#102 Storm City Coffee

Yoko, baker and store manager at Storm City Coffee

“In 2021, there is a lot of work ahead. It is easy to look at the big job ahead of us and get discouraged. We need to focus on lots of other good and new things coming out of the pandemic. Keep going, keep serving the community, and keep providing food and drinks when we can.”

Yoko is a single mom to 2 teenage boys, a baker, and the heart & soul of Storm City Coffee. Storm City Coffee opened in the heart of Kitsilano in 2017. If you are looking for good quality coffee and wholesome fresh-made treats (did we say cream puffs!?), look no further. This place offers not only excellent food and drinks, but also a great community ambience.

Yoko`s love for baking started when, as a child, she received a countertop electric oven as a Christmas gift from her mother, who surprisingly was not a baker at all! Yoko saved money to buy cook books and took on baking projects every weekend. 

Yoko(Y): “So many cookies and cakes came out of that little oven! I have never stopped baking since then. After finishing the pastry art course at Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (PICA), I started working at Sweet Obsession, still one of the longest running dessert/bakery places in Vancouver, where I learned everything from making puff pastry to decorating wedding cakes. After moving to Seattle and working for a few bakeries, I started my own baking/catering business which gave me the opportunity to be a part of a wonderful market community. I based my business on a farmer’s market and from there made connections to do catering gigs such as office parties and pop-up bakeries. I met some of the most interesting people I know from the market.”

After relocating back to Vancouver 3 years ago, she landed an opportunity to open Storm City Coffee with an investor from Japan.

VOICE (V): “What is it about baking that you like so much?”

Y: “Baking is like magic. I know it’s science but it’s also magic. I still remember the amazement that I felt when I first started baking at age 6. When you mix flour, butter, sugar and eggs, it somehow comes out as the most delicious thing you’ve ever eaten! It was like a dream that I could mix things and actually make something so yummy and also make my family happy – Wow! Even now, I bake at least 3 times a week at home. There is always room to grow as a baker and every time I bake something great, I go back to that feeling of satisfaction I had as a 6 year-old. I also like feeding people and sharing my food. That’s my passion. Food and sharing food. I wake up and go to sleep thinking about food.”

V: “Tell us about your famous cream puffs!”

Y: “My cream puffs are a classic French recipe with my original twists. I try to stay simple and I always use high quality ingredients. It’s all about balance of each component put together. 
I do 2 flavors at a time. One is always vanilla and the other one is a different feature flavor every Friday. We call it #creampufffriday!”

V: “ How is Storm City Coffee different from other coffee shops?”

Y: “ I think it`s the food. The food is made in-house, and we put so much love and care into everything we make. Our coffee is from Timbertrain and we put a lot of passion into our coffees too.  We make mocha with house made ganache, make all of our syrups in-house, and try to make as many things as we can on our own.  This makes a HUGE difference to taste. It does take more time and cost more in labour, but we believe it`s worth it.”

V: “How did Covid-19 affect your business?”

Y: “This whole time with the crazy pandemic, we didn`t close at all. We had no idea what was going to happen, but we focused on bringing food and warm drinks to the community. That was our thing. Since a lot of our staff chose to stay home, I was left with only 2 staff members. We were extremely busy during the shutdown with delivery orders, but we kept going. “

The pandemic presented a lot of uncertainty and confusion, but nothing made her more proud of their team than when they received heartful messages and words of appreciations from their customers.

Y:  “Our customers started telling us how happy and appreciative they were that we were open. They told us how they didn’t have a day to day thing anymore, but could still come to us. We became a big part of their daily routine. That kept us going.”

Last year, Yoko`s focus was primarily on survival of the business. She now wants to take this year as an opportunity to do something new and give back to the community. On January 7th, 2021, Storm City Coffee started their “Pay It Forward Program”. The program involves buying a bowl of soup for yourself and donating money to buy another bowl of soup for a friend in need. All proceeds go towards food security programs for youth and young mothers in Metro Vancouver. They plan to do the same buy one, give one program with coffee.

Y: “ I am so grateful for my job and being able to be open last year. That`s why I want to have a clear social purpose as a business and give back to the community this year. Our Pay It Forward Program is a part of that. I also want to focus on helping fellow female business owners, and slowly building this place as a community hub for local businesses and artists.”

Storm City Coffee offers clean indoor seating, laptop friendly tables, and an outside patio when the sun is out! They have great coffee, fresh baked goodness and one big heart ready for you!

Yoko’s Favorite: Biscuit Sandwich (the most popular item in the cafe!), Avocado Toast, and yesss, Cream Puffs! Go early on Friday before they run out!

Delivery through Doordash and Skip the Dishes available.

VOICE Community: Hoochy Booch Kombucha, Sriracha Revolver Hot Sauce.