One Year Old

With a road trip to Seattle, we marked the occasion.

A year ago we bought our roaster.

Pop the cork and pour the champagne!

Battle Grounds turns one, tomorrow.

This past year, we roasted over eleven hundred pounds of coffee. Found some loyal customers who inspire us with their own interesting stories. Found ourselves welcomed into a dynamic and passionate little community of entrepreneurs. And put every penny we earned back into the business.

This year ahead, we have some big plans, including a move, merch, (thank you to those who’ve been asking) and more trips to origin to find you even more interesting coffees.

Glasses raised.

So…
to those who have tried our coffee…
to those who have followed us on Social…
to those who have given us encouraging words…
to Dennis and Sheri and Hannah and Bailey…
to our customers…
to our families…
thank you.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BATTLE GROUNDS!!

Beginnings

We’ll be celebrating an anniversary next week.

Nearly one year ago, Steven and I were in Seattle touring third wave coffee shops and, obviously, had to visit Starbucks Reserve. Oh, my.

The thing that Steven is constantly reminding me about (because I forget everything) is that coffee is only a part of the universe we live in. And if we become more aware of the universe, we automatically become better coffee people.

#1. universe
#2. coffee

This is what this week’s photo is about.
Taste everything you can.
Smell with purpose. Breathe deeply and try to remember. Make aroma maps in your mind.
Be random in your choices.
Don’t order the same thing each time you visit a restaurant. Or cafe. Or Public Market.

Almost a year ago, Steven started Battle Grounds with Mauricio and me. We started it with nearly no money and so far have put every single penny back into it. The fact that we’re still going, a year later, with a community of people supporting us, and with coffee we are insanely proud to share with others, is so darned delightful, that – well, if you will pardon us for a week or so – we just have to celebrate.

If we don’t celebrate the milestones along the way, the trip will mean little at the end.

I asked Steven if we could give away a year’s worth of coffee as a celebratory prize. He loved the idea. We’re going to have a contest. Stay tuned.

Thank you for your interest in, and support of, our little coffee project.

Battle Grounds Coffee Co & Roastery
~Dan

 

Elecciones

This past Sunday, Costa Ricans went to the polls. Election time in Costa Rica is different than here.

For starters, election days are held on Sundays. Originally called, ‘fiesta electoral’, everybody celebrates. And pretty much everybody votes. Even children vote (though their votes are not counted officially). Think about this.

Mauricio voted. He sent Steven and I a bunch of lovely photos of the festivities from around San Jose. Face painting, costumes, flags on cars. In the beautiful photo above, people are waiting to vote. They stand in front of school classrooms in the late afternoon sun. Schools are used as polling stations and young students help with whatever needs to be done.

This year the country voted in a different direction. The people are shaking things up. The governing political party took a massive hit. Two outsiders almost neck and neck are forcing a run-off election, April 1. The run-off election is normal. It’s in their constitution. The contest will be between Fabricio Alvarado Muñoz a Christian singer and congressman, and Carlos Alvarado Quesada, a writer and former minister.

Costa Rica is important to us. Both Steven and Mauricio were born and raised there. They both grew up on coffee farms. They’ve known each other most of their lives. Costa Rica is our home base for our Central American coffee imports. We consider the Costa Rican coffees to be among the best in the world. We want the country to do well.

Pura vida!

 

Battle Grounds Coffee Co & Roastery
~Dan

Latitude and Longitude

battle grounds coffee costa rica

You need both coordinates. If you want to get somewhere.

Steven and Mauricio were born and raised in Costa Rica. They’re both coffee people. As were their fathers. And their grandfathers.

Shortly after I met Steven, he asked me if I liked coffee. I boldly told him that coffee was my second religion. Little did I know I was like someone who ran once in a while telling a three-time triathlon champion that I was quite into sports.

