When vegan shop Auntie Loo’s Treats closed in 2015, head baker Josephine Masterson knew she wasn’t ready to stop making goodies. With her specialty baking training and her big brother Jimmy as plumber and business partner, Masterson opened Little Jo Berry’s Coffee & Eats in Wellington West in spring of 2016.
“I had always wanted to have my own little coffee shop,” she says. “I mean, free lattes for life!” Veritably vegan, Little Jo Berry’s offers visions of how food without meat or dairy can be truly amazing. From not-so-little pastries to satisfying meals, Little Jo dishes out pulled “pork” and cashew cheese hand pies, burrito pizzas, deep-fried mac and cheese, and a rainbow of poptarts for every craving: mint chocolate, lemon meringue, chocolate strawberry, and s’mores, among others. The owner steers the whole operation, from her recipes to the Instagram feed, with genuine delight and warmth.
But Masterson has also learned to see the big picture. “Most importantly, I have learned to be nice to everyone you work with every day: staff, customers, suppliers — whoever you deal with,” she says. “It makes such a beautiful, positive environment.” Which is exactly what you’ll find at Little Jo Berry’s.
What is always in your fridge?
I try to always keep Vegan Magic in my fridge. It’s vegan bacon grease from Toronto that my bud makes and sends my way. We sell it at the shop, and I literally put it on everything at home!
Favourite coffee shop? CC’s Corner in beautiful Richmond, Ontario.
What is always in your pantry? Chips — fancy ones from the Herb & Spice Wellington.
Recipes to experiment with? Anything that makes people feel nostalgic — recipes that excite and comfort folks.
Your new discovery? Side braids and the vegan delivery menu at Wei’s Noodle House.
Local bakery? Little Jo Berry’s, obviously!
Ottawa restaurant? Sushi Umi. They treat me like a king. Their sushi is spiritual.
Spice? Baby Spice — she’s the cutest.
Tea? Matcha by Tealee Ottawa. Love it in doughnuts and smoothies.
Kitchen aroma? Peppermint Halo by Sage Wellness. We always keep a staff bottle for stressful days.
Healthy snack? Solid draw between Renew Cold Press Juice and Uncle Dave’s Friggin Booch. I’m literally obsessed with both. Nicest business owners in the city. Also both babes.
Not-so-healthy snack? I don’t want to label any specific foods as unhealthy. We try to avoid food shaming at the shop. Eat what makes you feel good, whatever that is.