Coffee Roaster of the Month – Canal

Known for its incredible French culture, exciting cuisine, and historical architecture, the province of Quebec is a sought-after destination for many in the USA & Canada who desire all the allure of Europe without the time and cost that it requires to fly half-way across the world.

But beyond their penchant for poutine lies another aspect that has drawn me to this province for quite a long time–its incredible specialty coffee culture. When it comes to this province and in particular Montreal, this city has truly served as a catalyst for coffee and is helping to launch some of the most well-known and well-respected specialty coffee roasters in Canada.

One such roaster is none other than Canal Coffee Roasters hailing from the spectacular city of Montreal. And it is their story that I am delighted to have the opportunity to share with you this month as they are my Coffee Roaster of the Month for February 2023.

I connected up with two of their team members (Veronica & Éric) for this feature and they are beyond excited to share more about themselves. So let’s get this going!

Hey Canal, so great to get the chance to connect with you! Help our audience get to know you a bit better…

Hola Tyler! We’re pretty happy to be featured this month on Commonly Coffee! It’ll be Éric Gingras (E), CEO & founding partner of Canal Roasters & myself, Veronica Ortiz Rodriguez (V), Roaster as well Social Media & Content Manager, hanging out with you all and answering all of your questions.

É: Salut Tyler! That’s right, I’m Éric, the CEO of Canal.

Canal is currently composed of 7 members : besides myself and Veronica, we have brothers Daniel & Patrick (Hébert), who are co-owners/business partners. Daniel’s main responsibilities are Head Roaster and Green Buyer. He’s also at the origin of the design of our brand. Then, we have Claire (Hambling). As our Production & Logistics Manager. Claire is supported by the rest of our amazing team : Patrick (Hébert), Jocelyn (Meunier) and Andrés (Burges). They  are key to all that has to do with processing and shipping to our B2B and B2C orders.

V: We are actually Montreal-based: we have a thriving food and beverage culture, entrenched in European traditions, with a lot of Italian & French influences. So naturally, coffee plays an important part in most of Montrealers’ daily lives! We have been going through a specialty coffee boom in the last years and especially during the pandemic, therefore leading to a greater demand for specialty coffee & more local roasters to meet that demand.

É: As Veronica said, we’re all Montréalers… so it was evident that we’d build something based out of our city.

So tell us a bit about the history of Canal Roasters? How did it begin? And can you share why the name Canal?

É: It all started at Lili & Oli (on Notre-Dame Street), a friendly & buzzing Café established for more than 17 years now, alongside the Lachine Canal in the South West District of Montreal. Brothers Patrick and Daniel were (and still are) the owners. I had been a regular client since its opening and the ownership, staff and other regular clients had become something like extended family to me!

5 years ago, unsatisfied with the coffee beans they were getting from their existing supplier, Dan and Pat started thinking about roasting their own coffee. They approached me, looking for a business and hands-on partner to help bring this project to life with them. The timing was perfect for me as I had just sold my shares of another business I had and was looking for a new professional adventure. I accepted and Canal was born!

É: Starting a company, there are numerous brainstorming sessions. Canal popped into my head in the middle of one night during that period where we had regular and intensive meetings and such brainstorming sessions. However I looked at it, Canal sounded perfect to me so I presented it the next day to my partners to see if they felt the same:

  • As mentioned previously, we are first and foremost, Montréalers. As such, all three of us, Dan, Pat and myself, grew up in a fully bilingual environment. Our brand needed to sound as good in French as in English.
  • Living along the shores of the historical Lachine Canal is an obvious link, as it defines us geographically both on a personal – as we live here –  and professional level. But there was something more… “romantic” about the name: coffee, as we know, is a commodity that has been exchanged and has traveled through the waterways for centuries. The large canals of the world (Panama at the top of the list) have been crucial for that commerce. The boat on our logo is a direct reference to that!
What is it that you love about Specialty Coffee?

E: Our mission is: “Canal aims to inspire people to savour the moment and explore the fascinating world of coffee in the same way that we discover interesting people and make new friends”

So, aside from the vast world of flavours and all of the stimulating discoveries you make when diving into the universe of Specialty coffee, for us, it’s about people. From the farmers and their families to the moments shared while drinking great coffee, passing by all other contributors. That’s what we’re about!

There is nothing more exciting and stimulating than to have the chance to expose someone to a perfectly extracted specialty coffee for the first time, while explaining to them everything that this coffee represents: how it was harvested, picked, dried, bagged, shipped, roasted and served. And just as importantly, highlighting the humans (and their skills) behind all of those stages.

I noticed you have three values that seem to shape and guide you as a company. Why did you select Respect, Humility & Fraternity? Can you share a bit more how those impact and influence what you do as a company?

É: All 3 values lead our business to build strong connections/collaborations and foster a sense of unity/belonging/community.

Respect stands for the respect of the humans around in and around Canal and also, respect for the product (coffee)

Humility stands for accepting to make mistakes, and knowing you’ll build from them

Fraternity stands for recognizing that as a big family, Specialty Coffee Roasters are stronger together than divided. We do not believe in putting competitors down to elevate ourselves. 

V: I can attest to those values! They promote a positive and productive work environment: we feel respected, valued and empowered. And I also feel these are prevalent when working with our clients, consumers, partners and we can’t forget the producers!

So with home being Montreal, QC can you tell us a little bit more about what the specialty coffee community is like there? What do you love?

