Part of a series about the Annapolis Royal Winter Farmers Market, written by Valerie Davies.
Sissiboo Coffee Roasters – Jonathan Welch & Erin Schopfer
by Valerie Davies
After a fifteen year love affair with tree planting out west, Jonathan Welch found himself drawn back to the province where he grew up ready to try and create his own employment. His obsession with the perfect cup of coffee and the fact that there were no local coffee roasters in Southwest Nova Scotia made it seem like a natural fit to start Sissiboo Coffee Roaster. Jon and his wife Erin purchased the historic Elta Rebekah Lodge in Bear River 2009 and amidst renovations began roasting micro batches (about 5 pounds at a time) of certified fair trade organic Arabica green beans. In the beginning the green beans arrived in 50 pound boxes via Canada Post; today they arrive by pallet, 3600 pounds at a time. The Turkish-made roaster rotates the beans in a propane-heated drum and Jon controls the temperature, time and airflow to create roast profiles for each origin. Once roasted, the beans are bagged into compostable kraft paper bags where they are best brewed within a month.
Coffee roasting is both art and science. Before the beans ever reach Canada there is an immense amount of hard work that goes into their cultivation, harvest and preparation for market from coffee producers around the world. As one of the most heavily traded commodities in the world, coffee producers have long been oppressed by inequality. The fair trade movement of the last few decades has worked hard to improve the quality of life for farmers, their families, communities, and the environment that surrounds them. Paying a fairer price for green beans effects everything from the quality of life for producers and their communities to the taste of the coffee in your cup. Fair trade certification aims to enable farmers to access better prices, decent working conditions and fair terms of trade. Sissiboo Coffee Roaster sources certified fair trade organic beans from six different countries, Nicaragua, Honduras, Ethiopia, Sumatra, Peru and Mexico.
Sissiboo Coffee Roaster started selling coffee in the first year of the Winter Market at the Historic Gardens in 2010. Jon and Erin give a lot of credit to strong market support for the success of their business. It gave them consistent cash flow while they began to increase the range of their wholesale business. Today, they have two coffee bars, one in Annapolis Royal on St. George Street and one in Bear River in the front of the roaster. They employ between eight and ten people and their beans can be found in stores and cafes throughout the Maritimes.
The Annapolis Royal Winter Farmers Market runs every Saturday morning, 9-12, from mid October through mid May at the Historic Gardens.