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Oso Negro Coffee

April’s CoffeeCollective feature comes from beautiful Nelson, British Columbia. Jim May and Jon Meyer, two friends that worked in the forest sector and had a mutual desire for change, and founded Oso Negro in 1993. After learning as much as possible about the coffee roasting business, they left the trees and open spaces for a small 200 square foot roasting room.

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The Spanish name Oso Negro translates to “Black Bear,” and was chosen by Jim and Jon for numerous reasons, apart from their common love of black coffee. First, after years of working in the forest and living in Nelson, spotting the animal was not rare. Black Bears are often used as a common symbol to represent the area. Choosing the Spanish word and flair also brought forth a reminder of how far coffee travels from foreign lands to Oso Negro customers.

At first, Oso Negro began with single varietal roasts, sourcing beans from coffee brokers, West Coast Coffee Traders and Royal Coffee. From ordering only five bags of beans to 260, it is fair to say that ON has expanded it reach and popularity through out Nelson and the rest of Canada.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Anne Bokser Wishlow, a co-owner of Oso Negro who began with the company in 1995 as a barista. In her 10 years with the roasting company, Anne has taken part in its growth from three to 60 employees and says she has acquired a true taste and passion for coffee in the process.

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“Oso Negro was a slow methodical evolution through tremendous amounts of customer engagement,” said Anne. “We listened to feedback and developed from there. Customers wanted more out of a cup of coffee, more flavour and dimension.”

Through understanding coffee and giving it away to our customers, Anne says Oso Negro was able to expand and outgrow their roasting space and build a community hub with the Oso Negro Café all while including the opinions of their supporters. Although ON grew slowly, Anne says this has given the company the ability to “expand with quality in mind.”

“We keep hands on and eyes on every bean so that we can make sure it is consistent and top notch.”

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Today, Oso Negro has moved onto blending beans from Central and South America, Africa and Indonesia, which allows for the roasters to play with ratios and roasts. By combining the sweetness of Ethiopian beans with the creamy and buttery body of Indonesian, Oso Negro creates different flavour profiles in their unique 24 blends.

Lucky customers of the Oso Negro Café are able to try a new blend every day of the week as the baristas use freshly roasted coffee brought down from the roasting house each morning. The café, which used to be a house, has been transformed to a local hangout with multiple benches, tables and couches spread through its many rooms. Ann says the location on Nelson’s main road, Baker Street, fits in perfectly with the quaint and artistic community.

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CoffeeCollective featured two blends from Oso Negro in April including the medium roast, Full Organic Blend and dark roast, Meteor Blend. Both of these roasts use beans sourced from Central America and Indonesia and come from certified organic and certified fair trade farms.

If you get the chance to stop by Nelson this summer, we definitely recommend visiting Oso Negro Café. We look forward to doing so ourselves. You can also visit the roasters website for more information on their roasts and to order some of their deliciously blended coffees.


March CoffeeCollective feature: Bean North Coffee Roasting

For the month of March, CoffeeCollective searched Canada’s beautiful northern territories for the perfect cup of coffee.

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Bean North Coffee Roasting is nestled in Whitehorse, Yukon. While you may think the beans suffer in their journey from heat to frozen temperatures, Bean North owner, Michael King sees its many advantages.

“When we are roasting in the winter months in very cold temperatures, the conditions are perfect for hitting the sweet spot in the cup profile, every time.”

Another benefit the cold brings is the common need to wrap one’s hands around a steaming mug, hence why Bean North Café has become the community hangout and a local tourist destination. Surrounded by spruce and pine trees, the café offers more than just a quality cup of coffee. Cupping courses and roastary tours are hosted from the café in addition to the charming social atmosphere where guests can discover coffee farmers, Bean North and its beginnings.

In 1996, Michael says he and his wife, Helen “travelled to the coffee lands of Central America on a mission to learn everything we could about coffee.”  After being exposed to the realities of coffee farming just as Canada’s Fair Trade label was newly launched, Bean North was signed on as western Canada’s first 100% fair trade coffee roaster.

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Bean North founder, Michael King. Photo by Gary Bremner

To reach their dreams of sourcing coffee directly, Michael and Helen linked up Cooperative Coffees. By joining forces with other small roasters, Michael says opportunities to import coffee from Africa, Central and South America were now available. Today, after a decade, various farmers still work closely with Bean North and Cooperative Coffees.

“In most cases we were introduced to the farmers while travelling in the region or through connections in the coffee industry,” Michael says. “In some cases, our coop is still the only buyer.”

Apart from their exclusive selection, Bean North sources only farmer friendly beans and the facility is the only roastary in northern Canada that is certified for organic processing.

 

Screen shot 2014-03-18 at 2.51.05 PMCoffeeCollective members received the following two roasts in their packages this month.

Colombian Fondo Paez

From the Cordillera Central region, this dark roast is brewing in the CoffeeCollective kitchen at this very moment. The coffee showcases notes of berry and wine under its rich and creamy body.

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Peruvian Canchaque Natural

A lighter roast from northern Peru. The coffee has sweet and fragrant aromas that trail onto the palate with ripe berry and cocoa notes.

 

When selecting beans, Michael says there are many farming practices that Bean North looks for. Traditional and organic practices such as “under the forest canopy,” and natural fertilization is considered as well as how the beans are dried, depending on the region.

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Members who received this month’s package, be sure to leave your comments and ratings on the site! For those without a subscription, sign up today or visit CoffeeCollective’s online store to purchase this months feature or BeanNorth.com for their full range of roasts.


