A new venture in Montreal’s Sud-Ouest aims to make it easier for independent cafés to get into the roasting game.
The Canadian Roasting Society has fired up its machines in a warehouse on St-Patrick Street in the Sud-Ouest. It’s sort of a roasting co-operative, or a “WeWork, but for coffee roasting”: café owners or other would-be coffee roasters pay for membership, and in exchange get access to roasting equipment and other services in the space. The space features two Probat roasters, a reverse osmosis water filtering system, cupping and brewing labs, among other facilities.
It’s the brainchild of Andy Kyres, owner of Tunnel Espresso, in Montreal’s underground city, and Scott Rao, who co-founded (and later departed) Café Myriade.
“It’s a very well-stocked facility with everything you could need to develop a very high quality coffee brand,” all for a couple of hundred dollars a month, says Kyres.
The idea came from Kyres wanting to get into roasting, but not having the space at his coffee shop.
“I went around asking some local roasters to see if I could practice on their equipment, and I got turned down by literally every roaster in Montreal — there’s a lot of grey zones with the city for roasting coffee [in terms of permits] and not everyone is interested in going through that.”
While some local coffee shops — such Dispatch, Café St-Henri, and Paquebot (which merged with roaster Zab) do roast and blend their own coffee, there’s no shortage of small cafés that don’t (including some that have multiple locations, like Myriade).
Many of them may baulk at producing their own roasts, due to high costs — it’s these kinds of coffee professionals Kyres has in mind at the Roasting Society. He estimates that it would cost over $100,000 — the equipment making up about half of that, in addition to an exhaust or chimney set up, a rent deposit, and (depending on the space) renovations.
“It’s like ‘let me go dip a toe’ situation — we’ll order green coffee and store it here for them, and they can come once a week or once every two weeks and have everything on site here,” says Kyres.
Kyres has longer-term plans to open the space to the public, with a coffee shop and food on site, although there’s no timeline for that in place right now. But public events will take place there: for example, a palate training program for food and beverage professionals, something that would typically require travel and other substantial expenses.
This isn’t the first membership-based, cooperative-type facility in Montreal’s food and beverage world — Mabrasserie in Rosemont has a similar function, where outside companies brew their own beers (although its business structure is different. A culinary food co-op, the Foodroom, also took a similar approach until its closure in 2017.
- Canadian Roasting Society [Official]