EPIC 2012: See what's brewing with Salt Spring Coffee

Salt Spring Coffee will be participating in Fair Trade Vancouver’s Fair Trade Pavilion at this year’s EPIC 2012 Sustainability Living Expo: May 11-13. Join over 300 companies and organizations at the Vancouver Convention Centre to learn about what’s new in ethical and sustainable living. This year, we’ll also be asking you to think about what Fair Trade Steps you can take for 2012!

What can you tell me about Salt Spring Coffee and its connection to Salt Spring Island?

Our founders, Mickey McLeod and Robbyn Scott, live on the island where they started their first organic farm — long before those methods or even the term organic were widespread. They soon applied that pioneering approach to coffee and they opened a roasting café in Ganges, Salt Spring’s largest town. There are some great stories about how crazy it was in those first days, how they had to shut the doors just to get some sleep, and today the Ganges café continues to be a focal point for the island community.

Can you explain a bit about your Coffee Creation series on your website?

The core of our business is caring about where the coffee comes from, its origin, and the people who grow it. We cultivate partnerships with farmers and co-operatives and go beyond traditional trade methods to improve their communities. The Coffee Creation series opens up our supply chain and personalizes it. You can read about and see the people who work with those beans at every step and learn about coffee at the same time.

Do you have any tips for brewing a good cup of coffee?

Brew it by hand. Using a French press is the most well-known manual method but there are other single-cup techniques that are easy to do at home and do not cost a lot. In general, be consistent. Use the same amount of coffee and water, the same grind level, and pay attention to how long it takes to brew. Then taste it black and make adjustments, starting with the grind. Most of all, enjoy the process and you will enjoy the coffee.

What can readers expect to see from you at this year’s EPIC Show?

Some excellent, great tasting beans. We’re so excited about our coffees and we want to focus on brewing them right so everyone can bring out those tastes at home. We are going to showcase some manual brewing methods and you can make a cup yourself with help from our veteran baristas... And we have a couple of surprises as well.

What steps will you be making in the coming year to support Fair Trade?

We will continue to purchase organic coffee from small- and medium-sized co-ops and farmers who are working to make their communities better. On our website, saltspringcoffee.com, you can find videos about our work at origin, including one about these remote farms in Nicaragua that needed chippers for turning organic materials into fertilizer — and how we got them there. Most importantly, Mickey, Robbyn and Banks Thomas, our Director of Coffee, will keep making trips to the farms where our coffee is grown to form those direct, personal relationships that can make all the difference.