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Small Business Success: Local Coffee Roasters

Small Business Success: Local Coffee Roasters

Spearheading Thunder Bay’s third wave coffee movement, local roasters are bringing your morning fix to a new level. Locally roasted coffee is as fresh as it gets; starting out as green beans that are imported from all over the world and then roasted right here in town before it is ground up and brewed for you to enjoy. The Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC) and Thunder Bay & District Entrepreneur Centre have helped numerous small businesses find their way to success, including three of Thunder Bay’s best coffee roasters.

Rose N Crantz Roasting Company
Rose N Crantz Roasting Company Love the coffee you drink and drink the coffee you love – that’s the mantra of Jamie Nichols, founder of Rose N Crantz Roasting Company. RnCRC roasts coffee in small, artisanal batches for commercial and retail sales.

Jamie believes that purchasing fresh, locally roasted coffee soon after the roast date is the first step to great coffee. A true coffee enthusiast, his mission is to get people to brew a better cup of coffee, and he doesn’t mind helping them along the way. Jamie provides coffee consulting and equipment advice for restaurants and businesses. He has also been known to give talks on coffee and the coffee industry to professional groups, meetings, and classes.

“My corporate clients really appreciate the time I spend with them to help them find the best brewers and equipment and educate their staff on serving the best cup they can,” says Jamie. “A cup of coffee is often the last thing restaurant goers will have, so it’s important for them to leave with a good taste in their mouths.”

Jamie began roasting when his favourite Edmonton brew became too expensive to import. What started as a hobby quickly grew through word of mouth and developed into a full time operation. With help from the Entrepreneur Centre and CEDC, he was able to access grants and helpful contacts. He continues to receive free information, consulting, and advice from the Entrepreneur Centre during his ongoing expansion and business development.

Rose N Crantz can be purchased and/or enjoyed at many establishments around Thunder Bay, including but not limited to: Sweet Escape Cake Café and Bakery, Waking Giant (Thunder Bay Country Market), Espresso JOYA, Vitality Natural Food Market, Bay Village Coffee, Bight Restaurant and Bar, The Study Coffee House (Lakehead University), Red Lion Smokehouse, Belluz Farms, and Sleeping Giant Brewing Co. Weekly deliveries ensure the coffee is fresh and at its best when you are sitting down to enjoy your perfect cup.

St Paul Roastery
St Paul Roastery St Paul Roastery is uniquely also a café. With the roaster onsite in the café, your cup of coffee is served as fresh as possible, as the newly roasted beans travel the shortest distance (only a few steps) before they are ground up and brewed fresh on-demand. “Since we are the serving the coffee we roast, we also have direct control over the types of coffee we bring in and variations in roasts, such as our recently added feature coffee,” tells Cameron Reid, co-owner of St Paul Roastery. Cameron also says that because St Paul is both a roastery and café, they have more control over their costs and pricing. “We think good coffee should be enjoyed by anyone, and roasting our own allows us to offer our coffee as affordably as we can.”

Owners Cameron Reid and Stefan Pakylak are high school friends who began roasting as a hobby. Increasing requests from friends and relatives led them to invest in a commercial roaster, and thus the business was born. Cameron and Stefan accessed Entrepreneur Centre services to get assistance with grant applications and form a business plan.

Located in Thunder Bay’s downtown, St Paul Roastery is the namesake of one of the city’s most cultured streets. Beautiful reclaimed wood illuminates the café’s interior complemented by an exposed brick wall and original hardwood floor. Patrons enjoy music playing from the neighbouring records store.

St Paul Roastery coffee can be purchased by the bag to be ground up and enjoyed at home. It can also be enjoyed at other local establishments such as Tomlin Restaurant, Sovereign Room, The Foundry, Nook, In Common, Blueberry Hill, Prime Gelato, and Excuria.

Wolfhead Coffee
St Paul Roastery Dan Dampier is a mechanical engineer by trade but his love of coffee and his entrepreneurial spirit led him to coffee roasting. He converted his garage into a coffee roastery in 2014, and he hasn’t looked back.

In the early days, Dan took advantage of the services at the Thunder Bay & District Entrepreneur Centre. They provided free start-up advice and also connected him with other entrepreneurial support organizations. From these, he accessed grant funding to offset some of his start-up costs.

Wolfhead Coffee is named after the shape of Lake Superior. Using ethically sourced beans from most of the specialty coffee growing regions—Central and South America, Indonesia, Africa—Dan uses a range of roasting, smoking, and natural flavouring techniques to create Wolfhead’s unique range of coffees. The signature smoked coffee, for example, is created simply by smoking roasted coffee beans over natural woodchips in a custom-built coffee smoker.

Dan also provides clients with customized roasts, tweaking small batches until the desired taste is achieved. Corporate clients such as Up Shot Coffeehouse serve an exclusive Wolfhead roast.

Dan tells, “Up Shot wanted a roast all their own, so I customized a few batches for us to sample. Between samples, we made small adjustments to each batch until we settled on a nice, smooth dark roast for the new café. People are absolutely loving the Up Shot Blend.”

Wolfhead Coffee is served at the Organic Garden Cafe and by Redhead and the Chef at the Thunder Bay Country Markets. It can be bought by the bag (decaf available) at Georges Market and at over 40 other locations throughout the city. Find Wolfhead Coffee on Facebook for the complete list.

Thinking of starting your own business? Or maybe you’d like to improve the business you already have? The Thunder Bay and District Entrepreneur Centre offers FREE and confidential services to help small businesses start up, expand, and succeed. They provide one-to-one counseling, consulting, assistance with business planning, comprehensive referrals, and access to information, resources and training. They also provide free workshops and seminars. Call (807)625-3960 or visit to book an appointment.