Fifteen Minutes With Annie Viehweger Of Matchstick Coffee Roasters

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There’s plenty to love about Matchstick Coffee. We go through their beans in the Scout office like grass through a mower (there’s always a bag of their “Catalogue” in rotation) and we’ve loved their cafes since the first one arrived in the Fraserhood back in January of 2012. We’ve since watched the company grow with a second location in Chinatown (complete with bakery and six beer/cider taps), and now we’re eagerly anticipating their third address, this time on Main Street in Riley Park. Of course the draw isn’t wholly impersonal or transactional; there’s more to it than just coffee and a good hang. Getting to see the bright, smiling, omnipresent face of co-founder Annie Viehweger is a double shot pick-me-up in and of itself, and we invite you to get to know her better. So say hello…

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What neighbourhood do you live in and what makes it home? We live in the South Hill neighbourhood around Fraser and 41st. There are parks galore, the best Indian food a few blocks away and it’s easy to hop on the bus and get just about anywhere in less than half an hour.

What was the last live concert you saw? The Bahamas at the Queen E. It was seriously the most delightful few hours. Also, Affie Jurvanen is just plain dreamy.

A local artist, designer or maker you’re digging right now? My friend Erin Boniferro runs the sweetest contemporary art shop called Collage Collage on Main and 21st. They put on art classes for all ages and have the best selection of children’s books that cover the whole front wall. Think “Shop Around The Corner” meets your favourite high school art teacher. Erin is also a mum of two and I’m blown away by her dedication to East Van families.

What skills learned in the world of running your own business do you find applicable to parenting? Work in the cafes includes balancing customers, to-do lists and staff relationships and often feels so much like being a mum! Both require patience, kindness and understanding and are rewarding in the same way. I can’t imagine my life without either. I’m a lucky woman!

Default drink/cocktail of choice? I’m allergic to grapes (I know, the worst) so I drink a lot of cider. It’s really exciting to see how many new ciders are starting to emerge. I love Rum Runner by Sea Cider in the winter and something funky like Merridale’s “Scrumpy” in the summer. My husband also makes a mean whisky sour.

Dogs or cats? Dogs. Cats scare me, for real.

Your last Halloween costume? Parisian witch.

Your all-time best Halloween costume? A Ferbie. Right?

What game did you love as a kid? I loved playing “kick the can” as a kid. I grew up with two older brothers on a small cul de sac and most nights we played outside until it got dark. How things have changed!

The strangest talent that you possess? I’m quite good at whistling a tune. Sometimes my family and I will whistle a song together and break off into three part harmony. We usually start cracking up because it’s so ridiculous but I’d say it’s a definite talent.

Oddest place you’ve ever slept? A church pew.

What keeps you up at night? One’s called Abraham and the others called Prudence.

What do you do when you can’t sleep? If my kids are sleeping then I’m sleeping. No joke. Being a parent is pretty tiring and I sleep pretty soundly by the end of the day. When I was little I used to have a lot of bad dreams and my mum used to tell me to think about how fun Christmas morning would be when it arrived and I’d fall right back to sleep. Still works like a charm.

Your major character flaw? People pleaser. I just care what people think way too much.

The thing that is bad for you that you will never stop eating? Chips, darn it! I can slam a whole bag of Dijon flavoured Kettle Chips in one sitting. And 5 cent candies.

How do you decompress? It usually involves my husband, a glass of cider, my couch and Netflix. I love watching old TV series like West Wing, Frasier and ER. I’ve also gotten really into fitness in the last year and really depend on working out or running for my brain sanity.

The strangest thing you’ve ever eaten? Deep fried whole sardines. They were delicious!

What’s for breakfast at home? I eat oatmeal with all the fixings every weekday and so does my whole family. I used to hate it but it’s totally grown on me. On the weekends we make poached eggs on toast with any number of additions. I could eat eggs for every meal

Biggest surprise of the last year? This was a little over a year ago but finding out I was pregnant when my son was only six months old was a pretty big surprise. I think I cried for a few days then was really excited!

Three books that made an impact on you in your formative years? Sense and Sensibility, Matilda and The Red Tent.

Your biggest fear? Taxidermy. And something horrible happening to one of my children.

Last time you had breakfast in bed? Golly, too long ago. It was after my daughter Prudence was born and my husband brought me breakfast in bed. He’s a good guy.

Favourite item in your closet right now? My tan Swedish Hasbeens. I wear them ALL the time. Clogs are so comfortable and these ones are pretty cute.

The first album that made you love music? Sweet Baby James by James Taylor [listen].

A character from a movie that you’d love to share a meal with? Lester Bangs [watch].

Three events you are most looking forward to this year? The opening of our third location in Riley Park, traveling with my husband to Eastern Canada for his 30th birthday and Christmastime with my kids who are old enough to really get it this year. What’s better than the wonder of Christmas? Let me tell you — nothing.

A touristy Vancouver activity that you’ve never done but have secretly always wanted to? Skating at the top of Grouse Mountain.

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What trend have you followed that you now regret? I regret following fashion trends that I knew didn’t jive with my body type. Low rise jeans. Short pleated school girl skirts. Oh, the list could go on and on. As I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten much more classic with what I put on my body and face.

Favourite BC winter activity/excursion? My husband is from Alberta and really loves snow so we love visiting Emerald Lake Lodge for a winter getaway.

