Dispatch Coffee is an espresso truck run by Chrissy Durcak, who went from delivering iced coffee in mason jars on her bike to driving around Montreal in a beautiful cafe-on-wheels she designed with a friend and her brother. Inspired by friends at other local businesses, she took an idea for a coffee shop and made it mobile, fulfilling most caffeine addicts’ biggest dream: Coffee on wheels.
Durcak’s resume includes the names of some of Montreal’s best-loved coffee shops, and now that she’s a business-owner she’s committed to sustainable practices and local, organic ingredients. In addition to catering events and serving up espresso on the streets, Dispatch provides a Cold Brew coffee delivery service subscription (Yes, you heard that right, every home office in Montreal), a variety of baked goods from local chefs, and barista training. We talked to Durcak about how she got her dream on the road.
SDTC: How did you get the idea for Dispatch Coffee?
Chrissy Durcak: I had been planning to open my own café for quite some time, had the business plan worked out, was location scouting, etc. Last summer, my friends started a guerilla sandwich delivery service out of their homes called Coq Asian. They specialized in Bahn Mi’s and asked if I could do a Vietnamese style iced coffee for their menu. I started bike delivering iced coffee in mason jars.
Volume increased and people started asking wher they could find us or order more. I came up with the name “Dispatch Coffee”.
Around the same time, my friends at the Nouveau Palais were building their Winneburger truck, and I felt a need for mobile coffee. One thing lead to another and I re-visited my café business plan, modified it to a more mobile business, bought a truck, converted it over the summer and developed the Dispatch Coffee brand identity.
SDTC: So far, what has been the most important element of success for you?
CD: I would say a combo of hard work, incredible support and generous advice from friends and local business owners, commitment to quality and detail, and trusting my instincts.
SDTC: What are some tips you wish you’d known before you started out?
CD: Maybe to always have a Plan C?
SDTC: Your truck is beautiful. What’s the story behind it?
CD: Thank you. I shipped it from Vancouver as it was cheap and seemed to be in great condition. I later learned that I needed to throw in about as much as it cost in repair!
As for its design, I wanted to keep it simple. My brilliant friend David Dworkind and my brother Mike Durcak helped with my branding (website and design of truck).
I wanted our service to be out of the back of the truck, as the truck came with this beautiful white roll-up door in the back. The idea behind this was to create the ambiance of a café on the city streets, give people a real, intimate coffee break from their busy day, rather than the quick in and out service of a window on the sidewalk. However, we might have to re-configure this as the city is standardizing that all food-trucks do service out the side. Regardless, we’ll still keep our back stair system for private or open -air events.
SDTC: What’s the best place in Montreal to sip a take-out coffee?
CD: Dispatch Coffee? Hah. Um…I think we have have witnessed an amazing independent, quality focused coffee-shop growth spurt in Montreal over the past few years. I personally go to the few cafés that are a stones throw from where I live: Sardine, Arts Café, Café Plume, Pikolo, Myriade 2 on St-Viateur, Neve, etc. but there are so many others that I should mention. Each café seems to shine in its own unique way, which is the beauty of independent coffee shops – you can sample coffee from different roasters, prepared on different machines and handled by many different baristas.
SDTC: What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
CD: I mean, what works for me might not work for the next person. I’m not the best at hashing out business models and doing market research, etc. as most of my instinct stems from years of experience working in service/coffee. But I would advise to anyone, once you have hatched an idea that you are passionate about, to commit to it, do extensive research, make sure you have a security blanket and a plan B for everything. Be malleable and adaptable; expect life and things to throw a stick in too concrete of plans. Don’t be too hard on yourself, undertaking self-employment and entrepreneurship is always a risk, so try to frame it as a project rather than a necessity!