Monday, 29 October 2012

Monday Feature: Bean There Roasting Company

There's something about awakening from slumber, wrapping yourself in a warm robe or sweater, shuffling out to the kitchen, brewing a mug of your favourite coffee, and then sitting, inhaling deep the pleasant aroma of the hot beverage sitting between your cold fingers, warming you to the bone. It's true delight and something many of us look forward to each and every morning. Since becoming pregnant and having a wee one, I have reduced my coffee intake to, well, almost never. But I treasure the days when I get to enjoy the rich, delightful taste of this well beloved drink.

My husband is, I wouldn't say picky, but picky, when it comes to the coffee he consumes, and rightfully so. He knows what he likes, how strong it needs to be, and nothing else will suffice. I know many people like this, it's nothing new to coffee lovers. One brand of coffee that we both adore immensely, is coffee from Bean There Roasting Company. I was first introduced to this amazing coffee when, at a silent auction, we bid on a basket of coffee and won! This entitled us to 9 different coffees from around the world, a new one roasted fresh and delivered to our door each week for 8 weeks (we had the first one at the auction to take home). It was so much fun to see what the next coffee would be, where it would be from and what it would taste like, comparing it to the others we'd tried, with all the different flavour notes. My absolute favourite is the coffee from Haiti. There just wasn't another one to compare, in my opinion. However, Hayden has an entirely different favourite one, Sumatra, so really, you just have to try them all to find that perfect one for you! :)

Brian Kannekens is creator, owner and operator of Bean There Roasting Company. Although I've only known him for a short time, my husband is no stranger to Brian and they have known each other for much longer. Brian is friendly, outgoing and knows what he's talking about when it comes to anything coffee. That's just the type of person you want to buy coffee from, in my opinion.

 <----------------- Brian is on the very left.
At the Zambian coffee farm.

Bean There Roasting Company is a small, home based business that "opened its door" in January of 2006. Brian notes, "Since that time, we have been fresh roasting and delivering coffee to our customers so that they can truly enjoy their daily cup of joe. The idea is simple. Fresh roast your coffee when you order it, and then deliver it as soon as possible at its peak freshness for you to enjoy."

That's right! No more dusty store shelf coffee that has been sitting there for who knows how long. Fresh roasted, just for you! Can I get an amen from all you coffeeaholics out there! :D 

Bean There Roasting Company was first created in 1996, after Brian and 3 others went on a missions trip to Zambia and Kenya, Africa. Brian recalls, "While we were there, we had numerous conversations about how the staff there were able to raise enough money to support their families, send their kids to school, and provide funding for their ministry opportunities. During those discussions, the four of us that were on the trip realized that even the full time staff members were not paid to be doing their ministry work, but were required to raise all of their support from supporters they were able to contact and have become part of their team. After discussing this on our trip home, the four of us decided to brainstorm business ideas that might be able to help provide some support for these friends we had met. Thankfully, [Bean There] has grown enough that we have been able to provide support to these friends twice a year to assist them with their expenses."

Bean There Roasting Company, itself, evolved from a discussion that revolved around something that could be home based, and that was able to be managed by just one person. "The idea for coffee came about as the result of one of our African friends' father-in-law, who was in the coffee business in Kenya. In our discussions, however, we really were looking for something that was unique in regards to coffee and how it was marketed and served. The idea of roasting and serving was nothing new, but when added to the delivery concept, we felt it was something totally unique that we could work on."

After Brian returned home from Africa, he was able to spend the next year doing extensive research and learning about coffee and the whole process of growing, harvesting, processing, shipping, and finally receiving the green beans and roasting them. Brian says, "This has been one of the most educational parts of having Bean There Roasting Company. It has really provided an opportunity to learn something new that is part of our world economy on a large scale, and part of people's everyday life on a much smaller scale."

Coffee plants in Zambia

Coffee plants on the horizon

Visiting Munali Coffee Farm in Zambia

Not only was the coffee side of the business part of the learning experience for Brian, but also setting up a small business and being able to run it successfully on a day to day basis. "This is an ongoing process that every small business owner experiences and something that I learn from every day."

