Richmond pour over coffee shop closes after eight years

Richmond pour over coffee shop closes after eight years

A place where people were brought together through coffee.

A pour-over coffee shop in Richmond is closing after eight years, but its owner said he’s “made peace” with the closure.

Vincent Wong, owner and barista of Faebrew, said he’s had a good run with his Richmond coffee bar, which officially closes on Wednesday, Jan. 31.

Faebrew is a 10-seat specialty, pour-over coffee shop that parallels the idea of a “fairy’s brew” whereby coffee is a medium to bring people together.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic taking away three years from everyone, including his business, owning a small business in Richmond has been “insightful and a huge learning opportunity,” explained the Steveston resident.

“The best is how I’m able to show other people that a different (coffee) concept works,” he said, adding Canada “needed something new” when it came to coffee service experiences from overseas.

Aside from a business perspective, Wong said the “truly best part” of his shop was building a strong community of people from all walks of life.

Wong told the Richmond News he saw people meeting each other for the first time at Faebrew and starting businesses together, and he watched couples on their first date there and started dating afterwards.

“I wanted to show people that I can use a bar counter service to bring different kinds of people together,” said Wong.

“Seeing people find their potential and grow, whether personally or in business, is something I’m privileged to have watched these eight years.”

When asked what has been the most frustrating part of running Faebrew, Wong said it’s been comments on the price of his coffee.

Faebrew offered pour-over coffee, tailored-made by Wong to each customer’s taste, for $15 a cup and $10 for a tea.

While Wong understands that his coffee is at a higher price point than the average coffee shop, he reiterated there are reasons behind the high costs of his slow bar, pour-over style shop environment.

“Coffee is a commodity that I find is undervalued in North America, especially in Canada. It is also a form of art.”

The high taxes, low income and high rent here in Canada “just doesn’t help at all either,” he added.

Wong said he attributes his high prices to land and labour costs and the time it takes to make a cup of coffee to a person’s taste.

“If the business model was meant to be slow, the prices need to be high,” he said.

When asked what the economy is like for small business owners, Wong described it as difficult and not doing well, especially for small businesses that battled through COVID-19

Furthermore, the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loans are going to stress businesses, he explained.

CEBA provided loans of up to $60,000 to help nearly 900,000 small businesses in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Loan holders who can repay their balance of the loan on or before the deadline can get a loan forgiveness of up to 33 per cent (up to $20,000).

“The CEBA (loan program) alone is going to absolutely destroy a lot of people,” he said.

While Wong hopes to see small businesses grow, he hopes those in Richmond can “hold out for a little longer” with “commercial real estate appearing to slow down.”

When asked what his next steps are after the closure of Faebrew, Wong said he will focus solely on his roasting business, Tales Coffee, which has been running concurrently during Faebrew’s operation.

“I will look to continue to push the cheapest, highest quality beans out there so that we can help a lot of businesses save money so, in turn, they can make more money.”

He plans to move his coffee roasting operations to the U.S., citing cheaper rent and shipping costs.

“It’s been fun and the end of an era. When you make peace with something, you’re just ready to move on.”

-with files from Daisy Xiong, Business in Vancouver

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