Meet Paul

From: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

Paul: From banking to brewing 

Canadians are better able to make day-to-day choices about how to spend their money and stay on top of financial obligations when they’re armed with financial knowledge, skills and confidence. Meet one Canadian whose financial know-how is one part professional and one part personal.

For as long as he can remember, Paul Foster has been obsessed with money. Even at the tender age of three, he remembers trundling along the neighbourhood, scavenging for pinecones and selling them for $3. His mother was mortified, and would scold the young entrepreneur, saying “you can't sell just pinecones to your neighbours!” But actually, he did. 

“Most people just saw the gumption and the ingenuity,” says Paul. "They just thought it was the cutest thing in the world.” Cute and determined.

Early financial lessons

Paul came by his business savvy, growing up in a home where finances were discussed openly. Save, save, save was the mantra.

“I was one of five kids, so for us there was never an abundance of money but there was always financial security. My parents always were very proactive on savings. They always worked on making sure that they didn’t just rely on their pension,” says Paul. “They wanted to make sure that they had investments and back-ups in case there [were] shortfalls.”

Career in banking

With those early lessons in mind, Paul went into the banking industry. For nine years, he helped clients manage their money, or more to the point, their debt, something Canadians are carrying these days in record numbers. He saw many clients lose everything.

“My experience with debt is that people start dealing with it when it's too late. People will get to the point where they're at 105% of their borrowing capacity, over [their] limit, they're overextended, and they're just in such a negative position that eventually they buckle and they try to get help.” 

His true passion

Perhaps it was because of the devastation he saw, or his own commitment to paying the bills helping to support his wife and two children and growing their nest egg by putting money aside, that his dream of leaving the bank to start his own business grew stronger.   

“The focus was to develop a business. There was no dissuading me of which way I was going. I was going to do my business. I just had to do it responsibly."

From bean counter to bean counter

Paul began pursuing his dream of becoming a coffee roaster by sourcing green coffee beans from around the world and roasting them in a popcorn maker at home. 

“Within days and I'd be able to cook it, bring it to work, and drink it with my buddies,” recalls Paul. “I plotted out […] the demand for my product and the amount of time I was spending to deliver it, roast it, and produce it. I’d go out and deliver the coffee before I’d go to work, and then I’d go from work back home to roast my coffee, and then wake up and do the same thing again."

Today, Paul is a master coffee roaster and owner of the Poppa-Bean Coffee Company, having left the bank to pursue his passion full-time. 

Why coffee

You can find Paul’s business tucked away in his home garage in Vars, Ontario, just outside Ottawa. The place is stacked full of roasting equipment and burlap bags filled with imported coffee beans. The smell is divine. Aside from supplying local coffee shops in town, Paul also sells his coffee at local farmers’ markets.

“Coffee is a great social product. People never come up and buy coffee from you where they're unhappy or dissatisfied.” 

Paul's advice

Paul’s advice to anyone with a dream of starting their own business, or simply living a more financially stable life? “I'd tell people to look at their life of borrowing as the entire spectrum from as early as you can, to when you forecast yourself being able to retire. As an employee [or a business owner] it's [about] what will I need to be able to maintain the quality of life that I have now, and be able to take that into my golden years.” 

Related tools

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