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Amy Sniffs Sourdough
General News · 17th July 2012
John Mottishaw
Co-op Coffee Bar and Bakery
A web of interconnection ties the CCBB to Cortes Island.

Last year the interior of the space next to the Co-op Market got a complete renovation. Beautiful woodwork and finish by local master crafts persons, Fred Savage, Steve Mawdsley, Steven Remedios among others, re-imagined and reconstructed the full service restaurant into a bakery and coffee bar. Before the reno, the vision was to make a restaurant next to the Co-op. However, a notice from the health department regarding the substandard septic system shot down the use as a full-service eating establishment. But the space still is here and in use as a bakery and take-out coffee bar.

It is staffed by trained barista, Jasmine Lawrence and accomplished baker, Amy Bockner. Angela, Yifan, Cassie and Jayne also make coffee, bake and serve. When I ordered an espresso drink, Jasmine ground the coffee on the spot and packed it into the full power espresso machine. She then steamed the milk to lathery foam, tapped the container to take out the big bubbles and expertly flowed it into my own cup. (They will provide take-out containers but they really like it if you bring your own coffee container to avoid making more landfill garbage and avoid adding to the drain water.) The result was a very hot delicious espresso latté. While I was there, fresh island roasted beans were delivered by Scott from Becca’s Beans in Whaletown, one more example of the way CCBB contributes to the Cortes economy.

Jasmine also serves cookies, some hot from the oven and a range of juices and teas.

I watched as Amy weighed the bagel dough, rolled it into rings and placed it in the commercial oven where she turned them to get even browning on all sides. Before I left, they were being placed fresh into a huge basket. She says they almost always sell out of the fresh baked goods and what is not sold goes next door to the Co-op, which is open later into the evening.

Our conversation turned to sourdough. The starter has been going for years. She showed me a container of the starter in whole wheat flour that still had a couple days to go. She can tell by a sniff test when it is ready. It changes from a nondescript wheaty smell to a pungent sharp tangy aroma when it has finished its magic. She was punching down a huge bowl of sourdough white bread as I watched. Amy prepares everything from breakfast take-out burritos, hot lunch take-out to a range of breads including hard-to-find gluten free, whole wheat and exotic grains. While I was there, Amy never stopped moving. She says baking for people is very satisfying. I could understand that as the smell of hot bakery items came out of the stove in a steady stream. It was enough to set my mouth watering.

Not only is this a network of people, CCBB also provides an information service. Is there a drumming circle here on the island? There is. Can you recommend a great hike in the area? There are several close by. Where is the nearest gas station? Not close, but there are two. A great place to swim? What kind of swimming would you like? Do you know someone who needs work done? Needs Work? Yes, Yes. When people come, people tell and people ask. On top of that there is good Wi-Fi to answer those questions that are not so local.

Who is the clientele? It is a little of everyone from the local guys who need to wake up with a morning joe before they go off to work, writers who are looking for that neutral place where it is not too quiet and not too noisy, with just the right amount of buzz, people who want to meet-up and of course the hungry and the thirsty.

What the CCBB is not is an anonymous cookie cutter coffee shop where standardization is key to the chain’s success. This is a co-operative venture at the centre of our community, on a parcel of land that has been used by the community since it housed the school for our children. The Co-op Coffee Bar and Bakery hums with the people committed to Cortes as a vibrant place to live.

Baker Amy and Barista Jasmine with Bakegoods
Baker Amy and Barista Jasmine with Bakegoods