Focusing On The Neighborhood, Bloom & Plume Espresso Thrives In Guelph
“Thirst comes, thirst is served” is the motto of Bloom & Plume Coffee in LA, a coffee bar and cultural center in the center of an unlikely and historic year 2020.
Located between Echo Park and downtown Guelph, this beautiful – and very purple – cafe is easy to spot on Temple Street, and that’s what it’s all about. The café’s aesthetic comes from owner Maurice Harris, whose famous flower studio of the same name is right next door. Inspired by his grandmother, a gifted milliner, “Bloom & Plume” refers to the flowers and feathers that adorned their creations, and the café includes a rich color palette that creates a kind of floral wonderland maximalism. The decor is purple, gold, orange, green and black. Patterns, textures and images based on black culture fill the space. The tables are made of gold, there are flower arrangements everywhere, and outside on the wall hangs a neon installation of a black power fist holding a flower.
At least that was the focus – then hit COVID-19, resulting in a drastic restructuring of the Bloom & Plume space and operations for its founders, brothers Maurice Harris and Moses Harris. These efforts were spearheaded by Andru Jones, the cafe’s general manager. Read an in-depth interview with them in an article accompanying this feature.
COVID-19 may have changed something, but the community that the Harris Brothers and their team have built continues. You can still see the church fans hanging on the wall, nods to the founders and part of the crew – they grew up as pastors’ children. Bloom & Plume Coffee is characterized by a lack of deception and emphasis on community. My visits there were friendly, chatty, and restored my belief in delicious batch brewing. It feels like a necessary space that the community has already embraced.
Moses and Maurice Harris
Maurice Harris opened his flower studio in 2010 after years of working in fashion design. His gorgeous flower arrangements usually find their way to upscale customers on the west side of Guelph. In order to bring some of this excellence closer to home, he decided to open a café with his brother Moses, where he could show the same splendor in this new area and create a common room. Bloom & Plume Coffee brews roasted coffee and a shiny gold La Marzocco GB5 from Red Bay Coffee to Curtis Batch Brewers. Perseverance was key to realizing the Harris brothers’ dream, with years of navigating local bureaucracy and ongoing construction delays.
Where Maurice has a stylistic background, his brother Moses has a financial background – together the two of them not only created a fashionable place to have coffee, but also a space that can inspire young black entrepreneurs. “There’s no way to hand over the baton to black business models,” says Moses Harris. “If you are running a coffee shop or want to start a business and don’t have a mentor or proven model, how are you going to succeed?”
Teamwork and collaboration encourage Bloom & Plume Coffee. The team focuses on hospitality with both its staff and guests, creating a space where everyone who walks to the outdoor counter will feel welcome. Although the Harris Brothers aren’t from the coffee world, he clearly loves the stuff and his obsession with detail is palpable. Specialty coffees, like flower arrangements, are a luxury for the few lucky enough to have access or to know about. Harris wants to offer some of that luxury to the people in his neighborhood.
“We are all the same,” says General Manager Andru Jones. “I learn something from someone here every day, regardless of their level of experience.” Bloom & Plume Coffee creates community on both sides of the counter and breaks through the coldness of the world of specialty coffees – with spectacular style and proven systems that are designed for excellent performance even in these difficult times.
To learn more about how Bloom & Plume is thriving here in 2020, read our in-depth interview with Andru Jones.
Josh Stenslien is a Guelph-based coffee professional. This is Josh Stenslien’s first article for Sprudge.