To be fair, I was being honest. I did consider myself to be a hardcore coffee lover. I drank it day and night. Unaffected by caffeine, I can have three cups of coffee right before bed, then, within a couple of minutes, be straight off to slumber for a solid eight. I do not need it in the morning to wake up. For me coffee is to be enjoyed, consciously, ceremoniously, for the taste, as often as possible, and whenever possible in the company of others.

One day in 2015, Steven left a small Ziplok bag on my desk with a note on it. The note read: “with reverence”. I had always used a French press. Steven recommended I get an Aeropress for this one. I did. I waited a couple of weekends until I had a Saturday free and clear. That morning, as the sun filled my apartment, I pressed that cup of coffee. I walked over to the balcony and slid the door open. It was March. About plus nine in the sheltered sun. I stepped outside. One sip later and the world had changed.

I had ever only bought grocery store coffee. “So this is what coffee is supposed to taste like!” I declared. I had no idea there was a whole other roasted world out there to explore.

Fast forward nearly three years and I am a co-owner of this cool little coffee roasting company. Tasked with telling its story through a full-immersion experiential program, including classes in botany, chemistry, physics, culture, economics, geography, relationships, politics, Spanish, and history. My thesis will be on buying coffee. I will earn my degree when I, by myself, shake hands with a farmer over my first purchase of green coffee.

I am in no rush. Tens of thousands of people are buying and selling coffee every day. Coffee has been with us for millennia. It will be here for millennia. The world does not need another coffee purchaser, but there’s always room for one more. However, this story is about something more. It’s about making the impossible happen, not by ourselves, but together.

Coffee is the vehicle. People are the journey. Community is the destination.

I’ve always known the latitudes I want to live between. Now I know the longitude. And how I’ll get there. And when I do, I will stand on this same mountain and take this same photo that Steven did. And right after I take it, I will toss my hat into the air.

-Dan
Battle Grounds Coffee Co & Roastery

 

PS. Steven took this photo. It’s from Finca La Florida in San Pedro de Poas. It’s owner is Francisco Flores. A 5th generation coffee farmer. He’s one of the most influential coffee people in Costa Rica. 

Why We Roast #3

shift_happens

Pepper Harlton fixes bikes.

And so much more.

Coffee is the vehicle. People are the journey. Community is the destination.

Along with her business partner mom, this three-time, Women’s National Cyclocross, silver medal winning, certified bike mechanic – who also happens to hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Phys-Ed with a minor in Coaching – is plotting to bring even more cycling prestige to the town of Devon, Alberta. With plans that extend into 2020, they’ve definitely supplied ‘Bike-town’ with the spoke-blurring swagger that makes it legit.

This is community building on a macro level.

This past October, when Pepper asked us if we could come up with a “Champion Blend” for the Puncheur event they organized in Voyageur park, Steven was on it. It was our pleasure.

It was our pleasure because, in addition to being great supporters themselves, they were the first to offer to carry and sell our bags of roasted coffee.  Steven was well aware of the special bond cyclists had with coffee, but I was about to learn another lesson in ‘parings’. #bikesandcoffee (also, #bikesandbeer, but that’s for another post).

So, Pepper, whether it’s all the young people you help and steer toward lives of health and sport, or the athletes you inspire with your dedication, or the little coffee roasters you encourage with a valuable slice of your front counter, let us thank you for the ‘Her’culean effort, and for letting us follow you along this crazy, off-road trail of achievement.

Follow Shift Happens Bicycle Repair and Pepper Harlton here: Facebook, Instagram, and visit their shop here: Google Maps

Why We Roast #2

noorish

This story starts, not with coffee, but with kombucha.

The first time Steven and I went to lunch at Noorish | Conscious Eatery and Yoga Studio, Dustin was our server. Steven and I can not remember being better served in a restaurant. All their servers are rock stars. (or poets, or authors)

If you’ve never been to Noorish, I implore you. There’s no place like it in Edmonton. A soothing elixir of beautiful surroundings, intoxicating aromas, intuitive servers and a kitchen full of alchemists. The menu is magnificent and there are almost always surprises. They never rush you out of your seat. They often start lovely conversations that leave you thinking for days. And, if you allow it to, time itself will stop while you’re there. Let me know if I’ve oversold the place, but I don’t think I did.

