The majority of our CoffeeCollective features first started as roasteries, who we able to open doors to their own coffee houses, years after roasting their first bag of beans. However, Rosso Coffee Roasters’ story starts in the opposite. In 2007, Caffe Rosso opened their first coffee house location in Ramsay, Calgary, one of the cities oldest communities, using Illy and George Howell Coffee.
After several years of gaining popularity and adding a second downtown location in 2009 on Stephen Avenue (a trendy hotspot for dining and drinks), owner David Crosby and his new partner and brother, Cole, decided to explore the idea of roasting their own beans and blends. In 2010, under the Ramsay location’s roof, Rosso began to roast and test their own blends, which would give the cafe greater control over flavour profiles and the ability to expand their brand and coffee across the city.
I was able to visit the original Caffe Rosso and sit with sales and operations manager Jessie Attrell, who has been with Rosso over the last two years. Prior to, Jessie says she was unofficially a member of the team after her landlord told her about the cozy café across the street, nearly seven years ago.
Jessie says Caffe Rosso has seen extremely positive growth with their third location opened in 2012 in Victoria Park.
“We’ve been really well received in every neighbourhood that we’ve opened in,” says Jessie. “Its an amazing thing to be able to see something grow and to take a neighbourhood café and make it something people are talking about. When we go out and we see people carrying a Rosso cup, it is really an awesome feeling to be part of that growth.”
Incredibly, Caffe Rosso’s growth is entirely in thanks to their customers and word of mouth, as they have not done any official advertising. Even as Rosso evolved from café to roaster, the fans have always stayed true and committed.
“Our customers really support us and really supported the direction we wanted to go in and the transition. We’ve had more compliments on our coffee since we started roasting than ever before,” Jessie says.
Before using their own roasts in the cafes, David and the Rosso team sampled and tested for almost a year. Today, they invite customers to help them pick out amazing blends with weekly in-house tastings, Wednesday afternoons.
Jessie says “Rosso searches for sweetness, balance and overall complexity in the cup,” with their blends by sourcing beans from around the world. The cafes typically hold three to four coffees at any given time and always have “one comfort and one adventurous coffee,” so that there is always a blend that appeals to everyone.
Apart from amazing coffee, Caffe Rosso aims to maintain a natural, family environment. With rustic furniture and a feel-good atmosphere, it is no wonder that Caffe Rosso acts as a destination location. Jessie says many customers who typically enjoy the downtown locations throughout the week, still make weekend visits to the original location to take in the scent of freshly roasted beans and familiarity. She also says the majority of customers that come in, were first brought by a friend or loved one, showing the welcoming comfort of the Rosso community and cafés.
This month, CoffeeCollective is featuring two delicious roasts from Rosso Coffee Roasters.
Guatemala – El Inteligente Drip
Overlooking the colonial city of Antigua in Guatemala, El Inteligente is a very old coffee estate growing Bourbon and Typica beans. For this roast, notice tastes of ripe plum and almond – notes that are not a common blend of flavours but balanced together, are thought provoking and delicious.
Rwanda Two-Wheel Espresso
The Two Wheel Espresso is washed in long channels and after soaking, the beans are laid out to dry on raised beds, facilitating airflow. Grown on elevations of 2,000 meters, this coffee portrays tasting notes of caramel, sugar and layered chocolate. Caffe Rosso chose it for its extremely unique richness and flavour and CoffeeCollective chose it because we don’t remember ever trying Rwandan coffee. However, I was lucky enough to have the baristas as Caffe Rosso treat me to a latte using the coffee and it was delicious!
Following the tradition of opening a new location every two years, Jessie says Rosso is checking out the market for yet another café but has yet to find a spot. The roastery also hopes to start sourcing their own beans by year’s end, because as of now, they use a cooperative green buyer to source quality beans under fair trade methods.
For a delicious, approachable and thought provoking cup of coffee, check out a Caffe Rosso location and don’t forget to rate and comment on their roasts on the CoffeeCollective site. We’d love to hear how you enjoyed it!