Sixteen years ago, in 1999, Kienna Coffee Roasters was founded by Dan Leach. Originally, the Saskatchewan born entrepreneur did not intend of roasting his own beans, but after supplying coffee to offices and companies he decided it no longer made sense to buy when he could create his own roasts. And so, Dan purchased the equipment on his own and got started.
Today, Kienna is a family run business with nearly twenty employees in total including Leona and Randy Leach, Dan’s two children and Robert Lehnert – a family friend and business partner who graciously toured us around Kienna’s brand new 40,000 sq ft bay in Calgary. At Kienna, we had the pleasure of meeting Dan, who although is now 70 years old, still manages to grind, roast and work away however he is needed.
“People don’t really have roles, we all just kind of do what needs to get done,” says Rob. As a small family business, the Kienna staff take initiative to get the job done. This even includes Leona, now president of the roastery, spending time on the roasting machine when necessary.
With their massive space and warehouse, you can imagine what Kienna is doing apart from agreeing to be featured as CoffeeCollective’s April roaster. Creating the specialty KiennaCUP for their coffee pods now allows their coffee fans to quickly enjoy a roast from most single brew machines, including Keurig. In addition, Kienna roasts and packages for various private labels, although they are polite enough not to mention any names.
Surprisingly enough, Kienna only began whole bean sales eight months ago, and through out the years have focused on single cup grounds for massive distribution in restaurant and hotel chains across Canada. Now, they are taking a step back to the bean, allowing you and other bean lovers to enjoy the pleasure of the freshest coffee possible.
As the coffee roasting industry is not the easiest to thrive in, what has made Kienna so successful over the years while other micro roasters are starting up and winding down just as quickly?
“We’ve stuck it out,” Rob says. “We have some great coffees and we are focussed on making sure that the customer is happy.”
Though Kienna does roast some delicious blends (over 200 recipes!) Rob also says that the company’s success does not allow for bragging rights and that staying humble has only assisted them in growth.
“We get compliments all of the time on our coffee. We don’t rave about our coffee like a lot of the specialty coffee companies out there and we don’t claim to have the best coffee in the world, but we hope that you enjoy them.”
Kienna does not have a cafe location, as they prefer to remain a coffee roaster at the heart of it all. However, you can find their roasts, including the featured Backpackers Brew and Kona Style, at various cafe locations including The Coffee Market in Calgary’s Kensington neighbourhood.
“Backpackers Brew is our number one seller across the country and is the favourite among our customers in general,” says Rob. “Its a very dark coffee but it does not have a bitter acidity to it. Its very bold and is a blend of our African coffees.”
“Kona blend is very smooth and is what I drink almost every day. It is not 100% Kona, otherwise it would be much more expensive. It has a really nice chocolatey flavour to it and its very good.”