This holiday season, Ottawa Foodie Girlz is celebrating the 12 days of Christmas with a festive Q&A style blog series featuring one local business per day. We’ve spent the last few weeks connecting with local business owners and each day we will we will reveal the business, their story, and a special giveaway. That’s right, we have 12 giveaways coming up!
Make sure to check out our 12 days of Christmas event page every day as we reveal the next business. All giveaways will start the day the blog is featured end 5 days later! All photos have been provided by the business, unless otherwise credited.
On the 11th day of Christmas my true love gave to me.....
Why/How/When did you start your business?
About three years ago, for Christmas, Matt bought his brother some green coffee beans and a Whirly-Pop popcorn maker. During the holidays, the boys had a grand old time roasting coffee beans. They learned quickly that roasting indoors was a mistake (too much smoke), and that the roasting process was more technical than they thought it would be. We were all happy to see them bonding over beans and grateful that the coffee was quite delicious.
Soon after the holidays were over, we purchased our own Whirly-Pop popcorn maker and ordered some green beans. The plan was to roast coffee to enjoy at home. Matt quickly got addicted to the art and science of roasting. As an engineer, he loves the technical aspects of roasting. Not only does he love the machine itself and its intricacies, he loves the creativity involved in roasting. He installed complex roasting software and loves analyzing the roast profile, collecting each and analyzing them carefully. He never tires of looking at the roasting curves of each batch.
Chantal is the owner and head trainer of the Ottawa Canine School, a doggy daycare, dog training school and training centre that teaches people how to become dog trainers. It's a busy place and Matt and Chantal thought that it would be ideal to replace the Keurig machine with Matt's freshly roasted coffee.
From there, things progressed naturally. Clients commented on the coffee and one client in particular sparked the idea of launching it as a product. Chantal held a contest to name the coffee and Barking Barista was born. We recruited Matt's brother, a graphic designer (www.aeillustrations.com) to design the logo. Matt wore out five Whirly-Pops before we made the leap and purchased a commercial roasting machine. It's a gorgeous crimson red Diedrich roaster. It's a small machine. We are roasting only 5 lbs at a time, but it sure beats roasting coffee over a campfire stove for hours on end!
We wanted to do something special with part of the proceeds. Donating to help dogs in need was an obvious choice. We spread the love to different rescues and organizations and are not affiliated with a particular rescue. We also allow rescues to purchase our coffee at wholesale price so that they can resell it and put the profit towards helping dogs. We often donate coffee to dog-related events, like the Guide Dog Walk and Woof Stock.
Last summer we launched a new product: cold brew coffee. It's a lightly carbonated, unsweetened cold coffee that we sell in a bottle.
Tell us about your successes and/or challenges?
We're proud of the direct trade relationships we've managed to forge. As a small business, it is a challenge to have the buying power to do so, but joining forces with other coffee roasters in the province has allowed us to literally shake the hands of a few coffee producers.
Our biggest challenge at the moment is balancing our day jobs (Matt is an electrical engineer and Chantal runs a dog training business), parenting an active 6-year-old, and growing the coffee roasting business. We want to grow yet remain a small, artisanal coffee roasting company.
What is your most popular product?
At craft shows, it's the hot coffee!
Our best selling beans vary: the Sumatran (Muzzle Punch) has been a crowd favourite; our Brazilian (Off The Leash) is another favourite.
We've just launched a few new beans: The Mexican (Doggy Style) sells out regularly; and the Papua New Guinean (The Hemingway) is a rising star. We named that one in honour of our Great Dane, Hemingway - the face behind the logo.
What do you want people to know about you and your products?
It is roasted with love and with a purpose. Every bag you purchase, every hot cup of coffee you buy helps a dog in need (#Coffee2TheRescue).
We specialize in single origin. This means that you won't find a lot of blends in our offerings. We keep it "pure and single". You'll always know where your coffee came from.
Where else can people find you and your products?
We do home deliveries every Friday. You can also find us in a variety of shops. You'll find the details on our website. We also roast for cafés, like the Fuel Bar on Metcalfe and Ginger Café in Carleton Place.