Kevin & Raf
“We wanted to roast because we wanted to feel intimately connected to and responsible for our product.”
Tucked away in an unsuspectingly tranquil corner behind a park in East Vancouver lies the original Matchstick location opened by founders Spencer and Annie in 2011. Back then, the specialty coffee scene was still largely in its infant stage and having worked in the coffee industry for a number of years, they saw their opportunity to build their legacy. The idea of being a roaster on top of serving seriously good coffee started as nothing more than a hypothetical “wouldn’t it be nice…” but that quickly turned into reality with their desire to showcase the potential of coffee.
“We wanted to roast because we wanted to feel intimately connected to and responsible for our product. We wanted to be partners with the producers responsible for growing the green coffee; and we wanted a deeper connection to the subtle details that so dramatically affect the end product of roasted coffee.”
The moment you step foot into the brightly lit cafe, your senses are hit by the smell of freshly roasted coffee and baked goods, and the sounds of chill indie from the hanging speakers blended with the white noise of their espresso machine and friendly conversation. At the front of the café is the beautifully minimal space highlighted by a long communal wooden bench, but towards the back is where the roasting magic happens and where you would likely find Matchstick Headroaster Kevin and Raf, the duo behind the bags of freshly roasted coffee. Unlike many roasters who hide their roasting facilities in a non-public back office, Matchstick has chosen to go in the complete opposite direction. Their Giesen roaster sits in the middle of an open room with a quiet churning hum bringing curious minds to observe the process and an open invitation for questions. In fact, the whole space has been designed to promote education. The openness of the design is not just for aesthetics but serves to give customers a look into the process of each function that forms the ecosystem of Matchstick. Everything from watching the bakers bake, the roasters roast, and the details of what goes into each individually brewed cup offers customers a chance to gain a better understanding of all that’s involved. And in talking with the crew at Matchstick, they aren’t just educators but they’re also constantly learning to push themselves closer and closer to impossible to reach state of perfection.
“We are focusing on finding coffees of a high calibre, and roasting them so thoughtfully that they demand the question "Where did this come from?" If we can encourage this question in our community, we're doing something right. Once people start becoming curious about what distinguishes one coffee from another, we're strengthening the line between our consumption of that coffee and the people who produce it. To us, the only way for this to happen in a sustainable way is to recognize and celebrate truly amazing coffee. If we begin to give credence to outstanding coffee, we prevent the people responsible for that coffee from becoming invisible.
When people purchase our products, we want to illuminate their direct contribution to a well-researched and vetted supply chain, which takes into account as many pieces of the puzzle as possible, and ultimately helps enrich the lives of everyone involved. It's a lot to try to fit into a small bag of coffee, but it's what makes this worthwhile. “
Matchstick has now expanded to 2 locations with a third just on the horizon and they continue to do great things for the Vancouver coffee scene. If you ever find yourself in Vancouver, make sure you plan for a visit.
About the coffeeGuatemala El Diamante
Upon completing a university degree, Patricia "Paty" Perez returned to her family's farm, El Diamente, to live with her mother, Auri, and run the farm. They primarily grow Caturra and Bourbon, although there are number of Maracaturra trees scattered around the farm. Her coffee is clearly exotic and more often resembles an African coffee profile than a Central American one.
The Karumundi produced by the Baragwi Farmers Co-op, named after the small village where it is located, lies just south of Mt. Kenya. Rich with volcanic soil, this region is recognized for a smooth body that supports the dynamic acidity which makes Kenyan coffees so unique. The Baragwi Cooperative has more than 16,000 registered members. These members are drawn from the 12 wet mills which form the society.