What I enjoy the most of writing about coffee shops is getting to know the people behind the bar. Last Friday, I had the pleasure of meeting Max Vezina, owner of the smallest coffee shop in Montreal, La Distributrice. With some great tunes playing in the back, I sat inside his very small, yet charming space, and interviewed him over a latte.
How did you get into the coffee business?
I started in Australia, I traveled there for a year and that’s where I got my first barista job; Then I started working here and after six months my bosses told me they wanted to sell, so I bought the place back in June.
What do you think sets La Distributrice apart from other cafés?
Well, it’s pretty obvious… It’s the smallest café in North America! We only do take-out and we only do one size. I would guess that would be the thing that sets us apart the most, but also everything is sourced, direct trade and good quality.
Does your coffee choice changes seasonally, or do you have an all-time favorite?
We only use Punch Buggy for now, so that’s a blend that changes seasonally because they go and deal directly with the farmers in each country they source from; and depending on the season the coffee will come from either Brazil, Nicaragua, Ethiopia etc. Other than that sometimes we do single origin tryouts so that people can taste different things.
Personally, what would be your favorite coffee?
I love my lattes, espresso is great also!
I’ve come to notice that most coffee lovers have a morning routine. Do you have one?
Yes, I do! My first coffee of the day is always a soy latte because I’ve got stomach problems (laughs) so a double espresso would be a little tough on it. Then I basically just open the shop; go out with my coffee; sit on the bench and wait for the first customer to arrive…and the day begins!
Describe LaDistributrice in one sentence.
It’s the smallest café in North America. It’s re-inventing the take-out coffee.
Do you have a funny/ interesting customer story?
(This was a tough one for him)
Oh my God! I have too many (laughs) you get some pretty interesting personalities here on The Plateau. I’ll have to think about that …
What is one thing your customers should know about you?
I feel the thing most customers don’t realize is that we do accept cards, a lot of people assume that because of the size we don’t. That’s probably the one thing I would like customers to know.
Also, we only do doubles; I don’t think most of my customers realize that. We are probably the best option quality / price wise in all of Montreal.
Do you have any exciting plans for the future?
I would love to expand and open new cafés. I am probably going to do some re-branding and would love to have a bit of Wes Anderson (Director of The Grand Budapest Hotel) vibe; with pastel colors, funky and quirky.
And open a terrace where the bench is right now… I would take the bench away and make a vine roof with flowers and a little table underneath.
So… any customer stories? (I wasn’t giving up on this one, so I asked if a customer had asked him out on a date)
Actually yes! There was this one girl who came by and she told me she used to work here ten years ago when the place was a sushi shop. We talked a bit about it and then she left. Five minutes later she came back and said: “I’m sure you get this all the time but can I give you my phone number”, and I was like that never happens (laughs) but yeah I did go on a date with her, we went karaoke.
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