Waves Coffee House
In only six years, Waves Coffee House has established itself as one of Western Canada’s fastest growing coffee chains in the country’s most populated coffee house market.
The gourmet coffee chain’s success developed by building a brand based on the unique vibe and geographic advantages of the west coast. Casual, welcoming, and spacious, Waves Coffee House first opened its doors on the corner of West Hastings and Richards St. in Vancouver in November 2005. A busy intersection for students and people working in the business towers, the original location was an instant success, propelled by Owner Kami Rahmati’s passion for the gourmet coffee business.
If you ask Director of Marketing Kayvan Rahmati what is at the foundation of the company’s success, the answer is connectivity. Recognized by Brand Coaches as the “hottest brand in Canada” and as the “best of brands” by over 1,500 coffee retailers, Waves is a place for family, friends, and business partners to meet, but Waves takes the theme further by offering free Wi-Fi Internet connections at all locations, one of the first chains to do so.
“We wanted to base our company on a place to connect; somewhere students could come and go on the Wi-Fi, where partners could come to do business—this is something we believe the coffee house is about.”
Now with 23 locations on the lower mainland, and four in Calgary, Waves is one of the west coast’s biggest local coffee chains. “Our strategy was to open up at least one location in the heart of whatever district we were in, such as downtown Richmond and downtown Vancouver,” explains Rahmati. “Once we are in the market, customers recognize the name, brand and quality and are willing to choose us again.”
Even initially, Waves were hard to miss. Many coffee houses, especially in downtown cores, are very small. All Waves locations are licensed as restaurants to allow for more seating, as opposed to café licensed, which limits the amount of seats available. “We wanted to incorporate how people could meet and sit and enjoy their time at Waves, and all but one of our locations are larger than 1,400 square feet, providing a lot of seating space.”
Lattes, cappuccinos, mochas and fresh brews are all made from Waves’ exclusive coffee blends. As coffee professionals, Waves understands the ranges of coffees grown from around the world, offering the highest possible quality beans from South America to Africa to provide customers with great tasting beverages. Waves’ roast master oversees that each batch of beans is put through visual, aromatic and taste tests then roasted in drum roasters.
With blended drinks, Belgian Hot Chocolate, African rooibos teas, cold drinks and espresso-based drinks on the menu, there is something for any mood, “like rooibos red espresso, an anti-oxidant tea, popular in the summer time, with shaken iced tea,” says Rahmati. Lunch items like pastries, paninis and sandwiches are also brought in from local bakeries.
Waves is now taking the connectivity idea even further, as customers are coming to rely on it more and more. Recognizing a movement where it sees a lot of business meetings taking place, Waves Coffee House has recently implemented meeting rooms in all chains. “It’s a nice feature, where a group project or presentation, they can book the room, 12 seats, and they can do whatever they were intending to do, no charge,” Rahmati says.
Having expanded to two dozen stores in such a short time, this year Waves took the opportunity to refocus its energy on developing a consistent customer service model. The company opened a 9,000 square foot training facility and rewrote a manual for all employees on delivering service that is second to none.
“We thought that was a nice philosophy,” reflects Rahmati. “To create a place where people can come and do what they need to do and enjoy coffee, because nowadays it’s all rush, rush, rush.”