Receiver Coffee Q&A with Chris Francis:
We featured the Paulino Ramirez in our Issue #3 Filter AND Classic Pack from the PEI roaster, Receiver Coffee. We caught up with the founder, Chris Francis, to learn a little more about Receiver's origin story and coffee ethos!
What's the origin story of Receiver? What inspired you on your journey?
“I’ve been roasting since 2012, I was pretty young when I got into roasting. I kinda got into it in a weird path, but I think every coffee roaster has a non-linear journey.
Before I got into coffee I was playing music and working in restaurants and didn’t have a clear trajectory. I was always intrigued by the coffee industry and food, and it was really interesting to watch how it was changing. I was fortunate enough to have some great mentors in business and specifically coffee, but I always found that certain practices were weird, and things didn’t make sense to me all the time."
How did you form your coffee ethos? Was there anything that impacted your view of the coffee industry in those early days?
"I remember early on I was talking with someone who was purchasing coffee from a major farm in Ethiopia. And I remember asking if I walk down the road to a different farm with similar coffee, why isn’t it worth the same? Why is the value lower than the bigger farm?
They told me that the smaller farm doesn’t have access and agency, they don’t have the ability to sell their coffee the same way as the larger farm. Their coffee can be just as good, but it’s all about market access. It’s like anything else, if you can’t get your product to market, you’re going to have a hard time selling.
It was always something that stuck with me, especially because in PEI, it’s a farming and fishing industry. I didn’t grow up farming or fishing but a lot of my friends did. It was always on my mind, the whole access thing, like seeing all these people growing coffee. There are all these big names, and that’s all of what people are buying. If you look at all of these big companies, I just thought it was funny that all you see are these same names that these companies are buying from.
Fast forward six years, we were buying coffee through importers. I met with Brendan from Semilla Coffee Imports and we talked about the initiative happening in Mataq, and it really illustrated to me that there was a certain level of responsibility I have as a coffee buyer. For us at a small scale, a lot of that stuff seems daunting, but talking to Brendan I realized you don’t need to be a big coffee roaster to make a difference. You need to work with good buyers. There are people doing special things and they have strong relationships with origin. We need to be giving coffee growers who haven’t had a chance, a chance."
What are you most excited about in the future?
"Being from PEI, we’re pretty isolated in a lot of ways, and we’re at a point in our business when origin trips are starting to make sense. Meeting other people in the coffee industry has never been something I’ve had the opportunity to do because for the longest time we had so little as far as resources went, we were never able to travel since we were so focused on keeping the train on the tracks, so to speak.
So we’re at the point now where we have the skillset and the connections to go to origin and meet other coffee professionals, and I’m pretty stoked about that.”