“You can have whatever you want.” These were the words spoken by the team at Dose Coffee on a warm summer morning when I stopped in the town of Revelstoke, BC to grab a coffee as I continued the long drive from Vancouver to Calgary.
But these words weren’t directed to me, but rather to my wife and kids. In the end, the team at Dose were certainly generous with offering me the chance to experience much from their incredible menu, but if you treat my family (and especially my kids) like rockstars, that means the world to me. And I can tell you that my kids have not stopped talking about this experience. They looked up in wide-eyed wonder at their massive menu board and slowly selected a few treats and drinks to enjoy.
I think is a testimony to the hospitality, care, and incredible culture that Dose has worked hard to create. Dose is located in a small mountain-town along the Trans-Canada Highway where your reputation goes a long way when you only have a population of just over 8,000. And so when you exude this level of care for others, you’re soon to experience people from all over making you their stop-over, or even their destination for truly mind-blowing coffee & eats.
And in the past few months since my last visit, the team at Dose have begun an even more exciting venture…roasting their own coffee! And I knew once this became a reality that I HAD TO share their story with you and invite them to be my Coffee Roaster of the Month for May! So I reached out to John & Laura (co-owners) along with their Head Roaster, Lemmie. Check out below what they had to say!
Hey Dose, so great to get the chance to connect with you! Help our audience get to know you a bit better…who is the team behind Dose Coffee Roasters?
(John) Lauren Webster and I are the founders but there is an entire team behind the scenes making the magic happen, lead by head roster Lemmie Green and the talented Reigan Drummond.
How did you end up in Revelstoke?
(John) We were fortunate enough to have had many friends spend time in Revelstoke between 2005 -2012 who had spoken very highly of the town and its surrounding beauty. I had always wanted to experience a ski season, as I grew up in the foothills of the snowy mountains of Australia which was very close to the ski resorts, but unfortunately skiing wasn’t in our family’s budget.
(Lemmie) Having done a couple of ski seasons in New Zealand and Japan, I’d heard of Revelstoke by reputation; epic terrain, good snow and a slightly less intense social scene than Whistler or Banff! I was in the UK and had been granted a visa but needed a job offer to enter Canada under Covid restrictions. I found Dose online, liked what I saw, and noticed a few of my coffee friends followed them so I pinged across an email to see if they had any work going. John and Lauren noticed my stint as head-barista at Proud Mary, one of their favourite cafe-roasteries in Melbourne, and after a quick zoom call they did all they could to get me out here! I expected to stay for a couple of winters but they entrusted me with the opportunity of becoming green-buyer and head roaster for a brand new roastery, roles that I’ve hoped to step into for a several years, so I decided to stick around!
What is your backstory in coffee? How did come to fall in love with specialty coffee?
(John) I fell into the world of coffee by default.
Growing up in Australia you are exposed to cafe & coffee culture from a young age especially if you’re working in hospitality. It’s a given that you can pour a rosetta or at least stack a tulip. It wasn’t my main focus but it had always been apart of my career.
I started out as a cocktail bartender traveling around Australia for competitions. However the long nights managing cocktail lounges was starting to take it’s toll so I turned my attention to wine and fine dining restaurants.
It was around this time I was lucky enough to meet my partner and now business partner the infamous Lauren Webster. Life was peachy, the only trouble was we found ourselves on opposite schedules. I was at a crossroads and was wondering how I could continue my love of creating drinks whilst working during the day to align with Lauren’s schedule. It was at this stage it dawned on me that I could turn my love of mixology to coffee.
The restaurant which I worked for at the time was open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, however, the owner despised the cliental that the breakfast service attracted. It was a high end restaurant perched on the headland of one of Australias most prestigious beaches; Noosa Heads. I suggested to the owner that we scrap breakfast service and instead create a coffee cart which could operate on the beach out the front of his Restaurant. He loved the idea and within the month I was slinging take away coffees and croissants.
