If you were one of the fortunate ones to attend Beanstock in Vancouver back in October than you probably found yourself at some point connecting with Jeremy from French Press Coffee Roasters! One of the storylines that seemed to emerge from that festival was a few of his coffees that quickly became crowd favourites.
This relatively new coffee shop & roaster has put down roots in the town of Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island. Now if you just googled where this is I don’t blame you. I had to do the same thing myself, and I grew up on the coast of BC. Qualicum Beach is located about 30 minutes north of Nanaimo or 2 hours north of Victoria. This sleepy beachside town is home to about 9,000 people, and is lucky to have French Press Coffee Roasters in the heart of it.
If you weren’t able to attend Beanstock but maybe you’ve heard of French Press it might be because they recently won some serious hardware at the Golden Bean – North America competition (but more on that shortly).
I had the chance to chat with Jeremy about French Press, and I am so thrilled he was interested in being our Coffee Roaster of the Month for December. So let me tell you a bit more about his story.
Q: So who is the team behind French Press Coffee Roasters?
My name is Jeremy Perkins. I am originally from the UK, and I moved to Canada 2 years ago. I started in specialty coffee back in November 2000 in the UK, having been a professional classical violist in London previously. I founded Coffeevolution, which had a small chain of coffee shops and I also founded Bean Brothers Coffee Company, which supplied the coffee shops as well as several wholesale customers.
In 2017 my wife and made the decision to leave the UK and move to Canada. I wanted to buy a coffee related business and searched the length and breadth of Vancouver Island for something vaguely suitable. Most of the businesses I saw, I would have needed to change almost everything about the way they had been operating, which kind of defeated the object of buying an existing business.
The location we found in Qualicum Beach won because, although it was under performing it was in essence attempting to be a quality focussed enterprise. And so this town has been home ever since, and soon after moving here we opened our doors!
Q: So who were some of your early influences in specialty coffee?
Anybody trying to improve things in a pragmatic way. I’ve always been a fan of James Hoffman, who is one of my go to sources for all things coffee. His opinion is well considered and he is a fan of authenticity over hipster-ism (if that is a word). Other people I respect and liked the cut of their jib, so to speak, are Scott Rao, Steve Leighton, Anette Moldvaer & Colin Harmon.
So tell our readers a little more about the history of French Press Coffee Roasters
French Press opened its doors in September 2017. Many people ask about the reason behind the name “French Press.” The short story is I bought a café called ‘French Press Café’ and simply erased the ‘Café’ bit and added ‘Coffee Roasters’…………I’m a genius! We roast our coffee on a Chinese-bought roaster that I’ve made some modifications on. It’s nothing fancy but it works great. In our cafe we brew on a La Marzocco FB70 as well as run a Mahlkonig K30 twin & Mazzer grinders.
Q: In your opinion, what’s the specialty coffee community like in Qualicum Beach? (is there one?) What about in general on Vancouver Island? What do you love?
There isn’t much for notable specialty coffee events outside of say Victoria. It is something that I would love to see increase, and would be a great means of drawing the specialty coffee community on the Island together. But for overall coffee culture in Qualicum Beach…it’s us.
While there may not be an awful lot of things to connect the coffee community in this area we have had some exciting changes to collaborate with other local businesses. We’ve collaborated with a skincare company which is great, but I would love to collaborate with a local brewery to create a refreshing beer that I would love to drink regularly. I only say ‘would love to drink regularly’ because more often than not, I drink coffee/beer collabs and think, this is interesting, instead of thinking, I’d love another pint or 2 of that!
You recently entered some of your coffee into the Golden Bean North America Competition, and did quite well. Tell us a bit more about the experience. And feel free to brag a bit about yourself, it’s cool!
We first entered Golden Bean last year in 2018 and only entered one coffee (our ‘Home’ blend) in one category, milk. We were surprised & delighted to win a silver medal. This year we decided to enter two of our coffees in three different categories; filter, milk & espresso. We entered our ‘Home’ blend again and our Ethiopia Kilenso Mocanissa. We were pleased to win GOLD in the milk category with the Ethiopian as well as we received a silver medal for it in espresso and a bronze for filter. We also received 3 bronze medals for each of our entries with the ‘Home’ blend.
Personally speaking, the main reason for entering the competition is so that we can have our peers review our coffee and if they think it warrants merit, we know we are at least on the right track and can go ahead and hopefully continue to improve. I also love the fact that all the coffees are blind tasted, so one is not in any way influenced by ‘big’ names in specialty coffee. I also make it out policy to only enter coffees we are selling daily in our café’s. It then becomes a true indication of the coffee we are serving to our customers and not just coffee that is only roasted for the competition.
thebloom.coffee: I have had the chance to brew up the Ethiopian in all three ways that French Press submitted for Golden Bean and I was BLOWN AWAY by each of the brew methods. I will say that this coffee truly does shine in a milk-based espresso drink. I predominantly brewed these as cortado’s but even as an 8oz trad-capp this was a spectacular coffee.
I also noticed that soon after you won your Golden Bean awards you made some pretty noticeable changes to the design of your bags. Was this coincidence…or intentional?
Regarding the labels; the designer that had done some work for us before, contacted me shortly after we won the gold medal at Golden Bean and basically said, ‘You guys have won a gold medal now, we have to improve the design of the bags!’ I make it a policy of mine to never argue with a talented German lady, especially when she’s offering design improvements!
Q: So speaking of coffee, what are you drinking/enjoying right now?
I generally love to drink East-African coffees, particularly from Ethiopia, Kenya & Burundi.
Q: Anything else you would like to share with the readers of thebloom.coffee?
I’m just happy to be part of the specialty coffee community in Canada and have felt very welcome at any events I have attended. I think the name of the game is education and hopefully continued improvement. Next up, we are looking forward to planning our Christmas coffees and to rolling out our wholesale offering.
And as a special thank you to everyone who took the time to read this feature I would love to offer a 10% discount for the month of December on our web-store. Simply enter in the promo code THEBLOOM at checkout.
Find their beans:
If you’re looking to get your hands on some beans then definitely check out their web-shop for what they’re currently roasting!
If you find yourself over on Vancouver Island and you’re in the area the cafe is located at: 692 Primrose Street, Qualicum Beach
Thank you so much to Jeremy for sharing with us more about French Press Coffee Roasters and for being a key part in the coffee culture on Vancouver Island! Keep up the great work!