So, how kombucha? Battle Grounds has a connection with Effervescent Tea Kombucha and as a result of that connection we found our first restaurant customer. The challenge? Create a special blend of coffee that would extract an espresso that could be used to make fine vegan coffee beverages (no easy task) and another, for drip. That will soon be a year ago.

Coffee is the vehicle. People are the journey. Community is the destination.

To this day, a visit to Noorish brings a mix of pride and belonging. We make something that contributes to the experience in a way that makes us part of their community. And their community is so damn interesting.

Namaste.

Follow Noorish here: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and find them here: Google Maps

Also, if you have not yet tried ETK’s Ginger Lemonade Kombucha, you should.

Why We Roast #1

Cory Woytkiw rocks.

He and his wife Mandy, the kind of person who can light up a room with her superpower smile, own and run Frickin’ Delights Donuts in Devon. It’s a rad little vegan donut shop that pushes the boundary of what healthy donuts can taste like. You have to try one. They also happen to sell our coffee.

Coffee is the vehicle. People are the journey. Community is the destination.

I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what it is with these two. Steven introduced himself one day and started talking about roasting coffee and the next thing I know I was entering their company info in our invoicing software.

All I’ve been able to glean so far is that they make insanely delicious donuts, know everything about Star Wars, sometimes work around the clock, contribute to the community and want everyone to succeed. They’ve been featured in newspaper articles and appeared on local television shows.

I think we need to get them on a podcast.

Learn more here: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, find them here: Google Maps

Do you like good coffee? You might like out Signature Blend. You can order it here. The only place you can get our Frickin’ Delights roast is there.

First cup of coffee…

We three amigos talk about the memory of our first coffee experience.

Steven…

My first memories of drinking coffee are from a time when everything was still over-sized from my perspective . . . The chairs were huge, the tables were high, and my eyes barely peeked over the ledge to see the delicious breakfast my grandmother would lavishly serve when we visited her.

It was my grandfather’s mission to get me to like coffee; he wanted me to grow “strong and smart”, which back then, in Costa Rica, was associated with coffee.  But he drank his coffee black with salt!  Not exactly the “flavor profile” a four year old kid was hoping for!!  It was my grandmother who knew how to win me over to the wonders of caffeine.  She would serve my coffee in those colorful, sturdy, plastic glasses, which were so popular in the 70’s, and she would pour a bit of strong percolated brew into a ton of delicious whole-milk.  To this she added ‘the key ingredient’ sugar, and set it next to my delicious plate of “gallo-pinto”, eggs and warm tortillas. . .  perfection!

Mauricio…

My family came from a beautiful, rural area in Costa Rica called Turrialba.  Although it is only 60km from San Jose, when I was a child, it could take more than four hours to navigate the winding roads that threaded their way up and down the volcanic mountain ranges; past coffee and sugarcane plantations, dairy farms and the occasional ox cart full of ripe coffee. I loved that there were always friendly people waving at the cars as they passed.

In my country, drinking coffee is more of a cultural happening, than just a beverage.  School vacations coincide with the coffee harvest, so that everyone can pitch in.  It has always been a family event and can be tons of fun!  If you are ever in Costa Rica, go pick some coffee. The fiscal year ends with the end of the coffee harvest.  By law, the work day is broken up by fifteen minute rest periods – morning and afternoon – we call them “Periodo de Café” which means coffee time!  And when a group of friends or family is planning to get together, we say “let’s go have coffee” even if it is not going to be consumed. It just means “let’s be together and enjoy one another”.

I had to ask my older siblings about the time I first drank coffee, as I can’t really remember.  They told me that my mom would sit me on the high chair at the table and serve me warm buttered bread with a mug of coffee in milk, and then send me off to school.

