The Helmsmen - A Conversation with Geoff Linden
We live in a great city, filled with passionate and driven individuals who aren’t afraid to take risks. Being in retail, we have the privilege of interacting with these people every day, getting to know them professionally and personally.
From construction to cappuccinos
Geoff Linden, of Credo Coffee, is our man of the hour. Geoff is known for spearheading the downtown coffee scene, and laying the foundation for the “coffee culture” that Edmonton is known for.
His reputation as "the godfather of coffee" made our choice easy when deciding who to feature in the first edition of our "Helmsmen" series.
Born in the UK, Geoff’s family relocated to Saskatoon when he was young. It was there that he would eventually meet his wife of 31 years - Joanne. As a young man, Geoff did his training to become a journeyman cabinetmaker here in Edmonton. Ultimately, the two decided to call Edmonton home, raising their two sons Andrew and Chris, who are both very much involved in the family business.
Now how did this man become the coffee guru that he is today, you ask? Well, Geoff eventually traded in his tool belt for an espresso tamper and dove into the hospitality business, becoming a partner at Three Bananas Cafe in Churchill square. Geoff and Joanne preemptively envisioned the potential growth of Edmonton’s downtown, and decided to open their own coffee shop 7 ½ years ago on 104th street.
We put Geoff in some holiday outfits, sat down with him, and had a conversation.
Chad – Why did you choose downtown?
Geoff – Joanne and I like to travel, and every city we visited over the years had a vibrant downtown. We wanted Edmonton to have the same thing, and we wanted to be part of it when it happened.
Chad – Why did you choose 104th street over other downtown streets?
Geoff – We knew about 104th street and the Icon towers, which was actually the last job I estimated before I quit my previous job. So we knew the contacts, and Joanne had been talking about 104th street being a great location for a couple of years already.
Chad – You came from the construction industry, what were you doing?
Geoff – I did estimates and bidding on projects for a millwork subtrade. We would do cabinets for hospitals, schools and condo buildings.
Chad – Do you remember your eureka moment, when you realized that you wanted to step into the coffee business?
Geoff – Yup, it was one of those times-in-your-life moments where it was now or never, take a shot, and be prepared to fail. We had the idea that coffee shops do fail and we were prepared for that. We gave it a two-year window to try something that we’ve always wanted to do and went for it. Even when we were in Saskatoon, Joanne and I would drive around and point out different locations that we thought would be cool for a coffee shop. We did the same when we came to Edmonton. Whyte avenue sure, but it had already been done and we wanted somewhere different.
Alana – Why the name Credo?
Geoff – We were driving through the mountains en route to Vancouver, and during the drive we knew we wanted to open something, so we were tossing around names. Ritual came up, and few more, but most were taken. Joanne then threw out the name Credo - because of the connection with what we wanted to bring to the business, what our belief system was towards our product and the people producing it. It just fit.
Chad – When you need your caffeine fix, what do you make for yourself?
Geoff - Espresso (no hesitation), I have two in the morning before I head out - one before my breakfast and one after.
Chad – So what’s happening in Geoff’s social life over the holiday season? Any parties or event’s planned?
Geoff – We have our annual Credo party! That's always something we look forward to. We’ll also go to Joanne’s musical at the school and probably the symphony in December.
What we have him in.
Geoff describes himself as fairly casual, but with his work party and symphony coming up in December he’s willing to step out of his comfort zone with some Helm holiday formalwear picks. For the Credo staff party, we have Geoff in a Gabriele Pasini Dinner jacket, Helm collection shirt and Ralph Lauren Polo distressed jeans. For his symphony date night with Joanne, he’s going a little more formal in a Pal Zileri black suit, white Stenstrom’s shirt and Ferretti tie.
Party on Geoff!