Newsletter: This Week in Tectoria

tectoriaI write the weekly This Week in Tectoria newsletter that is sent out to several thousand people in Victoria. Here are some profiles from the newsletter.



Writing Honda’s Annual Philanthropy Report

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The challenge: Create copy according to tight deadlines while working with a global chain of exacting stakeholders (including Dentsu) while preserving consistent messaging, as well as creating all-new copy that strictly conformed to existing Honda idiom.
The solution: Understand “What would Honda say?”
The success: We created a powerful story for millions of Honda customers, shareholders and employees.

Copywriting: broadcast content

The challenge: Quickly localize colour/play by play of Japan’s most popular reality program for use by producers at G4, the Comcast property that broadcasts Ninja Warrior in the United States
The solution: Create high-quality, interesting content in plain English that could be easily used and modified by the end client.
The success: G4 liked my copywriting so much that it purchased the entire back catalog (dating back to 1994) from the Japanese vendor, TBS, Japan’s largest network.

Sample video, featuring my script:


Tectoria’s Booming Coffee Culture

This originally appeared in the 2014 Tectoria Awards programme.


How many coffee shops are there in Victoria?

We posed this question to local coffee guru and founder of 2% Jazz, Sam Jones.

“Some stats say there are 52 coffee shops in the downtown core alone,” says Jones. “That works out to one coffee shop on every block, but there are probably more. Many more.”

The next question: why are there so many independent coffee shops in Victoria?

“Making truly great coffee is an activity perfectly suited for entrepreneurs,” says Jones. “For one thing, there is nothing easy about this business, so people have to be dedicated, innovative, and creative to thrive. And anyone who ever comes to Victoria is very motivated to succeed and make a living here. The result is a coffee culture that has blossomed in Victoria over the past two decades.”

Sam Jones himself got his start by opening a coffee kiosk nearly twenty years ago in front of the Times Colonist. He has since expanded to two locations, one of which is home his own roaster in the Hudson building.

“Starting out, I really paid attention to how the coffee was brewed,” says Jones. “Making sure the beans were ground right, making sure the water temperature was right, taking what you would call a scientific approach. Because it all affects the flavour of the coffee.”

In Victoria’s coffee scene in the 1990’s, which was seeing its first Starbucks outlets sprouting up, paying attention to the process of making coffee was revolutionary.

“At that time, the espresso Starbucks was serving up was considered cutting edge,” says Jones.

2% Jazz and the many other coffee shops that have sprung up on every corner in downtown Victoria are part of what many in the industry call the “Third Wave of Coffee,” where beans are sourced from farms instead of countries, roasting is about bringing out rather than incinerating the unique characteristics of each bean, and the flavor is clean and hard and pure.

In the Third Wave of Coffee, roasting your own beans is the equivalent of running a craft brewery.

“Ryan Taylor was also starting out twenty years ago,” says Jones. “Ryan helped transform coffee roasting in Victoria.”

Ryan Taylor is the founder of Caffe Fantastico. Like Sam Jones, Taylor got his start in a coffee kiosk, in his case on the causeway along the Inner Harbour, right next to the old Undersea Gardens.

“Ryan Taylor was the first to put his neck out there and start roasting small batches of coffee and showing Victoria there was a better option,” says Habit Coffee’s Shane Devereaux. “Until then, no one paid any attention to the quality aspects of coffee that are now embraced in Victoria.”

Devereaux says creating quality coffee starts on the farm where beans are sourced, and is a carefully managed chain of activities stretching all the way from processing, shipping, roasting the beans, to brewing and serving the perfect cup of coffee.

“Working with our trusted partner Bows & Arrows, Habit sources our coffees from Central America, South America, and East Africa,” says Devereux. “Traveling with Bows & Arrows, I have been to Brazil, Honduras, and Nicaragua working directly with the farmers who we buy coffees from.”

Bows & Arrows supplies Habit Coffee and other cafes across Canada with roasted beans. The local company operates a roastery and its own coffee tasting bar near Victoria’s Jutland neighbourhood.

“Most cities in North America that have a booming tech scene also have a vibrant coffee culture,” says Amber Fox, who sources coffee with Bows & Arrows. “There is something about the combination of caffeine and creativity that appeals to entrepreneurs.”

And, like many tech workers in Victoria, Amber Fox also arrived in Victoria after spending many years away south of the border, most recently in San Francisco, where she was immersed in cutting-edge coffee culture.

“By working with Bows & Arrows I had the opportunity to provide people in Victoria with beans that were directly sourced from producers,” Fox says. “There are obvious ethical reasons for sourcing in this way, but sourcing directly also makes for better-tasting coffee.”

Fox explains that Bows & Arrows is an example of a growing movement to adopt elements of wine culture to coffee, notably the concept of “terrior”, how the geography, geology and climate of a certain place affect the taste of coffee.

“This approach allows coffee roasters to source seasonally, and offer a variety of flavours,” Fox says. “The traditional approach to sourcing coffee beans can result in uneven quality, which is why dark roasts are used to mask or even destroy the flavour of a terrible bean. We’re working hard to change that.”

While Sam Jones at 2% Jazz knows that flavour is important, like Fox and Devereaux he recognizes that coffee shops have to be enjoyable places to pass time.

“I always remind my staff that smiling and being friendly are just as important as providing a good cup of coffee,” says Jones. “As Maceo Parker would say, what we do is 2 percent jazz and 98 percent funky stuff. We want to make people feel good.”

Coffee Facts and Figures from the Mind of Sam Jones

  • At least 52 coffee shops in downtown Victoria
  • That’s a coffee shop on every block
  • 7 independent coffee roasters
  • 70: number of cups of coffee 2% Jazz serves every hour
  • 31: tons of green beans 2% Jazz roasts each year

Copywriting: PR + Messaging

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The challenge: Highlight Camosun College’s energy sustainability initiatives and give prominent partners recognition for an upcoming print and online campaign.
The solution: Create punchy, powerful messaging that highlight’s Camosun’s hidden
The success: We created a powerful story for millions of Honda customers, shareholders and employees.