Get to Know:

Jiri David

Head of Coffee at Chronicle Coffee Roasters, based in Calgary, Alberta

Interview with Jiri David, Head of Coffee at Chronicle Coffee Roasters

We are so excited to welcome Chronicle Coffee Roasters to The Roasters Pack for the very first time! We sat down with Jiri David, Head of Coffee, to learn all about Chronicle and their mission.
Can you tell us more about your specialty coffee journey?
I am originally Czech and when I was in college, I studied Regional Development and Tourism and spent a lot of time working on a computer. Seeing my friends working as doctors and dentists at the time made me really want a job where I could see and experience my work more, so I decided to take a barista class and started working part-time at a cafe. From that point, it was a big learning curve. I eventually got a visa to go to New Zealand for a working holiday and started a job at a coffee roaster in Auckland, and that sparked even more amazing change. I learned so much about how to dial, taste, and brew coffee and had my first experience of working in a roastery there. Then, I worked as a barista in Australia and that showed me another side of coffee. Like in New Zealand, I still crafted specialty coffee, but in Brisbane it was at high volumes; we were making 700 cups a day and I really enjoyed it! But, I always wanted to live in Canada. So, I emailed Karl Ward, founder of Chronicle, and he first had me manage his showroom here in Downtown Calgary until he eventually offered me the position of Head of Coffee. With this role, I am able to travel to origin regularly, and it was always a huge dream of mine to see the whole supply chain. 
Can you tell us more about Chronicle?
Chronicle is a family business that started eight years ago as a small coffee roaster. Our founder Karl’s first job was specialized in selling office coffee, but he really wanted to shift his focus from selling coffee towards learning more about coffee and how to craft it himself. So, he experimented with roasting and here we are today!

Chronicles sourcing philosophy and ethos?
We really care about our producers. We want to source as directly as possible and make an impact to create better lives at origins. We also care deeply about our coffee partners. We’re not just a coffee supplier, we also provide ongoing support for our cafe partners which can involve training and menu development– I’ve even jumped behind bars for support. The rationale is that if we can sell more coffee, we can source more coffee and pay more to the producers. We want everyone in the supply chain to win, and that’s why we don’t feel the need to have our own cafes.
Did your visit to origin change any preconceptions you had about coffee production or the coffee industry in general?
Oh, absolutely. We often hear about the struggles of farmers, but what I found is that we really need to focus more on how farmers treat their pickers. I’m not saying that farmers are rich, but the ones I’ve met are doing decently well and it’s the picking families that are the ones struggling and sleeping on the streets. Seeing this made me question “why is it that we are paying a premium for specialty coffee, but the money is trapped somewhere along the way?”. The problem is that pickers are usually nomads and do not want to be tied to a farm, which I understand. If you have bad weather and you can’t pick coffee for some reason, you are not getting paid. So, they immediately move to another region to pick not just coffee, but other crops like cocoa or plantain. Job security is difficult to find for pickers, and it’s much more complex than what I had imagined before my first visit.

What do you love most about your job?
I love that the industry is always evolving and keeps me on my toes 24/7.