Preparing for your best cup of joe with CoffeeCollective

If you haven’t heard yet, WineCollective has a new brainchild that is warming the taste buds of beverage lovers, before noon. CoffeeCollective is our latest club, where members receive 2 lbs of fresh roasted beans from a featured Canadian roaster each month. If you have yet to check out the coffee club, then we suggest you do. In the meantime, here is a blog post to make you crave a hot steaming cup of coffee.

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Not all coffee tastes the same. In fact, there are many elements in preparing your cup of joe, beyond the roast, that will effect the overall quality and taste of your coffee.

Fortunately, we at CoffeeCollective want to make sure you have all the information necessary to make a great cup of coffee. Being aware of the following five fundamental requirements to coffee making with ensure just that.

 

Equipment

Make sure you thoroughly clean your coffee maker between each use. It doesn’t matter if you use a Drip Brew or French Press, a build up of coffee grounds or oil will make your coffee taste bitter.

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Coffee

For the best cup of coffee, make sure your beans are freshly roasted. If your bag is left open for more than 2 weeks you will notice a strong difference in taste. CoffeeCollective only buys the freshest beans from our featured roasters. If you need to store your coffee, put the tightly sealed bag in the freezer and remove beans for a weeks use.

Grind

For a consistent size in your coffee grounds use a Burr or Mill grinder. Grinding your coffee beans right before brew time will give you the best results for a hearty mug. Depending on your brewing method, adjust your grind to suit. Over grinding your coffee will make it over extracted and leave a bitter taste while under grinding will under extract your beans making the coffee taste flat. A helpful tip: rub grinds in between your fingers to feel out your preferred grind. Never reuse coffee grinds.

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Water

Do not use tap, distilled or softened water for making coffee as it typically contains chlorine or a slight odour. Use filtered water instead and heat to 35°C or just after boil.

Coffee to Water

Use 1 Tbs of coffee per 6 ounces of water. Maintaining this coffee to ratio balance will help you always to prepare a hearty and flavourful cup.

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Be sure to enjoy your coffee right after its brewed for its best aroma and taste. You can also keep your coffee in an insulated travel mug for up to two hours without loosing too much flavour. While these steps may seem amateur, many coffee lovers overlook the simple inconsistencies that alter the taste of their coffee.  Following these simple steps, we guarantee will put you one step closer to preferring your own home brew and avoiding a crowded Tim Horton’s drive-thru.

 

To enjoy premium coffee roasts from small Canadian houses, check out CoffeeCollective today. We invite WineCollective members to use the coupon code WINECOLLECTIVE15 for $15 off your first CoffeeCollective shipment.


Spring Time Beer

Hello WineCollective. This is Jeremy Foster from Beertopia bringing you up-to-date as to what’s happening in and around Alberta in terms of Craft Beer. As a contributing member of CAMRA (The Campaign for Real Ale) for over 17 years I have come to love craft beer and the people that brew it. We all know the big international beers can be pretty tasty but I like to stick close to home and keep things local. Beers produced in Western Canada are now being honored as some of the best beer on the planet. My goal with Beertopia is to help bring people to new beers… pretty simple right? I thought so. So let’s get down to business – Spring Time Beer!

Spring time is when many micro-breweries in Canada bring out their best beers. Typically a 12-pack sampler is released with 3 regular-lineup brews and a seasonal. This year is no exception with Okanagan Spring Brewery‘s Craft Variety Pack. This sampler contains the always popular Spring Pale Ale, the 1516 Lager, the Brewmaster’s Black Lager and the new seasonal Hopped Lager. If you are a lover of darker beers, the Black Lager is excellent with a great coffee, roasted malt flavor up front with a very clean, smooth and a slight hop finish. The Hopped Lager is definitely a session beer for those warm spring or summer days with a crisp lager taste up front and a strong but not too bitter hop finish.

Another excellent sampler to look for is the Half Pints Brewing Sampler pack. This brewery situated in Winnipeg, Manitoba has been turning heads with its unique craft beers as of late and if you haven’t tried any of their beers, their sampler is for you. This sampler consists of the St. James Pale Ale, Little Scrapper IPA, Bulldog Amber Ale and the new Stir Stick Stout.

With Spring time comes BBQ season and what better way to compliment your “grillables” than with some excellent local craft beer. We all know how good it is to wash down some steak or kabobs with your favorite pilsner but many people haven’t approached cooking with the same beer! Some ideas are to marinate your steak or pork tenderloin with a heavier stout or porter while chicken can be soaked in a hefeweizen or a spicier Saison. The ever popular “beer can chicken” is also a great way to guarantee perfectly grilled meat while impressing your friends with your grilling ingenuity.

Spring is also an exciting season for Beer Events in Calgary with the annual Calgary Beer Festival and a new premises opening for Craft Beer Lovers. The Calgary International Beer Festival ran May 27-28 at the Big Four building in Stampede Park. This year boasted some great breweries from out-of-province such as Mt. Begbie Brewing from Revelstoke B.C., Laughing Dog Brewery from Ponderay, Idaho and (a big favorite of mine) Bowen Island Brewery from B.C.

The Craft Beer Market is a new tap-house boasting over 100 taps of craft and internationally famous beers. Located beside The Whiskey nightclub in the old Mother Tucker’s premises, Craft Beer Market (opening June 1, 2011 – today!) will be a haven for connoisseurs of craft brewed beer.

However you decide to spend the warm evenings during the Spring time in Calgary – remember to think local and drink local!