Q&A with Alfonso Tupaz, Founder of Hatch Crafted
- What led you to start Hatch Coffee? How did you get into coffee?
So for me, it started about eleven years ago, roasting coffee by hand.
I was based in West Africa and my background was in finance and manufacturing. In one of the factories that I worked in, we had a machine shop and one day they ran out of coffee. I was like, "Okay, we have a machine shop, we have people that can build stuff, why don't we just build a roaster?" And we did.
We built a small little hand-crank roaster and started roasting green coffee by hand. And that first roast of coffee changed everything.
Getting into specialty coffee is a one-way ticket. I really jumped down that rabbit hole, and within a month, I became a full-blown coffee nerd. I bought all the books, read all the books, and did everything from pour-overs to whatever I could get my hands on. I decided this is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
- How was roasting that very first time? Where did you get that coffee from and that first batch of coffee… did it actually taste good?
I think it's one of those things when you first taste something that you're not familiar with, thinking it's bad but it always turns out to be really good. And then your second batch is like, "Oh, what is this? This is terrible."
Maybe it's just beginner’s luck, but that first batch is what really changed my mind on coffee. It was super sweet. It was smooth. I had no idea what I was doing, but I roasted the coffee for like 12 minutes. I couldn't control the temperature, because I was using charcoal as the heat source.
I had gotten that first set of green coffees from Ethiopia. I was lucky because somebody was coming back from vacation, and I asked him to bring some green coffee from there to the factory in West Africa.
- Fast forward a few years, you’ve got a full operation here in Markham, always bring in interesting single origin coffees, and have a 15,000 square foot cold brew facility. What’s the main thing you’re striving for?
We're always operating with an open mentality and have an open-door policy in place. We like talking to people, they might be our competitors but we treat it more like co-opetition, because we're all in this together. We want to help lift the specialty coffee community here in Toronto and Canada.
I think one thing to take into account is that it's possible to run an operation, be competitive, have unique offerings and at the same time be a good person and a good company.