Cover picture by David Dworkind
Dispatch's short history is fascinating. Five year's ago the company was just getting started. And by getting started, I mean they were delivering iced coffee in mason jars on a bike. One thing lead to another and the next thing you know they're operating a mobile cafe shop, a roastery, 2 cafés and are just on the edge of opening a third location. Yup, that escalated quickly.
Chrissy, founder (and original coffee delivery girl) and Chris, their director of coffee, found the time to answer some of my questions in order to help me understand the importance of ethics in coffee as well as the inspiration and drive behind Dispatch Coffee.
What machine do you use to roast coffee?
We are roasting on a Probat P12 drum roaster. It is a 12 kilogram roaster custom assembled for us in 2014. We are located in Montreal's Mile Ex neighbourhood, which is a very interesting community zoned for residential, commercial, and light industrial purposes. As a result, we have lots of great neighbours, so we also use a TO-2 Thermal oxidizer to keep everyone happy while reducing our emissions by 95%.
How did you meet your first coffee supplier?
We work with high quality coffee importers who source top notch green coffee in sustainable and ethical ways. We love importers who are on the ground at origin sharing feedback and knowledge, and to find such partners we depend on equal parts reputation, research, and before anything, a conversation to get to know the people we're working with. We began working with Red Fox Coffee Merchants and Collaborative Coffee Source, two of our first import partners, simply based on their reputations and the reputations of the people that work for them.
Picture by Susan Moss
What is the best coffee you’ve ever had?
There's the best coffee, and there's my favourite coffee. The best coffee I've ever had was an Ethiopian Kemgin coffee roasted by Pig Iron Coffee Roasters for Josh Tarlo's Australian Brewer's Cup bid. It was kind of frantically handed to me in the middle of a rush, so I don't even know much about it, except that it was wildly complex, and apparently just an initial roast, so "not perfect". I could taste lemongrass, orange, ginger, coriander seed, and white peach for almost a half hour after I finished the cup. That being said, my FAVOURITE coffee was a cup of something I can't even remember. It was purchased on a camping trip to Deer Isle, Maine, from the surprisingly secluded and awesome 44 North Coffee Roasters.
I set up a burner and a pot of water on a rock overlooking the Atlantic Ocean (which is my home). I had a simple breakfast of eggs and fresh caught mackerel with a french press of this rich coffee, and I can still remember how the funk of the forest and the salt of the ocean affected the cup. The environment was almost like aromatic seasoning, and it was consumed in complete seclusion, you know, with a smattering of seagulls and waves lapping the rocks. I always talk about this experience because coffee is emotional for most people that drink it, and I think it's important for coffee professionals to explore that experience. The emotional love for coffee as well as the academic love for it.
The environment was almost like aromatic seasoning, and it was consumed in complete seclusion, you know, with a smattering of seagulls and waves lapping the rocks.
What is one thing consumers should think about when buying coffee?
Ethics. The supply chain of coffee is horribly unequal. As a consumer, you should be able to ask a human being about the coffee and get an answer, specifically when it was roasted, when it was harvested, where it's from, and what it tastes like. Coffee purchased in grocery stores, for example, represents some of the most unethically produced coffee in the world. Come to Dispatch, or go to any local coffee shop or roaster, and ask a human being some questions.
Are there any coffee roasters or cafés that particularly inspire you?
I take inspiration from people in coffee for their minds and for their energies more than their products and approaches to quality, since everyone's doing their own thing when it comes down to it. I'd have to say my pal Colleen Anunu inspires and teaches me a great deal.
She wears many hats, but most notably is a director at SCAA and Sr. manager of coffee supply chain at Fair Trade America. She's one of the most passionate and intelligent minds I've met in coffee (or outside of coffee), and she's just so kind and approachable. She's a great communicator, and she's as focused on ethics and sustainability as she is on quality, and she's talking about it in friendly ways. She's a very different kind of coffee professional, and a huge inspiration to everyone at Dispatch, I think.
Picture by Coer Kerr
What is something you have learnt through testing and experimenting at your coffee lab?
We don't really do much big picture research in our lab at this point in our existence. It's mostly quality control and internal profile/recipe development, so nothing revolutionary, at least not that we can talk about in detail...yet. That being said, we play a lot with water temperature and brew pressure, and we love the results of lowering these as you brew. We find, after extensive testing, that as you near the end of a brew, when we lower our pressure or our temperature, it will lower the kinetic energy of the system and continue to add sweetness and body to our cups without adding bitterness, allowing for some very high TDS/Extraction % results while still remaining sweet and articulate.
My hypothesis is that it inhibits the extraction of aggressively bitter compounds that are usually dissolved much slower than the more desirable acids and sugars. At this point we can't say why this is exactly, though our hypothesis is that it may be linked to the melting point of different molecular compounds, and the molar weight of bitter compounds being generally much heavier than sugars or acids, leading to bigger molecules that may need more heat for more time to open the pores of the bean and more kinetic agitation to be dissolved. Who knows though!
Thank you so much for your time. Where can people learn more about you?
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