Friday, 18 May 2012

SHOW REVIEW #2 Buckhorn..for the 31st time!

In the beginning...there was Buckhorn.

31 years strong in Buckhorn Ontario and coincidentally this is our 31st trek through Felon Falls, Bob Caygen,, past the Big Buck to the Timber Wolf  lodge

15 years ago The Wandering Bean was all about 'BEANS'

VANILLA BEANS were made into extract, bottled and sold in little bottles, 2 beans in an empty bottle and the recipe tied to the top. Vanilla sugar was a best seller. The sweet smell of the sampler

COCOA BEANS (chocolate!) was bought in blocks i could hardly carry and we learned to temper on a marble slab. thermometer in hand we produced brittles and covered ginger, nuts and spoons

COFFEE BEANS. Initially we covered them in white and dark chocolate and sold them in 1/2lb bags as part of gift baskets

oh the gift baskets

it was the best of times and the worst of times. i had a wee obsession with auctions and believed i could strap vanilla sugar to anything and sell it

i sold a whole school's worth of vintage textbooks.once i sold a ratty silver hairbrush, a British 'fairing', many Pyrex bowls, hundreds of tea cups, hatboxes, eggcups, anything that was in that 50cent box no one else wanted i could make into a basket

just last weekend at the Milton Craft Show two ladies admitted they still have not not unwrapped their baskets because they love the way they look on the counter. they wanted to know why i stopped making them. i stopped over 10 years ago 

we knew nothing about coffee back then although I did know how to make a great espresso since i had done a few summers on the patio at Diplomatico in Little Italy. so we found a small second hand Brasilia pour-over espresso machine. the smallest of commercial machines and asked our first show if we could sell coffee

our very first "YES, WE'D LOVE YOU TO SELL COFFEE!!" was from the Buckhorn Community Centre. they had a onsite lunch room but they saw that what we'd be providing would be different. not every show understands that we don't take away from the other food service

specialty coffee is a category all on it's own. no one chooses chip truck coffee. drinking it is an act of desperation. sometimes they substitute tea or hot chocolate and some times still they submit to the small white styrofoam cup, praying for an exception to the rule. the next year they remember to drop by Timmies on the way  

it takes us time to change that habit but as our trash fills with Second Cup cups, customers take a chance on a second cup from us. they begin to realize they don't need to search for the nearest Starbucks on the way home and year by year the other cups in our garbage decrease. nice :)

So was born The Wandering Bean Coffee Co. 

15 seasons ago Buckhorn Craft Show took a chance on us. we gave away free chocolate covered spoons with every cappuccino. the lines were very long and very patient as we chugged away on our little machine. each spring and each fall we trek up north and that makes this the 31st show we've done in the little hut. trilliums in the forest and hopefully no rain

UPDATE: great times up north, as always

Wednesday, 18 April 2012


yes. they are real.
EXTRACTS, FLAVOURS and SYRUPS can all be real!
when we started out we made some interesting products to sell along side our coffee. i can't even remember the theme. something about beans. coffee, vanilla, cocoa. who know what we were thinking but one of the first things we produced was vanilla extract. it may have just been an excuse to cross the border for cheap booze. that was the reason we made many decisions back then

8oz vodka, brandy or alcool per vanilla bean and TIME! 

this (sniff sniff) was our first batch. circa 1998  

 commercial extracts are made with propylene glycol or ethyl alcohol which on their own are very dangerous but in theory they burn off when baking and therefore none is consumed. WHA!!? What about the old fashioned vanilla milkshake, the no bake macaroon or maybe you just take a swig every once in a while? use vodka or alcool! even brandy to add flavour
it's really really easy
but if you still want a vat of chemicals or need to dispose of a body under the guise of Christmas baking online ordering is easy at

place bean on the cutting board and grab a very sharp knife
flatten bean out and slice lengthwise with the tip.
 hold one end with your fingertips and pull the knife. 
it takes some practice but you can't really screw it up so don't worry 
flatten out each side with the blade of the knife as you scrape and pull all the seeds to one end  
chop the pod up too, it has tons of flavour as well
add to your vodka, brandy or alcool. cover and store in a cool dry place out of the sunlight for up to forever but at least 4 weeks to get some flavour in your extract

Saturday, 7 April 2012


 I think about bacon drizzled with maple syrup and a black coffee on the side as one of the best flavour combinations so why not try and put them all in one cup?

Not like this mind you 
puttingweirdthingsincoffee blog makes me laugh and he's never quite wrong but I did it  
more like this...

Start with 1lb of fresh roasted
 Ethiopian coffee

lay out the beans out on cheesecloth
make sure they are in a single layer 

COLD SMOKE for 1hr 20 minutes, vent open  
smoke away   
let beans cool
grind, brew and sip 
add maple syrup to sweeten
 wandering bean POP-UP will be sampling at our next event. Keep an eye our for the Woodie
Sale $399.99
Reg. $499.99 / Save 20%

Tuesday, 3 April 2012


   we were topless again!
first time was Queen West Art Crawl
but no one cared
we said it was our environmental initiative to 
reduce waste
really we just forgot to pack the lids.
but in small town Ontario 
they don't like it when you're topless
people tuned away in horror
we only forgot the large so everyone downsized to medium 
it was like saying goodbye to $1 with every cappuccino 
it hurt our bottom line.

but these things happen and you can't let it get you down
we forgot our tent joints once
hate to admit this but the solution was to purchase a 
new tent form Costco 
return it on Monday.
we forgot the tamp a few times 
used the bottom of a stainless espresso tumbler.
forgot the decaf beans a million times. 
sorry no decaf.
forgot medium cups so we just filled the large ones up 3/4 of the way.
often forget the mashmellows. 
who cares. have whipcream
you get the idea

There really was a topless coffee shop though,  

Friday, 30 March 2012

EVENT REVIEW #1 Mmmmm Agri-Tourism!

do you enjoy day-trips to the country?
do you like outdoor learning experiences?
do you pick-your-own strawberries and cut your own Christmas tree?
are you coming to Elmira tomorrow?

