Balzac’s Coffee – A cup of whoa
As the self-described director of experience at Balzac’s Coffee Roasters, Diana Olsen did her research in the late ’80s and early ’90s when she moved from Vancouver to Paris to study French and work as an au pair.
“I spent a lot of time roaming the streets and sticking out like a tourist because of the way I dressed,” she says. “I didn’t look like a chic Parisian girl, but I’d go into the cafés and feel a real sense of belonging. You only have to spend a few bucks and everybody makes you feel welcome.” The historic settings also caught her eye. “I loved that concept of being in a beautiful space,” she says. “In cafés that have been there for hundreds of years.”
After returning to Canada and feeling drained by a deskbound finance job, Olsen says her imagination continued to be captured by old-world café culture while big-brand coffeehouses were just taking flight.