Earlier this month, Canadian company Canoe Coffee Roasters packed up and portaged on to a new, larger facility where retail and production are finally paddling from the same boat.
The company’s previous 400-square-foot production facility, from which it roasted the goods served through the window of a charming vintage mobile trailer, is now closed. Production has shifted exclusively into a new 500-square-foot space visible through windows from an attached 800-square-foot brick-and-mortar cafe in Kelowna, British Columbia.
Canoe Founder Dave Upshaw told Daily Coffee New that the trailer will live on for special events in the Okanagan summers, and that the company’s original 5-kilo Ambex roaster will continue braving rapids at max capacity until this Spring.
“It’s been awesome, but we’ve just outgrown it,” said Upshaw. “So we’re upgrading to a 15-kilo Mill City roaster that’s currently on its way.”
The new retail facility balances cool, tidy and industrial feel with warm accents and materials. Clean white walls and a concrete floor reflect plenty of the daylight streaming through through a bay-door windows, while a stained birch bulkhead of lighting above blue and white-tile-fronted bar exude a welcoming coziness.
“We wanted the cafe to be simple, clean, and minimal because that’s what our coffee is all about,” said Upshaw. “We also wanted to avoid the space feeling cold and sterile, so we thought a funky, eclectic bar front would be the perfect addition. It adds some interest and feels kind of like it was plucked out of your grandma’s house, so we loved it right away.”
On that bar, a custom white powder-coated 2-group La Marzocco Linea is paired with Mahlkonig K30 and Mazzer Major grinders for the espresso menu, while an EK43 supports a selection of brews prepared by hand, by Technivorm small batch or by Wilbur Curtis commercial batch brews.
The Technivorms come into play for medium and lighter-roasted single-origin coffees while a requisite dark roast, affectionately called the “burnt canoe” offering, is brewed in larger batches. The latter is based on one particular bean from Peru that Upshaw said they still send to the cooling tray on the lighter end of dark.
“We’ve found it to be really smooth and crowd-pleasing, while still being interesting when roasted on the darker side,” Upshaw said of the Peruvian coffee. “We wanted something that suited the flavor profile for people that are used to drinking dark roast, but also wanted some of that origin flavour to shine through.”
Upshaw, who spent five years working as a barista in the Kelowna and Vancouver areas prior to launching Canoe in 2015, was also “an enthusiastic but very unsophisticated” home roaster before going pro. Each step, from the hand-cranked drum over a grill up to the 5-kilo Ambex, and then from a backyard shed to the first small but proper roastery, were all exciting milestones.
Said Upshaw, “Now that we have a beautiful, bustling café, we really want to work on building some of the other cool aspects of our business.”
Canoe Coffee Roasters is now located at 984 Laurel Avenue in Kelowna, British Columbia.