Grounds for Coffee to celebrate 30th anniversary with a sweet deal
If you’ve got a sweet tooth and live in Vancouver, chances are you’ve either tasted or heard of Grounds for Coffee’s signature cinnamon buns.
The buns themselves need no introduction, as Grounds has been serving up its famous local treats for a whopping three decades this May.
To celebrate, the bakery — which operates two Vancouver locations on Alma Street and Commercial Drive — will be giving folks a sugary deal worth taking note of.
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In addition to spreading the word about that, we connected with Grounds for Coffee founder and president, Dan Hilton, to look back on the last 30 years and mark this milestone.
What inspired you to start a bakery?
We began as a simple café in 1993. Baking followed but it was an evolutionary process and it began by trial and error. Feedback from our regular customers played a huge part of the process.
How has your bakery evolved over the last 30 years?
First came the cinnamon bun, followed by muffins and cookies. For many years, that was all we offered. Today we provide a much broader selection of freshly baked items that we prepare on-site. We now also offer vegan and gluten-friendly products. Savoury items were introduced in the last decade and have been very well received. Our vegan cheese bun can be challenging to keep stocked and our in-house pizza slices are some of our top-selling lunch items.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced as a bakery owner, and how have you overcome them?
We have responded to numerous challenges over the years; 2007 was a time when many Vancouver cafes and restaurants started closing for lunch because they could not find staff. That was a difficult period and, while we never closed for lunch, we were forced to open a bit later, close a bit earlier, and rethink our processes. We adapted and we survived, but many did not.
By 2008, the cost of flour was up 150% vs 2007 and that wasn’t very fun. Coping with COVID-19 was challenging but the inflationary period that followed COVID-19, the period we are in right now, has to be the most difficult challenge we have yet faced. Pretty much everything is substantially more expensive and many supplies can be difficult to source. For example, paper cups were in short supply last year. When we could get them, price jumps were steep and cup quality was inconsistent. It’s difficult to run a café without cups and the challenge wasn’t limited to just cups.
What do you think sets your bakery apart from others in the area?
We are unique because we are not a traditional bakery. As such, we can be a bit difficult to define. Many times, I have heard us referred to as a “cinnamon bun bakery” but we are so much more than that. We create from the heart and we strive to meet the needs of our clientele. It’s also important to remember that we began as a café and our café culture is an essential component of who we are. One will not survive on Commercial Drive if one is not committed to coffee. We are now in our fourth year on The Drive and it feels like home.
What is your most popular item, and why do you think it’s so popular?
On a per item basis, our cinnamon bun is still our most popular product. The quality of what goes into creating the bun has a huge impact on the quality of the finished product. I also believe there is an intangible element in our cinnamon bun. It’s comfort food and I put it right beside music in its power to transport us to a happy place. If you group specialty coffee drinks into a single category, then it becomes obvious that we are very much a café and coffee becomes our top product. It’s often overlooked by the media when we are reviewed but, after all, we are Grounds for Coffee and the coffee came first.
How has the community supported your bakery over the years?
Community assistance is responsible for the creation of our first baked product and our sense of community involvement remains strong. When the recipe for our cinnamon bun was being developed, we relied on customer feedback throughout that phase and many took the task to heart. We involved customers in the process and they became our official daily taste testers. Without community support, our cinnamon bun would not be what it is today. That support has never been forgotten and we have been giving back to our community ever since.
What are some of the proudest moments you’ve had as a bakery owner?
There have been many. Making it to 30 years is a big one! Opening our second store was pretty cool. On our 25th birthday, we were introduced to many couples who would not have met without Grounds and children who were born because their parents met at Grounds. That was such a powerful experience and I can relate because my family exists because of Grounds. My wife and I would not know each other without Grounds (and my sister-in-law Laura) so we too are thankful. One couple even showed us their Grounds for Coffee tattoos. Now that’s love and respect!
Is there anything you would like to say to your customers who have supported you over the last 30 years?
Wow, there is so much to be said. We are so grateful and thankful for their support! Not just now, but for every day over the last 30 years. There are so many great memories and they were all created by people who chose to support us. It’s an incredible honour and it’s extremely humbling to know that Grounds would not exist if not for them.
The Anniversary Deal
To celebrate its anniversary, Grounds for Coffee will be offering a sweet deal for patrons.
Grounds will have a buy-one-get-one FREE promo on its famous cinnamon buns at both its Alma and Commercial Drive locations on May 10, 2023.
Please note this BOGO deal means one bun per customer and sprinkles are not included.
Be sure to mark your calendars and get in on this celebration next month!
Grounds for Coffee
Address: 2565 Alma Street, Vancouver
Address: 2088 Commercial Drive, Vancouver