Hey Happy Coffee adds booze to its new summer menu

Hey Happy Coffee adds booze to its new summer menu

Hey Happy Coffee is a local coffee shop that serves internationally roasted coffees, specialty drinks, unique flavoured pastries, and artistic breakfast and lunch dishes that will make you take out your phone and take a picture to share with your friends on social media. Rob Kettner opened Hey Happy in 2014, and what began as just a one-room coffee shop, has now expanded to a contemporary casual eat-in restaurant with a varied food menu. The summer menu features many new refreshing flavours and chilled specialty drinks, alongside newly introduced wine, beer, and spirits, offering a host of summer cocktails.   

The Summer Menu

The summer menu launched in late May, in the spirit of an even ‘happier’ Hey Happy. “We might as well add to it and make it happier,” Rob says. “We wanted to keep being inspired and creative and not get complacent.” Rob and a few veteran mixologists, who are regulars at the shop came up with a menu offering local beers, natural wines, and specialty cocktails. 

Happy Happy features the Vancouver Island brews raspberry golden sour and Mexican lagers, made by Île Sauvage, a company that brews Belgian-style wild ales and sour beers.

The natural wine they are serving is from Averill Creek and includes white rosé and piquettes, a naturally sparkling canned wine made by recycling the leftover skins, seeds, and stems of grapes and fermenting the leftover sugars to create natural carbonation made by the byproduct of wine.

All cocktails feature a twist for the coffee enthusiast. Rob focused on incorporating a coffee component that brings a new dimension to the cocktail tradition. Rob’s favourite drink, the Casapara Caipirinha is made with a Brazilian spirit called cashaça, while the coffee taste comes from the cascara simple syrup that Hey Happy makes for the sugar component. “Cascara is the coffee cherry, the fruit that surrounds the bean, but it’s dried and then it’s steeped as a tea. So that is infused in the simple syrup.” Rob explains. 

The honey bourbon latte is made with bourbon, honey, espresso, and steamed milk for a bourbon lover’s dream.

The cold brew negroni adds another layer to the classic negroni by adding gin, Campari, Cinzano Rosso, with natural coffee. 

Another great example is a twist on their popular non-alcoholic, house-made dirty horchata summer drink. The frozen rum and espresso horchata is made with Bacardi-spiced rum. “It’s fun, right? Using coffee as an ingredient and trying to create super tasty things with it and not necessarily using it from a purist sense,” Rob says.

If you’re teetotal, other bestselling summer refreshers include the frozen dirty horchata made with house-made rice milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cane sugar, with a double shot of espresso. Their most popular drink is the coconut milk iced latte made with double shot espresso, coconut milk, and house-made oat milk over ice. Another slushy favourite is the blueberry lemonade. 

Their baked goods, available all day, are displayed in a glass cube at the front of the cafe, showing baker Lindsey’s creations, like cookies and the ever-changing pop tarts and old-school cruller donuts. The popular homemade pop tarts change with the season coming in both savoury and sweet options like broccoli cheddar and strawberry rhubarb. The cruller donuts are made fresh every day with flavours that rotate seasonally for a variety of new options to try as regulars love the same environment with new creations. 

The summer menu includes the popular re-releasing of the Banh mi, which includes pickled daikon, carrots, and cucumber with fresh herbs and hoisin sriracha mayo with your choice of chicken or fried tofu. 

Bahn mi

Try their bestseller breakfast options alongside a morning coffee, like the breakfast sandwich, Hey Hash, or the sweet and savoury toast options are available until 3pm. The Bahn mi and crispy chicken sandwiches keep the lunch crowds coming back while vegan options like the happy power bowl and happy salad allow for vegans to indulge. 

Hey Hash

The Inspiration  

Rob’s passion for coffee started when he co-owned a roasting company called Fernwood Coffee Company in 2017. After leaving Fernwood, in 2012, Rob opened up his own coffee shop in 2014 and called it Hey Happy, inspired by the Winnipeg film Hey, Happy!. “The name itself was intended to bring a smile to someone’s face when they read it or said it,” Rob says. Rob is no slouch behind the bar. He took the top spot in a Canadian Barista championship in 2010.

Hey Happy started out serving only coffee. Later, the place expanded with a pour-over bar and specialty drinks, including espresso mint julep, coconut milk iced latte with authentic Thai-style coconut milk, and mocha with real chocolate ganache. “We weren’t inventing something new, we were just bringing what was happening in some of the bigger markets here to Victoria.” 

The specialty drinks were inspired by the coffee scene in Europe and Scandinavia with a dash of fun right out of LA. It became a fun and colourful take for serious coffee drinkers but with a lighthearted touch. 

The Coffee

Rob wants the customer’s coffee experience to be fresh, varied, and exciting. He buys his coffee from roasters that use in-season coffee beans from around the world. Hey Happy specializes in high-quality specialty coffee, grown at high altitudes. “We like to drink the coffees that are at the peak of their season, and the roasters that we work with, that’s their mindset”. 

In November of 2021, Hey Happy introduced coffee subscriptions that can be found on the company website. It’s for customers who really enjoy the quality and variety of the ever-changing roasts. “It’s pretty basic right now. You’re getting incredible coffee sent to you every month, but it’s going to be so much more as we go along.” Rob affirms, as he has future plans to incorporate more interactions, brew guides, and special gifts and treats to expand the subscription pack. “With our subscriptions, you’re getting a procured list.” The current subscription drops off Hey Happy’s favourite coffees from the current menu at your doorstep. “[Customers] are getting the coffees that we give a double thumbs up to!” Rob reveals. 

The Food

Hey Happy started serving food in 2019, 3 weeks before COVID-19 hit. “We want our food to be delicious, we want it to be easy, we don’t want it to be pretentious. We want it to also be designable.” Rob expanded Hey Happy from a quaint quick-stop coffee shop to a two-room space. He used the extra space to build a kitchen and added a funky space to hang out designed by Bidgood & Company. It’s done in pastel pinks, and blues, with yellow highlighting in a modernist shape and style—a decor to highlight its cheery name. “Hey Happy is a celebration of design” Rob states. The indoor seating invites the sun from big front windows, to warm the wooden, curved benches, single booths, and circle cutouts inviting customers to immerse themselves in total coffee euphoria. Its outdoor seating was donated by the city during COVID-19 re-echoing the interior with coloured shapes and long wooden benches, creating a pastel palace for people to enjoy unique eats and exciting drinks. This bright and relaxing hangout coffee shop allows for a creative, bright, lighthearted atmosphere where you’ll see customers on the run grabbing a coffee during their busy day, seated alone immersed in their writing or reading alongside their morning or afternoon coffee, and families and friends catching up.

“Everything is a collaboration, especially from the food side, honestly, I give that to my kitchen.” Rob gives both Josh, the head chef, and Lindsey the head baker the freedom to create the dishes and flavours of the food menu. “They both just understand what the vibe we’re putting out is and what the culture is. There’s gotta be a component of fun, there’s gotta be the component of deliciousness.”  “Hey Happy is more than just ingredients, its also just meant to be an all-around experience.” With 3 menus that include gluten-free and vegan options and an atmosphere with its own individual vibe, Hey Happy is here to wake you up and put a smile on your face during one of your downtown walks. 

Try their summer menu on the patio or enjoy the artistic architecture inside for a fun, relaxed, and creative hangout Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm or Saturday to Sunday 9am to 5pm. 

122-560 Johnson St. 

Written by

Annika Olson

Intern at Tasting Victoria