Since June 15, 2022 Ferah Çağoğlu (pronounced Cha-wow-lu) and her team have been brightening the lives of those who come into their café with freshly baked simit or Turkish bagels, pağaçam, cheese-filled pastry pockets a nd açma, light pastry with a filling.
Although there has been immense support from the local community, The Crushed Almond did not have the easiest start. Çağoğlu, owner of the building where her café currently resides, was originally planned on renting out the space. For years it had housed many different businesses, and every time there was a new tenant, she thought about her café dream. Two weeks before her newest tenant was to move in, Çağoğlu made the decision to use the space for her own bakery.
“Whenever it felt like I was at a dead end, something wonderful happened. Maybe I met wonderful people. Strangers who became good friends,” Çağoğlu said.
“I’ve been cooking all my life. My mom was a single mom. And I grew up [with the] love to cook. I remember her teaching me how to make something Oh, just, you know, I fell in love. I love food. And I love entertaining people,” Çağoğlu said.
Every day at the Crushed Almond brings in a new special feature, a menu item that is only available for a limited time. In July, yogurt cake, a sweet treat meant to gather people was the feature. It is similar to lemon-scented cheesecakes however it is lighter and has a fresher flavor. The dish can be enjoyed both warm and cold, usually with a topping of berries or pistachios.
What may be more impressive than the grassroots beginnings of the Crushed Almond is the fact that Çağoğlu is a self-taught baker. She had learned to watch her mother and other relatives in the kitchen when they would make family meals. Baking full-time was always something that she had always wanted to pursue, but never knew where to start.
“It just happened. I wasn’t permanently anywhere; I was on contract. And I wasn’t happy. Even though I could do all sorts of stuff on my time. I really didn’t want to do that. I knew that I just wanted to do something on my own and just something that again like to be with people,” Çağoğlu said.
All of the café’s sweet and savory treats are her labors of love and passion. They are her love language, the way she connects with the people around her. The café’s premier specialty is the handmade baklava. Its primary ingredients being crushed almonds, sugar, butter and most importantly, lots of love! Loyal customers are raving at how she serves the best version of this delicacy in the region.
Çağoğlu decided to quit her job of many years in order to pursue her dream of owning a Turkish bakery. She had always wanted to create a space for people in her community to gather and bond over a nice cup of tea. The interior of the Crushed Almond is both simple and elegant in its appearance, similar to the baked good offered inside. Its white walls are adorned with modern black shelves that offer Turkish oils, teas and other delicacies provided by local partners of the café. Much of the café’s equipment had been either thrifted or purchased second-hand. Çağoğlu wanted to facilitate a space for the community by the community. As well, she wanted to share the flavours of her childhood with the people of KW Region.