding out on this kind of stuff," adds Hiebert, 27.
Thom Bargen, at 64 Sherbrook St., is Winnipeg’s newest specialty coffee shop when it opens Feb. 1. Although there’s no shortage of places to buy coffee, Hiebert and Bargen say there’s a lack of shops focusing primarily on serving fresh coffee.
For them, "fresh" means the beans are brewed within three weeks of being roasted.
"I’d say the benchmark shop in town is Parlour (Coffee)," said Hiebert. "Before Parlour, you actually couldn’t get a fresh cup of coffee."
In early 2012, Hiebert and Bargen had a deal to lease space in a nearby condo development, but that fell through. Desperate, they biked around knocking on doors. At the time, the building at 64 Sherbrook was being renovated. The contractor directed them to the landlord, who leased them the space.
"It was the worst morning… but by the evening, we were singing," Bargen recalls.
Of course, the real work had just begun. As part of the deal, Hiebert and Bargen agreed to complete interior renovations at their own expense.
Hiebert’s construction experience and Bargen’s interest in interior design enabled them to do much of the work themselves. They’ve been working long hours for several months. Adding to the pressure was the fact Bargen’s wife gave birth three months ago.
"One of the main driving factors was just the lifestyle this brings," Hiebert says.
"When I worked at my corporate job, this drove me, the idea of waking up, biking here, sweeping off the lock, saying ‘Hi’ to my espresso," Bargen says.
The sound of sewing machines behind the sliding barn door at the back of Thom Bargen might confuse customers. But it’s just Brendon Friesen and Nate Bezoplenko of Wilder Dry Goods, making backpacks and other canvas and leather items.
Friesen says sharing space benefits both businesses.
"This coffee shop is a destination space, and it’s so accessible. You can just hop up these stairs and take a look around," he said.
The space resembles a warehouse art gallery. But, instead of art, every month the Thom Bargen wall will display new bikes from local bike shops.
In addition to hot beverages, the shop will offer a constantly changing menu of baked items from Jonnie’s Sticky Buns.
Cameron MacLean is a community correspondent for Wolseley. You can contact him at email@example.com.