Long before social media was in the palms of our hands, people from the neighbourhood would congregate in a comfortable setting to enjoy good food, a coffee and a chat. With this in mind, Nan Eskenazi and her husband, Michael Going, set out to establish a community coffee house where customers could hang out and savour a coffee and a conversation. The first Good Earth Coffeehouse opened in Calgary in 1991 and, since then, the founders and their team have grown the brand from a single, neighbourhood store to a franchise of almost 50 across Canada. “I love to see people hanging out, and there’s always a good cup of coffee waiting for me,” says Eskenazi.
How did you come up with the name?
We thought about what we wanted—a coffee house with good coffee and wholesome food. When Michael said, “Good Earth,” we knew it was the right name.
Where do you source your coffee?
Our coffee suppliers, Reunion Island Coffee Roasters in Ontario, make sure their beans are produced in a sustainable and ethical way, and our customers can look at the packaging and see the farmer and where the coffee is from.
Did you ever think you’d own more than one coffee shop?
I was happy to have one busy store and was still happy with three and four. The franchising, which started in 2005, has given us the opportunity to share Good Earth [countrywide].
What is the philosophy behind the Good Earth concept?
We wanted Good Earth to be a place with good food— where you can interact with family and friends.
Did you model the business after anyone else?
It grew out of our values and lifestyle. And we look for likeminded people to operate the franchise shops, so the brand stays consistent.
With so many coffee shops now, has your role changed?
We have a small team in the corporate office, including a president. My role has always been to nurture the brand through all the touch points, the menu and the coffee to make sure it represents us, stays true to our ideas and excels at quality and service.
What sets Good Earth apart?
Our new shop designs are bringing the food prep back to the front of the house so customers see that the food is made fresh. I think we all like that idea. Walking into an independent coffee shop can be a bit of a gamble. Hopefully, you’re wowed by it.
Eskenazi’s picks: Good Earths in great locations
Vancouver: “[The Point Grey coffeehouse] is our first in Vancouver. Grab a flat white on your way to work, or pick up lunch and head to Jericho Beach for a picnic.”
Saskatoon: “The River Centre store [next to River Landing] is the perfect spot to enjoy a great caffe mocha on a chilly day in the City of Bridges.”
Calgary: “Share a French press of our feature coffee—Santa Anita from Costa Rica—at our original location in the Connaught neighbourhood.”