After almost seven years, Brian's focus continues to be the individual customer and finding a coffee that they will enjoy as part of their day, just as mine is the Haiti and Hayden's is the Sumatra, although I'm open to trying some of the new additions. :)

"I really value the time spent speaking with customers about what types of coffees they like to drink, and trying to find one that we offer that fits into their profile. It is also fun to be able to educate people about the difference between Bean There's fresh roasted coffee, and what you buy at the grocery store or local gas station." Or if I may be so bold as to add….what you buy at Tim Hortons *whispered softly* :P

"Many customers have asked why our coffee is more expensive than what you find at the grocery store, and once I have helped them understand how delicate it is and that coffee is meant to be consumed shortly after roasting, they begin to understand that our product really is a premium offering, providing the best taste experience possible for the money they are spending."

And come on, many of us are willing to shell out $5 for one drink at Starbucks (I know I do), but refuse to pay a little bit more for better coffee for our consumption at home. Save your Starbucks (or Tim Hortons) pennies and buy some of Bean There's coffee and I guarantee, you won't be disappointed.

Talking with the farm owners

The bright red ones are ready for picking

Young coffee plants in the nursery

Bean There Roasting Company's list of coffees is always evolving and changing. While they do have some that are consistently available, they also have been able to find more "exotic" coffees to offer when they are available, and those are worth snapping up for sure!

"Recently, I have been able to offer Hawaii Kona,..." which is fantastic, by the way, "...Jamaica Blue Mountain, as well as coffee from the Galapagos Island and Indonesia. Two of the highlights of sourcing out new suppliers occurred when I was able to bring in coffee from Reunion Island, which is very rare, as well as the most expensive coffee in the world, Kopi Luwak. Yes, this is the stuff that is eaten by a cat and then processed and left on the ground to be collected, washed and shipped around the world." Remember Jack Nicolson drinking it in The Bucket List? I am curious enough to try it someday. "[Kopi Luwak] is also very rare, so to be able to find some was a real treat. It was very, very good!!" If Brian will drink it and in turn sell it, it's got to be good stuff.
"Some of our "regulars" include coffee from Brazil, Columbia, Peru, Costa Rica, Haiti (yum yum), Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Papua New Guinea, and Sumatra. My favourites are the African coffees, but more specifically anything that we have had from Ethiopia. Their flavour, body, and aroma to me are unsurpassed, and I will drink them anytime I have a chance to try different ones from different growing regions."

The washing and processing area

Where the coffee is dried

As you can clearly see, this is a small operation that offers a wide variety of quality coffee from around the world, thus supporting local farmers in those regions and helping out the world, one little bean at a time. It makes me smile with every sip.

A finished batch of roasted coffee

"One of the things I am most proud of, is the fact that the business has grown enough for me to be able to send the support we had hoped for, to our friends in Africa. Of course, this would not be possible without customers to whom I am very grateful. Being able to help people understand why what I do is different, has really made all the difference in our continued growth and success."

"It has also been great to meet so many new people through the business. Many of my customers have become friends as a result of the relationship built through their morning cup of coffee."

First roaster Brian started out with

Bean There's current roaster

Current roaster

The best way to contact Brian and Bean There Roasting Company, is by phone at 403-502-5833. Brian is very personable and wants to be able to talk to you, his newest customer, about exactly what you might be looking for in your coffee, whether it's something familiar or something exotic and new (Kopi Luwak anyone?) to find the perfect coffee for you that you will truly enjoy and look forward to. 

Bean There is currently in the process of setting up a website, but until that time, all orders can be made via phone. 

You can also follow Brian on Twitter @roastedfresh4U and stay updated on new coffees and where he might be selling his coffee on any given day.

Brian spends many of his Summer Saturdays at the Farmers Market, which is Bean There's "Summer store front." During this Christmas season, you can find Bean There Roasting Company at the Medicine Hat Exhibition's Christmas Market on November 9th & 10th at the Cypress Centre, as well as at the Last Chance Christmas Market on Thursday, December 6th, in the Auditorium of the Cypress Centre.

Last, but not least, we have a special Growing Green incentive for you! You won't want to miss out on this one if you love your coffee as much as we do.

When you call Bean There Roasting Company to make your coffee order, simply mention that you read about Bean There on the Growing Green blog, and you will receive a free 4 oz bag of coffee with every 16 oz (1 lb) bag of coffee ordered. The 4 oz bag will be a different type then what you have ordered and will be chosen by Brian for you to try. There's no better way to try more varieties then like this! This offer is valid from today, October 29th, 2012 until December 31st, 2012. 

Enjoy and cheers to you!

Next weeks' feature hint: bird lodging

 Set up for the Christmas Market

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