F*#k Bad Coffee! Meet Vancouver’s Favourite Coffee Snob

Urban dictionary’s most decent description of a ‘snob’ is someone who thinks they’ve got better taste than others in most things. Usually, we tend to snub a snob, but when it comes to coffee, we will take it! Because… aren’t you done with bad coffee? 

Drinking bad coffee can be an inevitable first step before finding the perfect cup. Vancouver Coffee Snob Tom Fitzgerald explains, “No disrespect to anyone who drinks it, but I just don’t think there is a good fast-food coffee.” Not sure what fast-food coffee is? Watch this Bits & Bytes episode and find out!  

Long-time Launch alumni, Tom Fitzgerald believes that Vancouver has an awesome coffee scene, but there is always room to make it truly world-class. The coffee blogger’s spin-off company is Siply, a mobile app that curates the best coffee shops in Vancouver. On Siply, you can find some of the best specialty, local, artisanal, and craft coffee shops in your local area and try out their drinks at a discounted rate! 

Fitzgerald’s journey as a startup founder in the food-and-beverage tech space stemmed from the idea of identifying some of the best coffee available in the city, driven by his passion to help smaller, local coffee shops scale. 

Through various interactions with coffee shop owners, Fitzgerald found out 3 of the biggest problems that they were facing:

  • Recruitment & Staff Retention
  • Sales
  • Marketing

While he couldn’t do much about the recruitment issue (although he tried to create a job board and failed), considering his tech background he thought he could help out with sales and marketing. That is how the Siply app came to fruition. “It was about creating a nice community and curating the best shops on the app, so that you never end up wandering into a bad one. And I give the users of the app a discount on coffee when they go to one of the listed shops,” says Fitzgerald. 

When COVID hit, local coffee shops took a beating. Siply’s sales went to almost zero overnight. “It was bit of a scary moment.” At this time, Fitzgerald pivoted to offer pro-bono help for the coffee shops, this included building online stores to help increase their customer reach and revenue.

He also brought in new ideas by conducting a survey asking Siply users what their major concerns were that kept them from visiting the cafes and stores. Apart from the usual ‘cleanliness’, some other ideas generated through the survey were: use of a window to serve coffee, building a patio, offering home brewing equipment, gift cards and coffee packs.

Some of these ideas proved to be a life-saver for many local shop owners as he encouraged them to adopt some of these ideas to survive during that time. 

Coffee Window

Revolver, in Gastown was praised highly for their immediate pivot into window service. Several other shops adopted the same.

It might sound like reviewing coffee for a living might be easy, but for the coffee blogger turned entrepreneur, it’s not always fun. As a solo founder life gets tough sometimes. “You got to be a little mad to be an entrepreneur. It’s terrifying at times. The lows are really low, the highs are really high.” Unlike a regular 9-5 job, the pressure is always on. “Even if I’m having a bad day, or I’m hungover, the buck stops at me.”

But snobs don’t sulk. Do they?

It’s all the feedback that keeps Fitzgerald going. Seeing the growth of local coffee shops, people sharing their stories such as their coffee drinking progression, buying their first coffee grinder, or visiting a new coffee shop through the app. “All I really want to do is grow the coffee scene in Vancouver.” 

Watch the Bits & Bytes episode with Launch’s Jean Yoon & Sam Chan to find out Fitzgerald’s top 3 coffee picks!

About Tom Fitzgerald

tom fitzgerald

Launch Alumni, Tom Fitzgerald is the founder of Siply, a mobile app-based marketplace for small to medium size coffee shops. He is also the face behind vancouvercoffeesnob.com which has now grown to become the largest coffee shop blog in Canada. His coffee writing was recognized with an honoree award in the 2019 Sprudge Global Coffee Writing Awards.

Connect with Tom on LinkedIn
Visit vancouvercoffeesnob.com to find out the latest and the best of Vancouver’s coffee scene.
Download Siply (available on Android & iOS) to sip into some good coffee while saving money! 

Find us on all of the podcast platforms

We're on all of the major platforms, just search for Bits & Bytes.

You can also use our RSS feed or find us on Youtube.

Listen to Bits & Bytes on your favourite platform