É: There has been a wild rise in the number of specialty coffee roasters since we started this adventure 5 years ago. We often compare the fast growth of our industry to Craft Beer 10-15 years ago here in Montreal and the province of Quebec. It’s also a very similar client demographic…

We are part of an amazing community of fellow roasters who all have their unique “colour”. It’s very stimulating and inspiring!

We are currently providing coffee (cold brew) to a local microbrewery for a collab on a beer that is due to come out soon.

We are also one of the sponsors for ECF, an all-girl road cycling team competing at provincial level.

V: Our coffee culture is vibrant. It’s diverse. It’s pretty inviting. We actually have the Canadian Specialty Coffee Association headquartered in Montreal which holds notable events and competitions all year long like Barista Championships, Latte Art, etc.

Not every coffee roaster seems to have as much of a focus on Blends as you do. Sadly, it seems like they don’t always get as much respect in some coffee circles. What about them do you love so much to feature six different ones on your site? 

É: You bring up a very good point! There are 2 main reasons for our Blends offer.

The first is that we wanted to offer blends that would be of Specialty Coffee grade yet, act as crowd pleasers when it comes to serving espressos at home or for our Commercial clients’ main grinders. Espresso Lili&Oli and Grand Trunk are perfect examples.

The second reason is that in order to “inspire people to explore the fascinating world of Specialty Coffee” as our mission states, we feel like the best way is to lightly and gently expose new coffee drinkers to more “exotic” and “unfamiliar” flavour notes  A good example of that is our Kochab: a 50/50 blend. It consists of a medium roast Nicaragua bean that has a rich body and classic notes. It is completed and complemented  with a super juicy high altitude natural process Colombian bean. When well extracted, it is an amazing combination of Classic and Fruity notes. For us, this blend can act as a perfect springboard into the spectrum of funkier coffees that can sometimes be a bit too challenging in the flavour notes (and the associated acidity) of lighter roasts. Aside from Kochab, our Bellatrix and Betelgeuse have the same goal with different flavour notes.

V: I always found blends interesting: I personally find they offer more balance in flavours and complexity. Mixing beans from different regions with different profiles allows to bring out the best of each. And as a roaster: I love being able to learn and create a consistent flavour profile. 

Maybe can you share a bit more with our readers about your philosophy/approach to roasting? What equipment do you roast on?

É: We roast on a PROBAT Probatone 25. Helping people discover the world of coffee and having such a large offer of products means that we can’t stick to one type of roast. We will roast our green coffee to highlight the flavour notes we originally bought them. Roast levels (and curves) are also precisely managed to achieve specific goals – ie. our Blends philosophy.

So speaking of coffee, what are you drinking/enjoying right now?  

É: As you can imagine, I’m pretty well equipped at home and recently, I’ve been pretty much splitting 50/50 with espresso and pour overs. As espresso, my “go to” beverage is a cortado and I usually opt for our blends. I currently have Betelgeuse in the hopper. As of late, I am also alternating between our new Maringa, a fully washed Kenyan and a coffee I just brought back from Cartagena, roasted by Libertario : Rock, Bourbon Rosado, good stuff!

V: I’ve got a Sinusitis… So gotta lay low with the caffeine as it’s a diuretic and exacerbates my symptoms 🙁. True story and real facts! *wheezes* But prior to this happening, I’m a sucker for espresso. Love me some cortados and cappuccinos: specially with our blend, Nebula. Those toasty caramel notes make me swoon!

As you look ahead at the next few years for specialty coffee (especially in Quebec) what excites you? What changes/innovations/opportunities do you see on the horizon?

É: As excited as we are with the growth of our market shares in the industry, Specialty Coffee still only represents a very (too) small portion of the market shares. That is true in Quebec but it extends to all of Canada and North America. Think of Tim Horton’s…suffice to say that opportunities are gigantic! We want to continue growing at the right pace, respecting our mission and values. We are hoping to be more present in the rest of Canada through our current sales channels. And as a longer term larger goal, we would love for the market to hit a point where Specialty Coffee is present in some larger general public stores. That would mean that the demand for great coffee has reached a significant level! 

It’s been great getting the chance to connect up and share your story. Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

É: I invite everyone to reach out to us if they have any questions. We LOVE interacting with the community. Our Instagram page is a great way of reaching out and, obviously, to follow us on our journey!

V: Absolutely! We showcase behind the scenes, giveaways , your coffee moments with our cafecitos etc and we’re always open to guide you all to learn more about the fascinating world of coffee! I also wanted to share with y’all that we just got wind about being nominated as “Roaster of The Year”for the 5th Edition of The 2022 Th3rdwave Awards! We’re so excited to be featured amongst other incredible local coffee roasters & just being able to witness how our Community is growing each year. Thank you all for the support and trust you’re placing in us: this just fuels us to keep going & growing with our Community.



As a part of this write-up, Canal is thrilled to share some sweet prizes with you with a giveaway. This will run from Feb. 2nd until Feb. 5 over on my Instagram!!! Good luck to everyone entering.

1. Canal Hoodie (available in S to 2XL)
2. Canal Reusable Cup
3. Your choice of 2 X 300g bags of Canal Coffee!


Contact Info:

instagram: @canal_roasters

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.


I just want to say a huge thank you to the team at Canal Coffee Roasters for being such a huge contributor to the coffee culture in Montreal and across Canada. Check out their site, grab yourself some beans, and enjoy!

Stay Caffeinated,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s