Meet Cavan Coffee
Q&A With Rufus Cavan, the co-owner of Cavan Coffee
“We are smack dab in the suburbs in Guelph. There aren’t a lot of other independent businesses in the area,” Rufus Cavan told us about the roastery and café he owns with his brother. We caught up with Cavan to learn more about their café haven amidst the box malls, their scientific approach to coffee, and their goals for their growing business.
-In what ways do you take a scientific approach to coffee?
In our shop, we freeze the coffee we use for pour-overs to negative 40 degrees. This increases the cohesion of the particles in the coffee, making the grind come out more consistent.
We also do a lot of work with water and refractometers. We do weekly cuppings to test our water’s carbonate hardness, pH levels, and Total
Dissolved Solids (TDS). Recently we had been short on rain, meaning that the water supply had a high bicarbonate content, which was buffering out almost all of the acidity in the coffee. To fix this, we adjusted our TDS downwards to bring the acidity back out.
We taste a lot of coffee and we like to trust our taste buds, but it’s nice to second guess ourselves and double-check the meters
-You own the café with one of your brothers. How is it working together?
We played in bands together for years so we understand how to work together. My brother Jeremy does most of the café work. We try to bring the roastery and café together. The roastery is on one side of the bar and the seating is on the other. People can come over and ask me questions while I am roasting.
- What is your green buying ethos?
We opened just a couple of months before COVID started so we haven’t had a lot of time to establish set criteria, but my dream is to buy directly from farmers. I do a couple of coffees that way now and often pay 3-10 times the fair trade minimum to farmers. If I can’t directly connect with farmers, I use brokers and I am very demanding of them, insisting on seeing the breakdown of wages.
I was in fair trade coffee for years and a lot of the narrative in fair trade when I am talking to farmers is that they are able to make improvements to their farm, like put a toilet on their farm or build a nursery to grow new plants. What I want is for the farmers to be able to live a comfortable lifestyle with higher wages rather than a lifestyle where they are scraping by year to year.
- What are some highlights of your journey so far?
They have to be the relationships I have made. I have become close with a lot of people in Colombia. I have a friend named Wilmar Hernandez who has a farm in Colombia. I buy his coffee seasonally and I also roast coffee for him and he sells it online under the brand Montañeros. He goes to Colombia for harvest for half the year and spends the other half in Canada selling his coffee online. I do all the roasting for him and it’s a relationship I really enjoy. Also, of course, being included in The Roasters Pack! This is very exciting for us.
Coffees featured in Issue #10
In the Light & Adventurous Pack
Mwika North Peaberry
•A washed coffee from Tanzania. With tasting notes of mango, plum and floral.
In the Decaf Pack
•A naturally processed coffee from Ethiopia. With tasting notes of roasted peaches, nougat and cocoa butter.