Montreal’s first zero-waste coffee shop

Montreal’s first zero-waste coffee shop

Café le 5ème


  • Social & Cultural
  • Urban


  • startup
  • environment

Montreal’s first zero-waste coffee shop

Published on:
December 16, 2016
Event date:
Friday, 16 December, 2016 (All day)

In the half-basement of a building located on Rue de la Montagne, at the corner of rue du Séminaire, Dorian Zéphir and Simon Fonseca opened the Le 5ième café – the first zero-waste coffee shop in Montreal. Here, coffee rhymes with conviviality, a co-operative space and ecology.

The birth of a project

Last year, at the École de Technologie Supérieure (ÉTS), Dorian Zéphir and a dozen other students all discovered the ÉTS's brand new building : la Maison des Etudiants (MDE). It was love at first sight! Nevertheless, they thought it would be a good idea to add "a super-friendly workspace and coffee shop combo". That’s when they discovered the 5th floor;. twenty-two thousand square feet where you could imagine everything and anything. Their eyes lit up and ideas kept popping into their heads. "We started working on the coffee shop's financial plan to measure the project’s viability. And it’s doable!" Dorian explains. Unfortunately, plans changed, and the project couldn’t see the light in that particular space.

But still - Dorian isn’t ready to see his project fly away. That same evening, he searches for a new space to rent on Kijiji. And as though destiny had knocked at his door, a space is waiting for him. After just a single visit, he’s in love. It's it. He gets back to work reviewing the financial plan. A few months later, the lease is signed and the  crowdfunding campaign is launched. "It was the perfect place, in an old building full of character. A space open to the neighbourhood andlocated steps away from the ÉTS” Dorian says.

Starting from nothing and recycling everything

"At first I was all alone on this project and I knew I was going to need help. The first person I went to see at this point was Antoine Leduc from the Quartier de l’Innovation". With the help of QI, Dorian is introduced to various influential people in the neighbourhood. For him, it was "the big boost we needed to build our project. The QI managed to point us to the key people that are invested in the area. And these people really joined the project! "

Realizing that he could not carry this project alone, Dorian teamed up with Simon Fonseca. The two 27-year oldentrepreneurs and co-founders then devote themselves entirely to the creation of what will become Montreal’s very first  first zero-waste coffee shop .

Zero-waste philosophy

"In my personal life, while I was pushing through on this project, I was also  transforming my habits and shifting from a "classic" sustainable lifestyle to a waste-free one”says Dorian. After attending a conference by Bea Johnson, he realizes "that it’s not so complicated to apply this concept on a daily basis." And he wants to go further... by extending it to the café Le 5ième.

In practice, the Zero Waste approach comes with a goal to produce the minimum amount of compostable and recyclable waste – with absolutely nothing going to the dump. Complicated? Not at all, explains Dorian.

"Our towels are, as in many restaurants, reusable; The vast majority of our cups were given to us by residents of the neighbourhood or picked up a bit by bit in places  like the Salvation Army. To take away coffee, people have to bring their own containers; pieces of wood or brick have been grabbed from one of Simon’s construction sites to create the counter and various decorations; chairs and stools that have been found on Kijiji and tables were given by the residents. There's nothing new. Everything has been recovered and rehabilitated."

A special shout out to the company Lenoir & Lacroix who also accepted the role of Zero Waste supplier, letting Dorian and his colleagues provide them with coffee containers.

He admits to being very fortunate for being associated with Simon Fonseca who is "very manual and full of ideas". He can create wonders with almost nothing, he confides.

Enthusiastic and involved residents

Thanks to a crowd-funding campaign, Dorian and Simon were able to involve the residents of the area - creating a real sense of belonging before the opening of the coffee shop.

"Residents were given the opportunity to participate in the project through contributions that gave them perks such as having their name on one of the coffee shop’s beams. There are several people who could not afford to contribute financially butwhen the campaign was over, they came to see us and asked if we needed any plants,r cups, r chairs, furniture, carpets? They were valued as much as the funding, and we offered them the same perks. "

Today, the coffee shop is a definite success, as they already know most of the customers that step through the door. The relationship is already built on solid foundations and appears to be here to stay.

Montreal’s first zero-waste coffee shop