It was cash only and our hours of operation were between 7am and 11:30am during which I would take just over 2k a day on average. The owner trusted me to take on this project which gave me my first real taste of what running my own business might look like. As this was my golden ticket to spend more time with Lauren I knew it had to succeed, however, the main challenge initially was that there was already a very vibrant coffee scene in Noosa with many other coffee carts to choose from including a young gentleman by the name of Jai’s. He actually went on to work in the states for Bluestone Lane as their coffee director and now owns his own cafe called Blank Street.
(Lemmie) My first experience of espresso coffee was whilst working as a bartender in a restaurant in Manchester, UK, called The Lead Station. I had no clue about coffee, I’d just finished university and to me it was still just a substance I would abuse in conjunction with sugar in the small hours when essay deadlines loomed. But the barista there could pour some pretty mean rosettas; my competitive streak was very envious of his skills, and I knew I wanted to learn. I never got much chance to practice as I’d get so flustered if I ever had to make coffee for real customers so was banished to pouring pints.
I moved to Australia shortly after, with the intention of making the most of the coffee scene to get my rosettas down pat…unfortunately they aren’t short of talented baristas so I never got a look in.
It was actually a year later in Wellington, New Zealand, where Peoples Coffee took a chance on me and I got my first specialty coffee gig. The friends I made at Peoples are the reason I want to do coffee. The knowledge and passion they shared with me to do coffee (and life) right was and still is so inspiring. A ridiculously amazing bunch of people that I miss dearly and hope to hang out with again soon.
I then moved back to Melbourne and applied for a barista position at Proud Mary. Ash, the head roaster, being a kiwi knew of Peoples Coffee on my CV and that got me and in. Working at Proud Mary was a whirlwind of learning with another bunch of amazing and passionate people. Even though Nolan was in Portland setting up shop there, you could feel his ruthless innovation and boundary pushing trickle down through the whole Proud Mary machine! Incredible operation.
I then also worked for a non-profit social enterprise coffee company in the UK called Change Please. There mission was to train and hire homeless people as baristas. Again, an inspiring organization with real passion. I’d love to combine coffee and social work again in the future!
So tell us a bit about the history of Dose Coffee Roasters. Why the name Dose?
(John) Initially we were going to name it something to do with our family as we miss them and thought it would be a nice way to feel close to them. Although after speaking with friends in the marketing and design world they brought it to our attention that it would be a shame for us to steer away from the brand that we had worked so hard to create.
We realize that there are a whole lot of Doses out there, from roasters to cafes from Red Deer to Japan but we decided to take our friends advice ad stick with what we know. Dose or Die.
How long has your café been operating?
(John) Dose has been in operation for the past 6 years. Over those years Dose has started to develop its own personality, drawing inspiration from everyone who’s contributed to its existence.
What can people expect when they visit your shop?
(John) I’m glad you ask, we have built our cafe on three cornerstones of hospitality – A quality product, genuine service and a welcoming atmosphere. We strongly believe if you can nail all three of these elements then you are as good as the best cafes in the world. Product, service and atmosphere. We lean into experience over convenience and just wanted to create a place that catered to those who held the same values.
Lemmie: Genuine service, banging tunes, killer feeds and delicious coffee, and very good chances of making a friend!
Perhaps our readers aren’t aware, but for years you have been an incredible multi-roaster café, but recently made the shift towards roasting and serving your own coffee. Can you share more about what led to this decision? How’s it going? Did I hear that there is even a skateboard ramp in your roastery?!
(John) We had always dreamed of roasting our own coffee as we felt it as a natural progression but with the initial start up budget of 30k for our cafe the reality was that it was simply unattainable. It was a matter of patience.
We used this time to introduce specialty coffee to Revelstoke. First with Phil & Sebastian and then once people were familiar with their offering we decided to bring Monogram on as our house offering, it was also around this time that we started our guest roaster program. We saw this as an opportunity to research what people enjoy and how far we could push thiner perception of coffee.
