As the legendary story goes, Honoré de Balzac’s copious consumption of black coffee is what fuelled many endless nights composing great literature. But his shrewd declaration, “the café is the people’s parliament,” is what defines the spirit of Balzac’s Coffee Roasters. For President and Founder, Diana Olsen, the desire to capture this sentiment was first piqued when she was 18 and reveling in the Grand Cafés of Paris.

From the time Diana opened the first café in Stratford, Ontario in 1996, Balzac’s cafés have been built for the diverse people and communities they serve. By celebrating the history and culture that defines each distinct location, each café has carved out a unique personality as a central gathering place for locals to converse, share, ruminate and create. Bolstered by Diana’s entrepreneurial will and creative vision, Balzac’s has grown to 14 locations across Ontario, proving that providing a place for people to drink excellent coffee in the authentic French tradition has an appeal that is everlasting.

THE TEAM

Balzac's Coffee Founder and President Diana Olsen

Diana Olsen

PRESIDENT & FOUNDER

While earning a university degree in French literature, Diana Olsen, President and Founder of Balzac’s, discovered a kindred spirit in Monsieur Balzac and his genuine passion for coffee. Upon graduating, she immersed herself in authentic French culture, spending a year and a half in France. Passing many enchanting afternoons in the Grand cafés of Paris, Ms. Olsen was inspired to bring this sophisticated celebration of coffee and social tradition home to Canada.

San Francisco was her next stop in 1993, to learn the craft of coffee roasting and bean selection at the West Coast Specialty Coffee Training Institute. In 1996, the first Balzac’s café was opened in Stratford, Ontario. Today, Diana oversees all aspects of café operations and coffee roasting from the Balzac’s Roastery in Ancaster, Ontario.

STEVE JANZEN

GENERAL MANAGER

Originally from Calgary, Steve Janzen spent 20 years in the Hospitality Industry before his love of coffee brought him to Balzac’s. His experience working in larger companies, including Intrawest and the Jim Pattison Group, along with Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Certification, was a good fit to bring to the growing company. Steve joined the team in 2013 (7 cafés) and has played a key leadership role in guiding the company and its infrastructure from its small company roots into its current growth phase.

WILL THORBURN

DIRECTOR OF COFFEE

Our Director of Coffee Will Thorburn comes to Balzac’s with over 10 years of experience in the Canadian coffee industry. Starting out as a Barista, Will began his career in a local community coffee shop before moving on to the premier Calgary-based company Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters. As one of their first hires, Will trained and worked directly with Phil Robertson and Sebastian Sztabzyb as they made their splash on the Calgary coffee scene in early 2007. Eventually moving to Ontario, Will took up residency as a Barista with Detour Coffee Roasters in Dundas before becoming their full-time Production Roaster, logging a few thousand hours roasting on their Loring S35 Kestrel. After leaving Detour, Will began consulting for local coffee companies before eventually signing on with Balzac’s as Director of Coffee, responsible for all quality control and production in our new, state-of-the-art roasting facility in Ancaster, ON.

H.Q.

Frances Kustec

Finance Manager

KELLY DUFFY

Director of WHOLESALE

Steven Rea

Director of Technology

RYAN MENDOZA

Accounting & Payroll Supervisor

JUSTINE MULDER

Accounts Payable & Receivable Coordinator

Liz Van Hoffen

Accounting & Administration

Farah Haddad

Administration

Roastery

Chris Johnston

Roaster

Dave Coventry

Packaging & Production

Managers

FABIOLA SILANDER

REGIONAL MANAGER, TORONTO

CATHY SEGEREN

STRATFORD & REGIONAL MANAGER, WEST

VANESSA HENDERSON

DISTILLERY DISTRICT

KAYLA LARSEN

LIBERTY VILLAGE

mel stanford

KITCHENER

RACHEL WRIGHTON

NIAGARA-ON-The-Lake & Port dalhousie

ISAAC WINTER

REFERENCE LIBRARY

SUSAN SWAIN

RYERSON IMAGE ARTS

KATIE WHITE

GUELPH & Waterloo

Morgann Lomascolo

UP Express

robert downes

kingston

Partnerships

In 2011, Ms. Olsen appeared on CBC Television’s popular show The Dragon’s Den to seek strategic investors to generate capital for the Reference Library and Ryerson café locations as well as to help generate future growth. The successful pitch resulted in both Arlene Dickinson and Bruce Croxon investing in the company. Today, they offer strategic coaching and counselling to every level of operations as well as sitting on the Board of Directors.

Arlene Dickinson

District Ventures Capital

Arlene Dickinson is one of Canada’s most renowned independent marketing communications entrepreneurs. As CEO of Venture Communications, her creative and strategic approach has turned the company into a powerhouse with a blue chip client list. She is also the CEO of YouInc.com, a company she founded in 2012 that is dedicated to serving and investing in entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurial lifestyle.