Hailing from Red Deer County, Alberta, is Birdy Coffee Co. The roastery shares space with a multi-brewer tap room, Craft Beer Commonwealth. We chatted with owner Ryan Walker to learn more about the specialty coffee scene in Red Deer and the creative coffee beers they are making.

- How did you first get into specialty coffee?

I got into it about eight years ago. I have always had a love for good food and drink. I was on a journey trying to be more aware of what I was eating and drinking and the processes that go into it. During that journey, I noticed coffee had its micro-niche world of that exact microcosm, and I loved it. Since then, it’s just a growing love for the coffee world.

I began a roastery with a friend; it was called Maker House Coffee. It was a hobby, but we produced enough coffee for a few cafes. It ended a few years ago with a seamless transition into starting Birdy as my own roastery. Maker House was slightly more conventional, but Birdy is more specialty, and I aim for a Nordic roasting style. There are a lot of darker coffees around the Red Deer area, so I wanted to do something lighter and more expressive.

- What is your cafe space like with Craft Beer Commonwealth?

We are located in the Gasoline Alley Farmers Market. When they built the space, a group of breweries made Commonwealth Brewery. They then asked me if I wanted to take one end of the bar for Birdy and roast coffee there. After a while, I became the general manager of both businesses, and I could leave my construction job and do Birdy full-time. It’s been such a cool adventure and a positive time with my business partners; they are just letting me do what I love.

- What is the specialty coffee scene in Red Deer like?

It’s growing; we’re seeing a really cool, slow change with more conversation about it. There’s really only a couple of us, specialty roasters in central Alberta. My favourite is finding good coffees that bridge the gap for people and get them interested in specialty coffee.

We’re working on a coffee sour beer. So we would intentionally underdevelop a coffee in a roast to the point where the acidity is pretty sour, but hopefully not astringent, then put that in with a sour beer. If it works, great; if not, that’s fine. It is all part of the journey

September 14, 2023 — Zara Snitman

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