Dose and skateboarding culture are very intertwined, so yes we have skateboards and ramps out at our roasting facility. Skateboarding is one of my first and biggest loves so I have cherry picked different elements of skateboarding history and weaved it into our brand. Our bags are even designed around skateboarding with our designers creating a framework to allow us to constantly evolve. The idea came from pro model decks; there are some very iconic skateboard graphics that have lived on for decades and give particular skateboard brands a certain look and feel. We wanted to recreate that though our coffee bags and make each of them stand out as if they were skateboards on display in a skate shop. We also throw in a little sticker culture for good measure as skaters are always slapping stickers on the bottom of their boards.
(Lemmie): It’s been a steep learning curve, one that will never end. Roasting professionally for the first time without any experienced supervision is daunting, but I feel like we’ve got off to a decent start… despite the sound of skateboards screeching around the roastery floor! I think the biggest compliment we’ve received is that as we transitioned from our previous house coffee, supplied by the amazing Monogram, not that many people noticed! Having worked with Monogram’s coffee for the last two years and admiring everything they do, it’s high praise to hear there wasn’t a significant drop off in quality as we made the switch.
So speaking of roasting your own coffee, what equipment are you roasting on? What can our readers expect from what you’ll be offering? Any exciting origins, producers, etc?
(John) We sample roast on our IKAWA P100 and production roast on our Loring S15 Falcon which we have been quite impressed with.
Not long after receiving our P100, IKAWA reached out hoping to do a case study on us, which we gladly agreed to participate in. It was humbling to know someone from across the pond was interested in what we were doing and how we were using their technology / equipment
I would like to give a special shout out to Stephanie from Loring and the whole team as they have been fabulous to work with. I would have to say having Doug Graff come and sign off on your installation is probably one of the best experiences that we have had in our journey so far. For Loring to be that forward thinking and factor in a professional to help in the final stages was a huge relief.
(Lemmie): We’re roasting on a Loring s15 Falcon. It’s an incredible machine, perhaps too good. I’d love to be well versed across many machines, but if I have to roast on only Loring’s from here on out, I would not be mad. We also have an Ikawa we use for sample roasting, which has also been incredible. Very privileged for these pieces of kit to be my intro to roasting!
We decided that a major goal for the roastery, or ‘offering philosophy’, was to make specialty coffee more approachable, less exclusive and more playful. We aim to break down the barriers and remove any stigmas that turn people away from specialty coffee. We don’t want to alienate anyone with intimidating industry jargon, outlandish pricing or ridiculous tasting notes. We want to enable, educate and equip people with the confidence to enjoy ordering, drinking and making delicious, reliable and, occasionally, interesting coffees!
Our opening offering is straightforward but with enough intrigue for the connoisseurs. We have a core range of ‘omniroast’ coffees that are versatile, easy to brew, and taste sweet and balanced black or white. We’ve also curated a modest but comprehensive range of single origin filters. We’ll aim to hold a diverse and interesting but not overwhelming range of origins, varietals and differently processed coffees. If you ever order a ‘filter flight’ at the cafe you’ll get bright acidity, some funk and a whole load of as comfy.
I’m excited to see how are initial coffees are received and what our audience likes. Of course we’re hoping for the opportunity to work with and showcase some baller coffees from some amazing producers!
With home being Revelstoke, BC can you tell us a little bit more about what the specialty coffee community is like there? What do you love?
(John) The specialty coffee scene in Revelstoke is starting to take shape, Dose was the first to introduce specialty coffee to the town and to be honest it wasn’t that well received. We had countless amounts of people walk out on us because of the style of coffee we offered. Our aim was to introduce and then further develop the appetite for specialty coffee in Revelstoke and throughout the interior.
Any notable events?
(John) One notable event that recently took place was the grand opening of our roasting facility to which we invited the entire town. We thought our guests would be there to socialize and take advantage of the free drinks and canapés but to our surprise everyone was more interested in what we were doing. They wanted to know about the entire process from crop to cup. We had live roasting demonstrations which everyone huddled around taking photos and asking questions. We accompanied that with a tasing bar that showcased our offering; it was three people deep all night! I think the biggest surprise and compliment was a surprise visit from non other than Sir Doug Graf who drove all the way from Vancouver to give his blessing, that meant the world to us.
