Located exactly half-way between Calgary & Edmonton along the QE2 Highway is the city of Red Deer.
While perhaps not as well-known as larger cities in Alberta like Edmonton or Calgary when it comes to coffee culture, Red Deer is home to Dose Coffee. It is my first-stop whenever I find myself up in Red Deer visiting family or travelling from Calgary up to Edmonton.
Dose is quickly making a name for themselves as they shift from their origins as a small multi-roaster cafe to now roasting their own coffee. And I am thrilled to share their story as our Coffee Roaster of the Month for November! I reached out to Rolland who is the owner of Dose to get to know them even more.
Q: So who is the team behind Dose?
My name is Rolland Forsland. I was born in Ottawa but I moved to a small town just outside of Red Deer called Sylvan Lake when I was young. I moved around a bit when I was younger, but ended up in Red Deer because I really enjoyed the size of the city and I saw an opportunity in the city that was a huge value for me.
Q: What’s your backstory in coffee?
Originally I learned about specialty coffee from Fahrenheit Coffee in Toronto, it was the first time I had drank a natural Ethiopian cappuccino and it blew my mind on what coffee could be. Shortly after that I opened up a shop in Red Deer. I was still learning and at the time I wasn’t looking at it as specialty coffee, just coffee that tasted good and coffee that tastes bad. I wanted to bring people that experience that I had with that original Ethiopian Cappuccino, and that’s still my goal.
Q: Who were some of your early influences in specialty coffee?
Early influences for me were Fahrenheit Coffee which also led me into an appreciation for Te Aro (now Pilot Coffee Roasters), Parlour Coffee in Winnipeg, Transcend Coffee, Phil & Sebastian Coffee, Coffee Collective and Market Lane were companies and people I really loved. As well as Colin Harmon and Steve Leighton (I am a fan of whatever those guys do!)
Q: Tell us a bit about the history of Dose Coffee.
Dose Coffee all started with a pretty simple idea, there was a home store in Red Deer and I was friends with the owner. He had some space available and I thought a coffee shop was the perfect addition to the space and a great opportunity for us to start. My goal was to bring that coffee experience I had in Toronto to Red Deer. I wanted it to be very simple, no food, a small assortment of cold drinks, and a focus on fresh quality coffee that was as delicious as it could be. I really wanted to help people understand coffee better, what it can be and why we should appreciate it.
The shop was on the second floor and it was pretty slow for business, but we had a small group of people who really loved what we were doing and supported us, this kept me excited and made me want to continue growing. I could see that being on the second floor was just not going to work for a cafe that needed a high volume of foot traffic, so we moved into our current Downtown location.
We had total control on the design and all aspects of what we wanted to do, but ultimately the goal was still the same, get great coffee into people’s hands and create a space that felt more like us. The community responded to it very well and we have continued to grow. There have been plenty of ups and downs but the continued community support has helped us grow into two locations (Downtown & Riverfront), a mobile espresso cart, and our roastery.
Q: So why the name Dose?
I had a good friend growing up named Chris Sereda, he owned some rad businesses, at the time I was starting a clothing company and he had recommended me to choose a name that was simple and easy to remember. That concept just stuck with me and that idea of simplicity fit well with our goal of focusing on the coffee, kept things simple and had direct meaning to how we brew every day.
Q: Red Deer is an interesting city…since it’s positioned equal-distant between Calgary & Edmonton (two great coffee cities). Tell our readers about what the coffee culture is like there?
Coffee culture in Red Deer is a strange one, I feel like coffee culture really surrounds us (Dose) in the community. There is a lot of bistro-cafe culture here, which is awesome, but we are really the only one focusing on quality/specialty coffee.
Q: I can remember visiting Dose over the years but only recently noticed that you’ve begun roasting your own coffee. What led to this change of direction?
Roasting honestly was never the goal for us originally, over the years we have continued to grow and it was simple progression that led us here. When it comes to the coffee we wanted to curate our selection of origins and roast profiles. On the financial side of things it made us more sustainable, we could invest into ourselves and build our company. Though I do really miss bringing in roasted coffee from Right Side Coffee out of Barcelona, those guys are like nobody else and their coffee is on another level, plus they are just awesome humans. We roast on a 5 Kilo Toper TKM-SX5 and have been really happy with it so far!
Q: Looking forward beyond COVID-19 what do you see as some of the emerging trends or new initiatives that will shape the future of specialty coffee?
Man what crazy times, in a year every person involved in coffee had to completely re-evaluate their approach on business, marketing, accessibility and craftsmanship. I have a friend whose opinions I highly value, that told me innovation will be what survives through this (covid pandemic). I really took value to what he said, and we knew the only way through this was to be creative. In January 2020 we had begun roasting and I could not be more thankful for that step, it kept us alive through this and made us more self-sufficient.
Roasting also helped us deliver to the community who had a growing value in locally produced products. We introduced various methods for customers to continue to enjoy our coffee at home, selling coffee online, bottling our house made syrups, iced teas, cold brew made that possible. Right now I’m seeing a trend in more cafes moving into roasting and I think this is just so awesome! For sometime I was concerned specialty was going to be homogenized by the big guys in the industry, we would only have 5 big specialty roasters to choose from and every cafe would be serving the same. I’m very happy to see a huge diversity in the specialty industry right now, I think it’s headed in a positive direction.
Q: So speaking of coffee, what are you drinking/enjoying right now?
In my cup right now is Acevedo 1 from farmer Gilberto Rojas out of Colombia, we purchased it from Apex Coffee Imports. Jeff from Apex always finds the best Colombian Coffees. It’s a perfect fall drinking coffee with caramel, apple, and honey and at the moment it’s my go to coffee for the mornings.
Q: Tell the readers of Commonly Coffee about some of your recent accomplishments. Or any upcoming announcements from Dose?
This article is an accomplishment for us! You work with excellent cafes and roasters, so it’s a real highlight for us to be spotlighted by Commonly Coffee. We are just about to release our custom compostable bags, which is a huge step for us. Sustainability and environmental stewardship has always been important to our company. We have a pallet of coffee landing this month with new origins which we are very excited about roasting. We are also planning our 2021 bike race season with one of our Partners Manteo Cycling.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
If you choose to drink our coffee thank you. If you choose to support quality local coffee roasters, thank you.
Find their beans:
If you’re looking to get your hands on some beans then definitely check out their web-store for what they’re currently roasting!
Visit their cafes:
I just want to say a huge thank you to Rolland for sharing about Dose Coffee and for being such a huge contributor to the coffee culture in the Red Deer area! Keep up the great work!