Over twenty years ago, Dan Zackarius opened Zack’s Coffees, Teas & Gifts in the historical Ellis Block, located on the corner of 4th Avenue and Victoria Street in downtown Kamloops. The coffee shop’s charm has remained a constant throughout the decades due to its famous striped awnings and bold varieties of coffee beans and tea leaves. However, since 2012 Andrew Blackwell has been the proud owner of Zack’s alongside a staff of ten that is a, “close community of really friendly people.” Blackwell’s family is well-known in the Kamloops community for establishing Blackwell Dairy Farm in Barnhartvale in 1913, and the family’s contributions to local charities and events.
Every day, waves of office staff, retirees, and students fill up the space of dark hardwood floors and a wall of windows. Andrew attributes the store’s success to being, “…fairly interesting and cutting edge…a third way of coffee which people may not expect.” Without skipping a beat, he mentions his staff, “are dedicated and have stuck around….I’m proud of them. They always do a great job.” Whether they are shooting freshly ground espresso or preparing your slice of lemon meringue pie, the staff at Zack’s Coffees is down to earth and welcoming. The long-term staff of the ten often socialize outside of work, a handful of them living in downtown Kamloops as well.
It is clear their products speak for themselves for all demographics of tea and coffee drinkers. One thing customers and residents may not know is that all coffee beans here are roasted in-house. When asked about general coffee bean roasting etiquette, Andrew states that, “it changes from bean to bean and from crop to crop. There are different varieties and different beans taste better dark and vice versa. Some have different properties of fruit notes like citrus or more orchardy and some can have more chocolatey notes. You want to tailor the roast to every bean.” This is what they do with coffee beans from Costa Rica, Kenya, Ethiopia and other higher altitude, equatorial countries. Zack’s Coffees “ongoing experimentation” with roasting techniques has revived the ‘morning cup of joe’ for espresso enthusiasts. On a Monday morning, you may be sipping a Costa Rican blend whereas on Tuesday you’ll be surprised by the aromas in a Kenyan blend. Similarly, the clientele at Zack’s are pleasantly unpredictable as previously mentioned.
Andrew sums up the neighbourhood he lives and works in nicely by stating, “…the feeling of people moving around rather than just cars going from one place to another is nice, especially in a city that’s spread out like Kamloops. It’s a little more organic.” In a fast-paced world, we may all need to be reminded every now and then to slow down and enjoy an afternoon engrossed in a novel or great conversation.
In the past, Zack’s has hosted all-ages, live music events for jazz musicians and folk artists alike. Stay tuned to see what the future has in store for Andrew and his team at Zack’s Coffees & Teas!