In the spring of 1984, Terry and Germaine Montague moved from Regina, Saskatchewan to Notre-Dame, New Brunswick to settle and open a business. Within a year, they were constructing a traditional log building made with local cedar and pine, and it became the home of their first business - Pépin, Service de cuisine opened its doors in June 1986.
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Being busy became increasingly demanding for the owners whose time and energy were being taxed. They therefore started to research other opportunities. By early 1996, the decision was made to transform the business and the log building into a coffee roasting house. And that November, Down East Coffee Company started roasting coffee with Terry as roastmaster.
Blends were developed with the help of the Centre d’études acadiennes (Université de Moncton). It played an important role in naming new blends, many of which honour Atlantic traditions and history.
The transition from commercial kitchen to coffee roasting was done over two years. The kitchen continued to cater and serve its patrons hors d’oeuvre, pastries, meals to go, etc. at Marché Moncton Market but halted serving international cuisine at the restaurant, offering light meals instead and offering made to measure menus for gatherings.
In 1998, Down East Coffee gained prominence when Terry and Germaine became seminar presenters at the first Canadian Coffee Expo held in Toronto. That autumn, Down East made its first appearance at the Wine Festival, featuring espresso, in what has become an annual tradition. Terry penned an article for the Coffee Culture magazine and the publisher visited the roasting house, featuring it in its Spring/Summer 1999 issue and claiming “Their son Caley, one of the youngest baristas in the East, makes a mean cappuccino.”
The company pursued a tourism strategy and became part of the province’s Day Adventure program by offering visitors the experience of ‘An evening at the roasting house – the art of coffee roasting’. For both years it offered this experience, Down East Coffee was awarded the prestigious Savvy Traveller Award for excellence in NB vacationing 1999 and 2000. The company was also part of the local artisans and crafts people network and referred to on their tourism maps and web sites. What was not expected from visitors was the demand for mail order services after returning home. This service was therefore established and continues to be available today.
In 1999, the company opened Café Cognito in downtown Moncton. The café became the favoured spot to enjoy an espresso by many world leaders and dignitaries who attended the eighth Francophone Summit held in Moncton that summer. Many had been served Down East coffee and espresso upon arrival at the airport in their private lounge. Meanwhile, Pépin Cuisine was busy catering for events. In October, then Mayor Brian Murphy sipped the first cup of Moncton Blend during Cognito’s grand opening.
Down East Coffee and Café Cognito were featured in the yearly book Where to Eat in Canada three years in a row: 2000-01, 2001-02, and 2002-03. And in June 2002, Pépin catered its largest event, the inauguration of HMSC Moncton at Pointe-du-Chêne, NB. It was a perfect day. That November, Caley, while in high school, opened his first business, a coffee kiosk at Marché Moncton Market known as Buzz du jour. At a very young age, he had been selling ‘mini muffins’ and other goods at the Pépin market stall and was therefore well known by patrons who supported his venture.
In 2002, Down East Coffee became New Brunswick first certified Fair Trade roaster. Today, Down East continues to offer premium fair trade, organic and shade grown coffees. By 2003, the commercial kitchen had stopped operating and it was transformed into needed space for coffee packaging and shipping.
Down East Coffee had the opportunity to roast jungle coffee from Haïti for Pastor Paul of Florenceville, NB who fundraised for the benefit of citizens of Jacmel for many years starting in 1998. Another significant project was headed by Dr. Jamie Gripton of Sackville, NB and who imported Old Tavern Estate Coffee (Alex Twyman’s small farm) from Jamaica to fundraise for humanitarian aid. This project ran from 2001 to 2006 when Dr. Gripton passed away.
In 2005, Down East received a merit award, given by Eco-Vision Certification Programme. This organisation is credited with educating and rewarding local companies who adhered to good ecological practices. And in 2009, Down East Coffee launched its first web site.
It took many years of searching to find the right location for a second roasting house in Moncton. After viewing many buildings, the ideal location became available in 2008. Fifteen months later, the landmark old liquor store at the corner of St. George Blvd and Mount Royal Blvd changed hands and began to serve a different kind of brew. May 5, 2010, both Down East Coffee - Moncton and Café Codiac Coffee opened. The Notre-Dame roasting house continues to serve its established retail, wholesale, and mail order clients. The Moncton roasting house serves retail and wholesale clients as well as those who wish to fundraise with Down East coffee.
In January 2011, Café Cognito was in need of a new home. The building, where business had been brisk for almost 12 years, was sold. After months of searching, Moncton’s oldest independent café finally found a new home at 581 Main Street, downtown Moncton.
In May 2013, readers of the Here Magazine voted Café Codiac as Best Coffeeshop in Moncton. In Fredericton, readers gave that honour to Cedar Tree Café. Both establishments serve Down East Coffee.
In April 2015, Café Cognito was sold but the same great menu remains, as well as the serving and selling of Down East coffees.
In October 2016, Café Codiac was awarded two Business Excellence Awards by the Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce; the Young Entrepreneur Award and the People’s Choice Award.
This brings us to the present and Down East is planning for its future.
Down East Coffee continues to grow and the changes contribute to the company’s success as Atlantic Canada’s finest roasting house. It must be said that this success would never have taken place had staff not been motivated, energetic, loyal, and competent. We are very grateful to our loyal customers and work diligently at providing them with excellent coffee consistently.