March 31st 2012
yes? then YOU are truly an AGRI-TOURIST!

you're most likely female, 35-50yrs old and have a pretty good income. you enjoy spending time with your 2 or more kids and spouse outside the big city because it's an affordable get away and educational plus you had to go grocery shopping anyway!

here's what you can do...

Eat Pancakes 
$4 single, $5 double
Go on a Sugar Bush Tour 
$5.50 adult, $3.50 child 2-12, 2 & under free
See the Quilt & Craft Show & Sale 
$2 adult each, 12 & under free
Enjoy the Dog Show  
$3 adult/child each, "babes-in-arms" free
Shop at the Antique Show & Sale 
$3 adult/child each, "babes-in-arms" free
Look around the Toy Show & Sale 
F $3, S $2, 12 & under free
Park & Take a Wagon Ride  
$5 per vehicle
Visit Old MacDonald's Farm, too 
$0.50 adult/child each

and of course...

will be the first booth to greet you at the south end of Arthur St.
with piping hot fresh roasted coffee.
OPEN at 6am (ugh)

Thursday, 22 March 2012


DO NOT contact "The Wandering Bean" for your event in Mississauga. they won't be able to make it. parade in Peterborough? nope. too far. outdoor festival to celebrate Canada Day....sorry they're not interested.

that's because....IT"S NOT US!!

there is another wandering bean on the other side of the world!! fair dinkum, mates!! WHAT'S GOING ON HERE??!! 

Aussie Twin? Down Under Doppelganger? 

Let me set you straight...


LOCATION: Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia    
OWNER/OPERATOR: Kellie Lee Vergotis
SET-UPS: Cart and Trailer
On the MENU: 'capucino', flat white, long black, lemon squash

LOCATION: Southern Ontario, Canada   
OWNER/OPERATOR: Jennifer Murray
SET-UPS: Trailer and Van
On the MENU: 'cappuccino',Canadiano, Toronto Fog, lemonade

  •  mobile espresso bars and no retail location 
  • facebook pages with Likes from the other side of the world :)
  • ethically sources coffee and espresso based drinks
  • a family owned and operated small business
  • hopes that someday our children will be employable
  • wonderful and loyal customers
  • wanderlust 
 COLE in Canada and NOAH in Australia

 BROTHERS from another Motherland?

Wednesday, 21 March 2012


Tell me I can't do it. That inspires me.

Starbucks and their many look a counter- inspire me. Thank-you.

1. Atmosphere. quiet and serene.
2. Color scheme. muted with warm.
3. Auditory signature. soft and melodious
4. Lighting. subdued and shadowy
5. Pace. slow and relaxed
6. Product names. foreign and sophisticated 

1. Atmosphere. find us in a field with an airshow overhead. 
2. Color scheme. red, yellow, orange and white with hints of stainless
3. Auditory signature. Stompin Tom to the New York Dolls. funk anyone? 
4. Lighting. the sun 
5. Pace. driven by caffeine
6. Product names. small medium large Canadiano and a Toronto Fog too

It's not a lifestyle, it's just good coffee. 

So go on and wet my paper bag....I dare you!

Sunday, 26 February 2012


ok maybe i should leave out the FU but

"Is the coffee good?" this question tells me two things about you

ONE being that you perceive me as an employee either because i'm a girl or that i'm youngish or perhaps you're so unfamiliar with small business and entrepreneurship that the fact that i am the owner doesn't even cross your mind  

number TWO is that you've falsely assumed i would be a disloyal employee. one that would lean across the counter and whisper 'don't bother' with a wink.

luckily i am self employed and after an appropriate amount of blank stare, i simply say "Yes"

that's on a good day

"Is the coffee fresh?" ...well you just watched me bound into the trailer to retrieve 4 new pots of coffee like an Oktoberfest barmaid and before i could even transfer them into a thermos you watched me pour 7 cups of piping hot coffee for the people in front of you."DID YOU JUST ASK IF THE COFFEE IS FRESH??" i ask you. staff begin to laugh nervously, everyone in line behind you looks at their feet

i'm sure at this point it all comes to you like one of those pinhole cameras smell the right smell, you see the pot steaming, you hear the grinder grinding and out of the corner of you eye you now even notice the people at the service bar smiling and nodding. but it's too late. you asked

is it because i don't have a giant banner that say FRESH HOT COFFEE?? or coffee bean graphics wrapped around my trailer? Espresso flags flying? logo-ed shirts and matching visor?

i TRULY BELIEVE i have given you all the RIGHT clues though. just look around

whole beans, coffee grinders, espresso grinders, manual espresso machines, cream (not whitener ugh), wooden stir sticks, raw sugar, high quality cups, fresh flowers and antiques.

other questions i've enjoyed over the years;

Is there something special about your coffee?
Should i get a coffee here or at that other place?
Will it be as good as the coffee i had in Italy?

sorry i was so rude