Coffee crops are one of the worst when it comes to the amount of pesticides sprayed, according to Karma Coffee’s Rob Wesson.
And that’s one of the reasons Karma Coffee sells and brews certified organic coffee, he said.
“I think as a species, if we want to carry on, we’re going to have to use a little more sustainable and organic practices,” said Wesson, who owns Karma Coffee in Coombs with his partner Melanie Van Der Stock.
Karma Coffee is also socially responsible. The farms that grow Karma’s beans are governed by at least one of the many socially responsible organizations including Fair Trade, Bird Friendly (SMBC) and Rainforest Alliance.
Fair Trade works to ensure farmers and artisans get a better deal, whether that means price-wise or trading relationships. Bird Friendly, labeled by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Centre, encourages production of shade-grown coffee, which helps conserve the environments of migratory birds. And the Rainforest Alliance is dedicated to the conservation of tropical forests.
Karma Coffee also supports local organizations like the Salvation Army, which has a great reputation for getting the majority of its money out to those who need it most, Wesson said.
“We’re a small fish in a big sea but (we have to) start someplace,” he said.
Wesson and Van Der Stock purchased Karma in 2007, after it had been in operation for 10 years. Wesson, who does all the roasting, tasting and blending, said he has continued with similar ethical and coffee blending practices as his predecessor with some tweaks. He also added a café to the operation last year, which sells a variety of coffees and baked goods including gluten-free.
Karma coffee is roasted on-site in small batches, which Wesson said makes a big difference.
“It’s like your grandmother, when she made her cookies in the oven and they tasted great. But if you go get manufactured cookies they don’t taste great. You lose something when you become industrialized, I think.”
Wesson uses two roasters, his smaller drum roaster, which has the heat source underneath and rotates so the beans don’t burn. And then he has a hybrid drum and air roaster, which he’s quite fond of.
“If you cut open (a bean) that is done in a drum, you’ll see it will be darker on the outside. With this (hybrid roaster) it’s a more uniform colour. “
Wesson sells his signature beans in grocery stores around the Island, on the Gulf Islands, in Vancouver and in a few other B.C. locations. He also brings in limited edition beans and experiments with blending.
When taste testing, he looks for aroma, taste, body acidity (brightness) and after-taste. And he likes the espresso beans that create a nice creme.
The most fun part about owning Karma Coffee is getting to meet new people, he said, especially now with the café.
Karma Coffee also extends a hand to those down on their luck with their version of the “suspended coffee club” idea that has been trending coffee shops around the world.
Customers can come into Karma’s coffee shop at 2458 Alberni Hwy in Coombs and pay it forward, by asking for a suspended cup or treat, along with their order. That item will be recorded and those who are down on their luck can come in and ask if there is any “suspended Karma” available.
For more visit www.karmacoffee.com, find them on Facebook and Twitter, or call 250-248-7312.