A New Cafe for Calgary and a Chat with the Co-Founders!
HEY CALGARY! Yes, YOU!
This Saturday, June 1st, something really exciting is happening: Calgary Heritage Roasting Company is opening their own cafe + roaster in Ramsay!
Yeah - this is HUGE! How huge? Well, before we left Canada, we had the absolute pleasure of chatting with Mike Wenzlawe and Jamie Parker, CHRC Co-founders, to find out.
Here’s a quick background for those of you not quite familiar with their story…
Mike and Jamie met while they were both wildland firefighting in Alberta. While they were spending long periods of time out in the wilderness keeping the heat under wraps, they developed a deep understanding and passion for the nature around them and the outdoors. They even learnt how to roast green coffee beans in a cast iron pan over a campfire! This sparked something within them - an opportunity, an idea to shake the coffee industry. This experience of creating and drinking liquid gold in such a rugged and raw way was so profound to them that they wanted to share it with the world. And so, Calgary Heritage Roasting Company was born.
The roasting process had humble beginnings, starting out in a family member’s garage and many sleepless nights figuring out how the heck to start a roasting company. But the underlying value of supplying the world with an approachable and adventurous brand of coffee was the driving force that has brought them from that place to where they are today.
Along the way they took on their superstar director of operations, Ali, who also shared their vision and drive: a move that thrust the business from one success to the next. Ali’s experience, work ethic and one-of-a-kind skill set was the perfect fit and allowed the company to grow further. Soon after, they opened a pop-up and took on two more staff with shared vision and determination. I was lucky enough to be one of these staff members and can honestly say they were the best company I have ever worked for. Calgary Heritage Roasting Co. has, and always will have, a huge place in my heart.
Two guys with huge amounts of determination and drive have grasped the outdoors, put it in a deliciously smooth caffeinated beverage and, as of this Saturday, has a place to call home.
“Snowdon to me, two years ago, was going to be the catalyst to make CHRC what it deserves to be. I think it still is that and I think it is a very important piece in creating the true vision of our company,” Jamie explained, when asked what Snowdon means to him then and now.
“From the get go, we’ve always wanted to create a product and an experience that elicits an emotional response and without this (Snowdon) we wouldn't fully be able to accomplish that.
I didn’t realise how much I would be in it as I am today and I’m very grateful that I have been able to be.
Mike and I have really bootstrapped this entire company from the get go and I don’t think those values have ever been forgotten, even to this point. I think every step you take in business, you continually throw it all back on the line. This is just another example of us doing that. I have been in here (Snowdon) for two months, almost every single day, and asking Mike and Ali and friends to come in after hours and help us paint and help us get this place together. It being an old building, everything has had to be sanded down, stripped, scraped and painted over again. It’s been a lot of work and a lot of effort. We are really excited to showcase this to Calgary. This is what we think Calgary is and this is what we think needs to happen in this City.”
Exhaustion hasn’t phased either of the guys. They have thrown themselves wholeheartedly into the entire process of building and actualizing their dream and their drive is so strong that there is no sign of them hitting any walls.
“You run out of money before you run out of passion. And if you run out of passion, you’re done… We are full up on passion.” Even at this stage of the build, Mike’s energy and enthusiasm hasn’t wavered. “Even the harder and more stressful stuff just feels fun. I haven’t once thought ‘shit, should we be doing this?’ or ‘Is this a bad idea?’”
Jamie even said that he would do it all over again and work even harder if needed.
You will definitely find the heart and soul of these two ex wildland firefighters in this cafe.
“I want the customers to feel like I feel walking into the space and I think that’s been a huge benchmark for anything that we do. We roast the coffee we roast, we’re into the merchandise that we do because its things that we want personally. We’re not trying to be something for somebody else, we’re not trying to be someone we’re not.
Everything we do has cause and effect because if it doesn’t feel right, if we don’t want it then we’re not doing it. If we start to do something that maybe we don’t like as much then we back off and we pivot really quickly.
I already know the feeling that I’m going to have and I would love for any customer to walk through and have that same feeling. To have that product and experience that elicits an emotional response. Everyone’s experience is different but there’s parts that they’re going to appreciate in the space as much as we do.”
Jamie continued on from Mike by explaining, “I just want it to be something that nobody has experienced in this city before. I want it to be a very welcoming environment. One of our goals from the very beginning was to strip the coffee community of its pretentiousness and I think we are going to do that with this space. You come in - you’re family right away.
We want to showcase, what we feel, is the good old Calgary and we want that to radiate through other people. When you come to Calgary and you say ‘hey, where is the best coffee shop to go?’ we hope that it’s a common word that people say: ‘Calgary Heritage’”.
Mike, Jamie and Ali also intend on utilizing the space to showcase local artists and other local businesses. They want to create an environment that brings people together and celebrates what it means to be family and to be a part of Calgary. The common desire amongst them is for people to feel comfortable, wanted and appreciated from the time they walk through the doors to the time they leave. Even taking that culture with them as they go out into the community.
The official opening of the CHRC cafe is this Saturday June 1st at the Snowdon building in Ramsay: (2020 11th Street SE, opposite Dandy Brewing Company).
Get yourself there to join in the festivities, support this awesome local company and try Calgary’s best cup of coffee!