(Lemmie) We look forward to hosting regular cuppings and educational events at the roastery. We’ve done a couple of cuppings at the cafe as well as a home-brewing ‘masterclass’ which were really well received, so to have the extra space for such events out at the roastery will be awesome.
What about any exciting collaborations?
(John) As for collaborations we are constantly working with local artists but as for industry peers hopefully that will start to take shape in the not too distant future. We may have something in the works with a very well know roaster from Vancouver but you’ll have to wait and see.
We look forward to strengthening the connection of the interior roasting family and specialty coffee scene and will be looking to organize an annual event where we can all come together.
(Lemmie) The next coffee we will be releasing is a collaboration with the local bike shop, Flowt. It’s a super approachable Peru roasted for all brewing methods with notes of toffee and oat cookies, and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Revelstoke Cycle Association for local bike trail maintenance. We’re also going to be making a beer this spring with Fred over at Rumpus Brewing. We tasted some coffees together recently and turns out he loves naturals. Did someone say natural Costa Rica IPA?
And can you speak to the overall coffee culture in Revelstoke?
(John) As for culture it is a very exciting time in Revelstoke; the culture is starting to take shape but we are in the early stages of discovery. It’s like having a blank canvas to work with and we are exciting to see what we can create.
(Lemmie) It’s been really cool seeing the coffee culture in town grow even in the time I’ve been here. It’s no longer just the aussies and kiwis in town ordering flat whites and batch brews! Dose has been pivotal for nurturing coffee appreciation in Revelstoke, and it feels like the momentum is really gathering pace. We have the tools now to really fuel the fire, should be fun!
As you look ahead at the next few years for specialty coffee (especially in Canada) what excites you? What changes/innovations/opportunities do you see on the horizon?
(John) We really just want to share our journey with others and invite people along for the ride. Coffee is just like skateboarding and art; it’s subjective. However we believe if we can give people enough information for them to make their own choices and subsequently start sharing their opinions then that will help the industry as a whole. Our aim is to teach people how to fish not just give them the fish.
I personally love coffee for the connection and opportunities that it fosters. The industry has changed a lot since I first started slinging shots in 2005. What is hot one minute is considered taboo the next so we don’t tend to pay too much attention to industry trends and just follow our nose.
(Lemmie) On a personal level, getting some green buying and roasting experience under my belt is something I’m really looking forward to for the next few years! Learning to navigate seasonal availability of green and ambient seasonal changes to roasting will be fun.
I’m always excited to hear of new producing origins. It was awesome having Rabbit Hole as a guest roaster in Dose, getting to work with coffees from Haiti, Yunnan and Yemen was really fun. If growing specialty grade coffee can be viable and profitable in more diverse regions that’s really exciting as a consumer, no two terroirs ever produce the same tasting coffee!
I also love tasting new breeds and varietals. The next few years will throw up some new gems, no doubt. The San Isidro, a sarchimor cross breed at Alejo Castro’s Volcan Azul farm in Costa Rica, that we’ve been roasting is incredible and like nothing else I’ve tasted!
Whilst new fermentation and processing methods excite me somewhat, I have had some really delicious experimental fermentation coffees in the last few years, I’m definitely Team Varietal and Terroir! I like to feel that I’m tasting the coffee more than the process at all times.
It feels like specialty coffee in Canada is really popping off. It’s certainly not a new thing here, but it really is starting to bubble to the surface. Curating the guest roaster program at Dose the last two years allowed me to connect with a host of incredible roasters across Canada and work with their coffees. The specialty scene here is pretty damn exciting and everyone is so sharing! I’m really looking forward to Dose entering the conversation, a little fish in a very big pond, but we’ve got lots to talk about!
It’s been great getting the chance to connect up and share your story. Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
(John) Thank you for taking the time to read about our journey and next time you’re near Revelstoke stop in and say hi.
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 cafe: If you’re travelling along Hwy1, make sure to stop by their cafe!
I just want to say a huge thank you to John, Lauren & Lemmie at Dose Coffee for being such a huge contributor to the coffee culture in British Columbia. Check out their site, grab yourself some beans, and enjoy!