Favourite BC summer activity/excursion? Iona Beach for the afternoon. It’s a hidden gem of a beach close to the airport. The tide goes out so far and you can run for miles and miles. Ice cream on the way home and homemade burgers to end the day.

Your go to, no-frills place for dinner in Vancouver? Sushi Yama. It’s a wicked place near Broadway & Main that is totally kid-friendly and has the best, most affordable sushi. We ate there like 5 nights a week when we were building our Fraser Street cafe. Or Pizzeria Farina. You literally cannot go wrong.

If you could board a plane this afternoon, where would it be taking you? San Fransisco. I’m always ready to board a plane to SF. It’s such a fun city.

Favourite Vancouver landmark? Is the Lions Gate Bridge a landmark? Who knows, but I love it. Driving through Stanley Park at night and cruising over the Lions Gate Bridge with the lights glowing, windows down and the tunes cranked.

Three places you like to take out of town visitors? Deep Cove for a warm honey’s donut, Lighthouse Park and fish and chips at Go Fish.

Shoe of choice? Clogs. Clogs for life.

The different career path that you could have gone on? Probably fashion retail. I worked in a clothing store as a teenager and really loved it. It specialized in clothing for middle-aged women and I can’t tell you how rewarding of a job it was to help women and mothers find clothes that they felt beautiful in.

Your ancestry? My family is German, Dutch and Scandinavian. Last name was Buhler (Yes, like Ferris) and now it’s Viehweger. I can’t escape my German ancestry and I’d never want to!

Where did you grow up? North Vancouver, close to Deep Cove. Vancouver gal through and through.

Three favourite dishes in Vancouver? Garlic Squid from Phnom Pehn, Peanut Noodles from The Union and Spicy Spaghetti from Arms Reach in Deep Cove. Honourable mention to the mussels at The Twisted Fork but they’re only open for brunch now. Devastated.

Top three films from your high school days? Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, Star Trek lV and BBC’s six part mini-series of Pride and Prejudice. Let me tell you, I had loads of boyfriends in high school…

Last piece of art you purchased? A print of Muhammad Ali underwater for my husband.

What are you the most proud of? My marriage. Being someone’s partner for life is really hard and we have faced a hell of a lot in the last ten years. We got married when we were 20 and I’m extremely proud that after 3 shops, two babies, a round of cancer for Spencer and a few other huge road blocks, we’re still going strong. Here’s to fifty more, honey.

Forest or beach? Beach. Being near any body of water really makes me feel happy and calm.

Most beautiful body of water you have ever gone swimming in? I know I should say swimming in the crystal clear waters of bla bla bla but the most beautiful water that I’ve swam in is right here in Vancouver. My mind takes me to riding massive waves at Second Beach with my Dad and laughing until we could barely swim. What’s more beautiful than that?

The best thing about your work? Working the till. I could stand at the till and serve customers every day for the rest of my life. Getting to meet new people and see them discover coffee or bite into a warm croissant is simply the best. It just gets better when you start to see the same people almost every day and they truly become like family. I get to witness blind dates, people falling in love and mamas’ growing bellies. I get to smile at someone who’s having a hard day and hopefully they leave feeling just a little bit less alone. I have the great privilege to serve our community. I’m just the luckiest girl.

One ritual, tradition, or superstition in you observe? We call the last night of November “Nog’s Eve” in our family. We drink eggnog for the first time and I’m finally allowed to listen to Christmas music. It’s one of my favourite traditions. Did I mention that I like Christmas?

If you had a motto, what would it be? There is never a reason to be unkind.

Scariest situation you’ve ever been in? One summer when my brother Charlie and I were teenagers we drove from Vancouver to Calgary in a day. He tells the story like this, “Annie was sleeping in the passenger seat and I was sleeping in the drivers seat…”. I woke up mid-air after our Previa van hit the concrete barrier between us and the deep ravine of the Rocky Mountains. That was pretty scary but we were fine.

Your favourite curse word? I’m not much of a curser but I noticed my kid saying “holy shit” the other day and realized I probably say that more then I realize.

What object of no monetary value will you keep dearly until you die? When my husband and I were dating long distance we decided to write a story back and forth about a girl traveling through Europe. We’d write chapters on napkins or magazine pages and mail them to each other. It’s a pretty great story about a girl who falls in love with a mysterious, brooding philosopher during her travels and it’s really precious to me. I have all the pages in a box in my closet along with all the other letters and mementos of our relationship. I’d grab that box in a fire.

On a perfect day off, what are the top three things you’d like to see happen? A perfect day (or every day in my life) starts with a cappuccino. It would include lunch with my book club girls who have become my dearest companions through life. It would also involve pasta with my husband and chasing my children at Iona Beach. It’s pretty cool when you realize that your perfect day gets to happen a lot.

Your first memory? My mum pushing me in the stroller and hearing her sing little tunes while walking.

Three words that would describe you as a child? Outgoing, adventurous and anxious.

Your favourite local place to kick back with a beer? Brassneck. Or grabbing a growler and a pizza and heading to Crab Park.

Do you have a favourite photograph? Yes. It’s a picture of Spencer and I before we started dating. We’re reenacting The Angel of Victory holding the soldier statue in Gastown whilst standing right in front of it.

The most beautiful place in the world? Anywhere that I’m with my family. Could be Hawaii or our front yard. I just like them a lot.

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