Coffee and sustainability: How coffee shops in Kelowna are changing the game
The coffee scene in Kelowna is being redefined by a few roasters who are putting quality coffee and sustainability at the forefront of their businesses.
Craft 42 Roasters and Anarchy Coffee Roasters are passionate about good coffee, made ethically and sold with the environment in mind.
"Our big thing here is sustainability across the board and that starts with the green beans that we purchase. We try to do that as ethically as we can and that involves an importer and we make sure that we pick our importers wisely and that they have good standards. We also make sure that coffee producers are getting what they deserve for their hard work," Bailey Mitchell of Anarchy Coffee Roasters says.
"On the home front, we try to make the specialty coffee approachable to everyone in Kelowna and abroad. We also try to have compostable or recyclable materials in the shop so we're not only trying to be sustainable on the purchasing side of things but also environmentally."
They also go as far as partnering with local organizations to donate part of their profits. For every bag of coffee they sell, they take a dollar and put it back into the community.
"There's quite an unfortunate situation with people being unhoused so we try to put some money into the hands of people that need it more than we do," Mitchell says. "Right now, we work with a local group called Solidarity Sundays that goes out to the tent city every Sunday to give them food. So, we give them some money and coffee to help out with their work."
Craft 42 is also a local roaster that prides itself on its sustainable model. It's the love of quality coffee that inspires this business to make coffee accessible and sustainable.
They do tastings at their shop so customers can figure out which coffee they like and then head roaster Aaron Moore provides all the information they need to take the beans home to make their own coffee.
"The goal is to have people make good coffee at home not just go out and buy it in a cup, but also make it at home and reduce any sort of waste with all the cups that are going out and also the service factor, it's easier just to make a delicious cup of coffee at home," Craft 42 owner Taylor MacInnis says.
The whole space was designed with this idea in mind. It's more sustainable for people to make their own coffee at home. It encourages people to get to know what quality coffee is and in the long run, it's more affordable.
"We also wanted to take away from the 'here's a cup of coffee, take it and walk away' versus the sit down and have a conversation about it and so that's how we came up with this whole idea of a space, MacInnis says.
"This allows us to have a conversation with people and be like 'this is the coffee, this is what it can taste like, this is how you can brew it at home, this is how we roast it here.' It's all about the coffee, all about the farms and all about the farmers. We really want those conversations to be available to our clients as opposed to just selling them a cup of coffee to go."
Even though the business is focused on getting coffee beans into people's houses, they still make coffee for those who would rather enjoy it in the coffee shop or on the go.
On that end, sustainability is a priority for everything, from the beans that they use and the way the farmers are treated to the materials used to make their coffee cups and bags.
"When it came to cups and lids, everything is compostable, and our bags are transitioning from being recyclable to compostable and everything that we purchase - aside from the beans - is manufactured in Canada which allows us to reduce our carbon footprint and not have to reach out to China," MacInnis says.
"The labour factor is also really important to us. We don't want our products to be made by people who are poorly treated at work. So this company we get our bags from probably costs us five to seven times more than most coffee companies would pay, so we pay $2 for each bag instead of cents, but we feel really good about that because we know the labour laws here are much more strict than those in China for example.
"The farmers are really important to us and the type of coffee we get. It's not commodity coffee like you would get at Tim Horton's where massive coffee planting and farming is happening. It's more specialized and a lot more goes into the farming and the inquiry of the farming and making sure the farmers are treated well and not getting ripped off, so it's fair trade but I think it's even more than that because we make sure the workers get treated well."
This type of business model for coffee shops has been getting popular in Kelowna. Places like Bean Scene and Bright Jenny have been leading the way, but other coffee shops such as Rifugio Coffee Roasters and Model Bean are also places that roast their own coffee and keep sustainability in mind.
MacInnis believes there's a place for more of these coffee shops in Kelowna and the Okanagan and she seems hopeful that it will happen thanks to the general sense of collaboration there is between these businesses.
"I think there's room for more of this in Kelowna," she says. "There are a couple of roasters doing a fantastic job already that have led the way but there's room for more of what we're trying to do here. Especially knowing that Kelowna has the most Starbucks per capita in Canada which is also commodity coffee.
"So far, the roasters doing this in Kelowna are trying to work together instead of competing against each other and I think that can create great things and inspire more people and businesses to follow this model."
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