Dan…

My first cup of coffee… was during lunch, one bitter winter, at my grandparents’ farmhouse in southwest Manitoba. I was ten. I had been watching the adults scoop teaspoons-full of Maxwell House Instant coffee for some time. They used to tear the foil only half way so as to leave the other half sealed to the top of the jar, as a leveling tool. I always thought that was clever. Some would then add sugar and stir. As the dark fragrant mixture swirled, they’d add a drop or three of milk. The kitchen had worn linoleum on the floor and a wood-fired, heavy enamel stove. The stove was the only source of heat in this part of the house. Kitchens were separate from the main structures back then. Necessity. You didn’t want your cookstove in the house during those blistering prairie summers. The sun was out but summer was still a long way off. The men and I kept our snowboots on and our one-piece snowsuits unzipped and off to our waists. My grandfather asked me if I’d like a cup of coffee with my sandwich. My eyes went wide. I looked at my dad. My mother chimed in about coffee stunting my growth. I looked back at my grandfather and gave him a timid nod. I can’t remember how long I had waited to finally taste coffee. I always loved the smell. Grandpa got up to get me a mug from the cupboard and gestured toward the jar. I took a spoon and a scoop and asked if it was enough. My mother said, “a little less.” I added it to my mug. Grampa reached for the kettle on the stove and poured the boiling water over the freeze dried grounds. I asked if I could add sugar. Yes. I did as I’d watched hundreds of times before. I asked if I should add milk. Yes. I did. Everyone was watching me. I smelled. I was warned it was hot. I smiled, closed my eyes, and took my first ever sip of coffee.

What’s your ‘first cup of coffee’ story? Comment below.

Stop sprinting

You’re running a marathon, not a sprint.

Note to self: Stop thinking and acting like you’re doing the hundred meter dash. The finish line is nowhere in sight. I’m talking about your life, your career, your business, your pursuits. Slow down. Catch your breath. Find your pace. Then look around. You won’t see the finish line, but you will see all kinds of interesting things, supportive people, cheering people, and people running beside you. Yes, your feet hurt. It’s okay. It’s part of the process.

Side pains, sore feet, muscle cramps, thoughts of giving up – could be symptoms of a long distance race, or, could be symptoms of entrepreneurialism. I know. This is not my first time.

I’ve run these kinds of metaphorical races before. But never managed to finish. Same story each time. I started out too fast and wouldn’t listen to anyone who said, “slow down.” Of course, had I listened and slowed down, followed my advice in the second paragraph, I probably would have finished, and finished strong. Can I go back. No. Can I heed that advice, right here, right now. Yes I can.

These coffee businesses, Battle Grounds and Coffea Reciproca are 9 year projects. We’re half-way into year one. We had a heck of a start. We’re a little ahead at the moment, but I know, soon, our feet will start to hurt. That pain will be confirmation that we are indeed in ‘marathon mode’ and the only things we need to do are: keep running, look around at all the cool things, and enjoy the people around us.

See you at the finish line.

Battle Grounds Coffee Co & Roastery
~Dan

 

 

Not the greatest

Maybe you run, but you’re not the greatest runner. Maybe you sing, but you’re not the greatest singer. Maybe your thing is baking, but you know better bakers. Maybe there’s someone you consider, right now, to be the greatest ever at what they do. But it’s not you. It may never be you.

Right on!

We don’t ever have to be the greatest at what we do. We just have to do. Every possible thing you or your spirit could ever need can be found in the ‘doing’. That’s it. Do, and you qualify. Do, and you’re part of the community. Do, and you’ll have a lifetime of fulfillment.

As we bid farewell to the era of specialization and welcome the era of DIY, the only thing that matters now is that you be true to what you do. Do with honesty. Do with conviction. Do with love.

By all means, be inspired by the greatest among us, but let your recognition of what’s great help you celebrate your place among those who are doing, too.

Battle Grounds Coffee Co & Roastery
~Dan