After five years of working for Midnight Sun Coffee Roasters, Katya McQueen purchased the roastery from owner and family friend, Zola Dore. With 17 years of MSCR under her belt, Zola was a coffee and business guru, passing on numerous lessons in “old school” roasting to Katya.
Soon after taking over, Katya realized the difficulties of trying to run the business end of the roastery, all while roasting the beans on her own. Eventually Katya’s entire family jumped on the coffee roasting bus and today, the roastery is completely family-run.
Katya’s brother, Micah, a former baker with natural foodie skills, became head roaster while sister Casey took on bookkeeping duties and roasting assistant. Steve, Katya’s husband, is known as the repairman and carpenter: “If we break it, he fixes it,” she said. Even more, mother Maarit is the in house baker and assists with packages and everyday to-do lists.
While Katya admits that having a family run business does propose challenges, she does see how each member has been able to create their own niche within the company.
“I like to think that as a family, we all have a common goal in mind,” Katya says. “To create a great product. To work in our community, and to be able to offer our wonderful product with excellent customer service.”
Family business ventures are also nothing new to MSCR as generations before over the past 30 years worked as puppet makers.
“I think it helped define us kids, and has helped to create a great working atmosphere for us as adults,” she says.
Photo by Mike Thomas / Yukon News
Another challenge our August CoffeeCollective feature faces is their remote location. Situated in the far north city of Whitehorse, shipping and receiving is not necessarily easy. Organization and planning is key to running this micro-roaster who maintains wholesale customers through out the Yukon and has previously showcased their roasts in Australia, New Zealand and Russia.
While they only roast small batches five times a week, MSCR has created over 40 roasts over the last few years. Beans are sourced through Royal Coffee and come from both organic and non-organic farms around the world.
In part of working with their community, Midnight Sun shares a warehouse with local bike shop, Icycle Sport. While space is limited for the roastery and café area, Katya says a marriage exists between cyclists and coffee that works perfectly in the city of Whitehorse.
Regardless of all of the daily challenges, MSCR manages to create beautifully roasted coffees. While small, Katya and her family learned to roast “without computers!” always leaving eyes, ears and natural intuition to do the work.
“We have a real passion for what we do. We hope you like our ‘roasted under the Midnight Sun’ coffees!”