Coffee Partner – Rooftop Roasters
Here at Island Lake Lodge, we are always on the lookout for like-minded and local companies to partner with. With coffee being such an important part of our guests’ start to the day, we needed to find a top-notch product for the lodges. We found this with Rooftop Coffee Roasters and recently chatted with them about their business and coffee.
- When did you guys move to Fernie? We moved to Fernie in December 2013.
- What brought you here in the first place? The skiing! Our family has been skiing in Fernie for over a decade; driving down from Calgary every weekend like so many others. In 2013, we decided to try out spending an entire winter in Fernie, since (our children) Keegan and his sister were both ski racing here at the time. Once spring came around, there was no way we were going back to Calgary; we were hooked. The temporary move became permanent and we’ve been in Fernie ever since.
- Whose idea was it to start roasting coffee? Keegan got us home roasting in the first place. We’d all fallen in love with Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters back in Calgary. They focus on lighter roasted coffee and highlight the provenance of their beans and the relationships formed with the farmers. Keegan discovered the thriving community of home roasters online and it was an obvious next step. He bought a small electric home roaster and a couple pounds of green coffee and we quickly fell in love with it.
- Where do your beans come from? We work with importers based in Vancouver and California. They source coffee from all over the world. Currently, we offer coffee from Colombia, Peru, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Kenya, Burundi, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Panama, Brazil, Uganda and Guatemala.
- How long does it take to roast a batch? It depends on the coffee, but usually between 11 and 14 minutes.
- What is your philosophy on coffee roasting? When we roast, we try to give a representation of how the coffee was produced. The distinct, unique flavours we love are imparted into coffee by the soil, the farm and the way it was processed, so we try to let that shine through as much as possible. We also do not try to tailor our coffee to any brewing method in particular. We find every coffee has its own unique “sweet spot” and we try to uncover that.
- Where do you want to be as a business in a year? We are focusing our attention on how we source coffee. Currently, coffee prices are not covering costs of production and are not providing farmers with a living income. Some importers are diving deeper into how their buying practices impact the livelihoods of farmers. They’re re-structuring their pricing models so farmers can live off coffee agriculture. In a year, we hope to primarily offer coffees from importers like these, since we are not yet at the size where we can travel to farms and do that work ourselves.
- What makes a good cup of joe? What we look for in coffee is balance. We like coffee that has interesting, unique acidity as well as smooth, sweet body. However, the answer to this question will vary from person to person. That’s why we’ve chosen to offer a wide variety of flavour profiles; we have something for every preference. For example, our blends are designed to help bring people over to our world of lighter-roasted, exotic coffees. Their flavours are made to be approachable and familiar but with a little twist.
- Anything else you want to add in? Fernie has played such an important role in shaping our coffee company. This lighter style of roasting is new to the area, which has long been dominated by darker-roasted coffee. We’ve had to adjust our approach without straying from the style we wanted to offer. As a result, we’ve been able to appeal to cafes in the bigger cities, without leaving our community behind. This created a coffee that is a reflection of Fernie, and that has been immensely rewarding.