“A friend of mine gave me an old Gaggia espresso machine, about 15 years ago.” Shared Geoff Polci, co-owner of the Toronto coffee roastery Propeller Coffee Co.
“I was never a coffee drinker before then. I started to read and learn about coffee – it became a bit of a hobby and then I became a home roaster.”
No more would the word “hobby” accurately describe what Geoff is doing at Propeller.
On July 25th 2014, far-removed from home roasting, Propeller Coffee opened the doors to their café & roaster retail location which is the next venture of Crema Café owner Geoff Polci & his business partner Losel Tethong.
Despite the fact that this venture is relatively new, they most definitely have a lot of experience to draw on to ensure everything runs smoothly.
In 2004, Geoff moved to Costa Rica with his wife to open a restaurant and he took responsibility over the coffee. He took it very seriously - sourcing coffee from a farm 2.5 hours from their restaurant and then doing whatever he could to make the coffee taste as great as possible.
“I brought the coffee back, sorted out all the defects myself, and roasted the coffee in the oven for the restaurant and used that same Gaggia machine and made espresso for our customers in the restaurant” he explains.
Fast forward 10 years later and that first-hand experience provides the basis for his impressive work ethic.
“You want to do a good job. There’s a lot of work that has gone into growing the coffee, harvesting it, processing it, shipping it, roasting it, and packaging it. To be part of that and serve it to people and have them appreciate it – that’s why I do it. That’s why I get up early every morning and come to work.”
However, that experience isn’t stopping him from pushing forward.
“Coffee is a fascinating drink all the way from seed to cup. There’s so much to learn. I’m learning so much every day. It’s exciting. It’s an inspiring field to be in.”
It took a few years before moving into the roasting space. After moving back to Canada from Costa Rica, he built up 4 successful cafes in Toronto (Crema Coffee). Roasting was the logical next step. One of the main reasons behind it all?
“I wanted the control.”
“I wanted to be able to source our own coffees. That’s our goals here, to source directly from the farm. I wanted to design my own espresso and roast it how I wanted to roast it. Since opening Crema it’s always been a goal.”
When you’re responsible for the brewing of the coffee and also the roasting you have full control over the entire customer experience. The baristas and roasters can work together to figure out the proper way to dial in the coffee and create the best possible cup for the customer.
“We want to make a lot of customers happy.”
Clearly they’re on the right track, as Roast Magazine has named them the 2016 Micro Roaster of the Year by Roast Magazine - quite the impressive feat.
“Our goal is to elevate the quality of coffee in Toronto and beyond”.
A difficult exploit in itself, however they’re attempting to do it with as little of a carbon footprint as possible – their floor is insulated with recycled insulation from an old Zellers building and they roast with an energy efficient roaster that uses 85% less gas.
“Everything we do we try and reduce our footprint. We have plans for solar panels for the roof and eventually when we buy the building we have other plans as well.”
“We really committed is to have 0 carbon footprint.”