There was no way that on July 1st (Canada’s Birthday) that I would feature a coffee roaster from anywhere other than my home and native land…and also, from the province I grew up in and called home for the first 30 years of my life.
So to celebrate today, I am thrilled to feature none other than Fernwood Coffee Roasters from Victoria, BC. I have long been a fan of their coffee and I am thrilled to get the chance to share their story with you on my site. I have been chatting with their team for the past few months and I love what they are doing to grow the specialty coffee community in Canada, and especially on Vancouver Island.
Hey Fernwood Coffee Roasters, so great to get the chance to connect with you! Can you tell us a little more about yourself?
Fernwood Coffee Roasters began in 2006. We are based out of the original Parsonage Cafe which was founded in 1989. Our company calls the Fernwood area home. And this area is known throughout the city of Victoria as a particularly warm, creative, and engaged neighbourhood. Fernwood is known for its creative spirit and community vibe, and as such we named our company after it.
I recently had the chance to get my hands on a few bags of your coffee beans. Can you share more with our readers about what equipment you roast on, and tell us more about your philosophy and approach when it comes to roasting?
We roast all of our coffee on a Diedrich 24kg drum roaster. We roast manually, as far as temperature and air flow controls, using Cropster to track our roast profiles. We try not to tie ourselves down with a roasting “style” and instead try to find each coffees unique profile that best highlights its strengths.
I see on your site that you have two different styles of coffee bags. Is there a reason behind this? Can you share more about the idea behind that?
We have two lines of coffee. One is our Fairtrade, organic blend line (White bags). These coffees are purchased in larger quantities and roasted and blended for consistency with very approachable (easy to dial in) profiles. These coffees are great for grocery shelves and restaurants where coffee is an offering rather than the main focus. Then we have the single origins and 1936 espresso blend (red and blue bags). These are coffees that we seek out in small amounts from specific farms or co-ops. We spend a lot of time designing profiles for these that highlight any unique subtleties that we can find in them. Our 1936 Espresso is an evolving blend that uses coffees from our single origin list. We have a general profile we shoot for but it is based on what we want to brew on our bars at the time.
I noticed on your site that you not only offer coffee beans for retail, but also instant coffee? Can you share more about why you chose to partner with Hasty Coffee on this, and why your instant coffee is different than perhaps what many people are used to when they think of Instant Coffee?
For our instant coffee we partnered with Hasty Coffee after trying some bigger companies south of the border. Hasty Coffee is Canadian, and is still relatively new. The care they take in every batch comes through in the final product, which is outstanding. We hit it off quickly and are excited to grow together. Many of our staff are avid hikers and enjoy backcountry camping along the west-coast, so instant coffee was a natural product for us to get into.
In your opinion, what’s the specialty coffee community like in Victoria? What do you love? While Vancouver is certainly renowned for its coffee-scene, what makes Victoria special?
I think Victoria has a very mature coffee culture with lots of established, long running businesses that take their coffee seriously. Collectively, we have a long history of being competitive at Barista Championships and a good group of very qualified tasters and judges.
So speaking of coffee, what are you drinking/enjoying right now?
Currently, our Colombia Clara Isabel Moncanut from Finca Salsipuedes. It is a honey process that is sweet and has incredible body. I brew on a Ratio Eight in the home office.
Looking beyond COVID-19 what do you see as some of the emerging trends or new initiatives that will shape the future of specialty coffee?
I think that while barista competitions have their place in guiding innovation and quality I hope to see more collaboration in the future. It is always really exciting to see two great breweries do colab brews and I think that would be a fun thing to see more of in the coffee world.
I noticed on your site you have a page dedicated to “brew guides”. As a coffee roaster, why is education such an important aspect of what you offer your customers?
We like to tell people that there are no rules and that they should experiment with brew parameters and methods. But, in order to do that well it requires a base knowledge of brewing fundamentals. I look at the brew guides as a jumping off point to start playing with different coffees and learning how to extract a coffee that tastes good to you.
As someone who fell in LOVE with your canned Coffee Cream Soda, will you ever be bringing that back? I wish I could get my hands on this still.
It is literally in a tank right now and will be canned in the next few days! We started as a very informal passion project and realized last year that to grow it we needed to reset with the help of food scientists and really dial in the shelf stability and consistency. (We also think we improved the taste!)
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
When given the chance I always want to compliment our staff. We have such a great crew of people in every area of our business and that community is what drives us to be better all the time.
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.
If you happen to find yourself travelling to the beautiful city of Victoria, make sure to stop by their cafe, located at 1105 Caledonia Ave.
And if you’ve read all the way to the bottom, well then you deserve a little something-something. Fernwood has generously offered a 10% discount code for the month of July. Just use COMMONLYCOFFEE at checkout (excludes coffee subscriptions).
I just want to say a huge thank you to Ben & Dom for sharing more about Fernwood Coffee Roasters and for being such a huge contributor to the coffee culture in the Victoria, BC. Check out their site, grab yourself some beans and enjoy!