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With Co-founder, Kyle Rowsell

Interview with Kyle Rowsell, Co-founder of September Coffee Co.

As our subscribers already know, Canada has an abundance of specialty coffee roasters to offer across the nation. But, we’ll never say “no” to having another join the roster!
Introducing: September Coffee Co., founded by Kyle and Natasha Rowsell. September is a micro roastery based in Ottawa, Canada with a paramount goal of working with small producers and farmers to share their finest coffees with the community. (Psst, you can find their coffee in our Issue #3 Light Pack, and our Espresso Light Pack!)
If you’ve been a fan of specialty coffee for a while, Kyle Rowsell may be a name or face you recognize. With a large and growing audience of 121K subscribers on YouTube, Kyle has made all sorts of content on his channel geared towards educating people about coffee. Whether you’re looking for a beginner guide to dialling in espresso, or a deep dive into the best coffee grinders, or an honest opinion on mixing espresso and orange juice, Kyle has a video for you. But even before content creating and roasting, Kyle had another passion he shared with the world.
You started as a youth pastor, went full-time into coffee content creation, and then started your own coffee business. Can you walk us through this unique journey? What sparked your pivot into coffee? 
This story goes as far back as a decade ago, but specialty coffee has always been a part of my life. Even in my previous job as a pastor, coffee was a topic I educated people on daily. Seeing as it was a topic that many had questions about, I started a blog about coffee, but it never really took off. The blog ended up just being a convenient place for me to direct friends to whenever they had questions. I never tried to go viral. 
But, when the pandemic hit, the questions started to ramp as everyone was asking me questions about how they should brew coffee at home, and that’s when I decided to take this more seriously and jump into content creation. I would post something every day, whether it be a little tidbit on espresso, or just a pretty photo; it became something I really loved to do and it was very, very personal to me. Everything was exciting at the time as the coffee space was starting to really grow on the online front, and we started to see social media and coffee correlate in a very new way. 
Later that year, I started a YouTube channel. YouTube was something I wanted to do because, on Instagram, posts would become irrelevant in a few days. On the other hand, content posted on YouTube would stay relevant for years to come. I found this to be the most efficient use of my time, especially considering I was making educational and informative content that I wanted people to continue using. My channel took off, and I was really grateful for that, and eventually, YouTube became my main content platform. By now, it became clear that coffee and YouTube were big parts of my life, and naturally, I felt my time was coming to a close as a youth pastor. Going into coffee was a very easy decision for me, as I felt that we had built an incredible brand surrounded by incredibly passionate coffee enthusiasts that I was very proud of. At the time, not many people were quitting their full-time jobs to go into coffee, but with our incredible support system, we felt that we had the ability to do this, and now I can say that coffee is my full-time and main profession. 
I always knew that I wanted to do more than just content creation. I wanted to create something tangible. So this is where I decided to bring forth my priority of putting the producer and farmer first, and start a roastery now known as September Coffee Co. 
We launched a Kickstarter in December of 2022, and its reception surpassed our expectations thanks to the gracious support of our community. This allowed us to secure a facility and a small business loan for our flooring, and give us the chance to build out the business and roastery that we always dreamed of. We are still very new, about a year and a half old as a corporation, and a year old as an online business and storefront, but we are excited about what the future holds. What will remain constant throughout is that we will always continue to learn, be incredibly passionate, and roasting the coffee we love and in the style that we also love to drink.
How have you been doing with navigating all of these changes in your life? 
Great! I think it all comes down to the community you have surrounding you, and like I’ve mentioned before, we’ve been lucky enough to have incredible support throughout the whole process. I just love the coffee community. The people are so generous with their time, knowledge and wisdom, and being part of this community has made all the difference for us. 
As for my career transitions, things have certainly been interesting. There’s been a ton of learning, and my personality is very obsessive. For example, I would go home after a day of work, and continue to spend hours looking at Cropster curves and think about how I can make a coffee taste even better. So, we’re constantly improving in this obsessive manner, but it’s really just my personality coming out through my work!
As one could imagine, it’s not easy to start a roastery and there’s certainly been a lot of hardship. We recently got a weigh-and-fill, but before this, we hand-bagged all of our coffees. There were moments where we were just absolutely exhausted with spending ten hours a day scooping coffee into little bags, but having the vision of where we’re going as a business continues to keep us motivated.
When you’re a passionate business owner, it’s really easy to bring your work home, but all the extra time and thought you put in your coffees is clearly evident! It probably helps that you’re not doing this all alone. What’s it been like working with Natasha, your life partner, on this project? 
It’s been a big learning curve, that’s for sure. There’s been high highs and low lows. For the highs, there’s nobody else than Natasha I’d want to celebrate those moments with. However, there are also moments where things are far more stressful, and our relationship as husband and wife can escalate those moments, but we’re continuing to learn how to navigate these situations as we go, and we’ll only get better. I’m sure that if you ask anyone else who does business with their significant other, they’d agree that, yes, there will be hardship, but at the same time, we wouldn’t change it for the world. Thankfully we’ve been able to bring in more helping hands which has been able to better both our efficiency and our relationship.
The other reality is that we are the parents of two kids. If it was just the two of us, Natasha and I, we wouldn’t mind the grind as much, but our youngest is two and a half, and often has to come to the shop with us. When he’s here during the week, we sometimes throw on some Paw Patrol while we roast and bag, and on the weekend, our five-year old will join, and the two would ride around the roastery on their little bikes and scooters. This is an element that most people don’t see when they receive a bag of September. This is very much a family business, and we think it’s really cool for our kids to be able to take part and watch mom and dad create something new and special together.
When will you get them to work?
As soon as they can reach the settings of the Loring they will be trained, that’s for sure!
Can you tell us about the name September and the umbrella icon?
September is multi-faceted for us. We incorporated our business in the month of September; Natasha and I met in the month of September many years ago; We had our first child in the month of September; Lots of firsts for the business in the month of September. So, for us, while there’s a lot of sentimental and nostalgic meaning to the month of September, there’s also exciting implications for the future now that we have incorporated the business and are starting this new venture together.
The umbrella imagery is not as deep as you may think! We simply thought of the month of September and what it reminds us of. We think it’s a month that is often filled with various weather patterns, and we thought the umbrella was a natural choice to go along with that. The umbrella is also a nod to umbrella terms, and in this sense, September Coffee Co. is simply one element of our lives that fits under the umbrella of coffee.
What are you hoping for the future of September? Goals and aspirations?
The next twelve months will be about further solidifying our roast style, continuing to get our name out there as a roastery in Canada and establishing our brand.
Further down the road, a cafe is also always on our minds. Ottawa has a few amazing specialty cafes, but not as many as say, Toronto or Montreal, so we have a great opportunity to do that here in our home city. But, for now, we are working on building out a little coffee lab at the front of our roastery, and eventually, in Kyle-fashion, we hope to have eight to ten grinders going so people can taste coffees from different grinders, a few espresso machines and a Slayer up there. It won’t be a traditional cafe; it’ll be a bit nerdier, but people can come by, grab their coffee, grab some September beans, and just geek out about all things coffee!
It sounds like we’ve all got to make a trip to Ottawa soon! We are so excited about what the future has in-store for Kyle, Natasha and September Coffee Co. 
Make sure not to miss out on their coffees featured in our Issue #3 Light Pack and Espresso Light Pack!