In ten words or less, what’s so special about your products?
We’re about excellent coffee and community.
Intriguing. Tell us more.
We got into coffee because we love coffee. It’s always been part of our life. When we were first dating, when we had to make big decisions, when we just went for a walk, there was always coffee.
Then, when I was liberated from my corporate job in 2017, we moved to Wolfe Island, purchased a rural property and started to transform our big barn into an event location.
At the same time, my husband, just the most curious human on the planet, got his hands on green coffee beans and started roasting them in our old popcorn maker. It really all started there; we learned, we got better equipment, and when we felt our coffee was worth sharing, we gave samples to family and friends.
For us, coffee has always been about connecting people, which continues to be a massive part of our motivation.
Your coffees taste fantastic. Where do you get your flavour inspiration from?
When we started getting serious about turning our hobby into a business, we ordered samples of many different micro coffees. It was a revelation; we had no idea that coffee could taste this amazing. The first time we looked at each other and could both taste blueberry in our coffee, it blew our minds. It’s an adventure, and we’re still as excited about discovering new flavours as we were initially.
Many people dream about starting a food or drinks business. How did you launch yours? What's the story behind your business?
There came a time when we decided that we wanted to take our interest from hobby to business. The first thing we did was to figure out of a coffee roastery would be allowed on our property, and thankfully the zoning made it possible.
We did have to make sure that we had all the necessary permits and licenses lined up. Many webinars and events on offer will help you learn all about these and how to make sure that you’re operating your food business within the law.
We also spoke to as many people as possible in person. It’s one thing to read a document, but you learn so much more if you actually talk to the health inspector or your electrician who’s getting your wiring ESL approved. It helped us avoid costly mistakes, and I really recommend doing this.
After we got the paperwork out of the way, it was full steam ahead. One of the first things we defined was the “why” behind the operation, which has always been around the idea of community and connection for both of us. That’s what has been motivating us ever since.
When you first launched your business, how did you pay for everything? How much did it cost to launch your own food business?
We paid for everything from savings, which is scary but means that you’re not beholden to the bank or another lender. We planned everything out very carefully before making the jump, but in the end, you’re always flying by the seat of your pants to some degree.
Did you receive any help from Frontenac Business Services?
Absolutely. The big thing they offer is access to information, advice, even grants, to everything that makes the launching of a business just that little bit easier.
Where are you now? Where is your business going?
We’re a micro-roastery. We launched just before the pandemic, which has been affecting our business’s growth, but we’re pushing through it.
We launched a website for direct sales, which we’re working on increasing. We are also selling on farmer’s markets and offering local free delivery, which is a bit like selling wholesale, and we’re selling in a handful of local stores.
Eventually, I’d love to own a truck that we can take places, to offer a boutique experience that’s designed to build human connections. That’s very much part of what and who we are; the coffee is meaningless without interactions.
What's so special about doing business in Frontenac?
The people and the community. Everybody helps each other, and so many people around here are really into supporting the local food economy and each other. It’s a great place to live and build a business.
And of course, there are nature and hiking trails and the opportunity to refresh and relax in a natural setting.
Finally, do you have a checklist that you could share, your top three tips to keep in mind when starting a food business? Things you wished you would have known yourself.
Understand the requirements of your business before launching it. That’s essential if you want to avoid too many costly mistakes.
And talk to people build community and connections. Other businesses, the team from Frontenac Business Services, they’ve all been really helpful. Make the most of what’s on offer and always reach out.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.