Q&A with Carsen Oglend of Drumroaster Coffee
Carsen Oglend and his parents opened Drumroaster Coffee in 2007.
Located in a shopping complex off the Trans-Canada Highway on Vancouver Island, Drumroaster has become a destination spot for vacationers and coffee lovers.
Over the past 15 years, Oglend has learned a lot about the specialty coffee world. We chatted with Oglend to hear how the industry has changed and what he thinks is on the horizon.
- What is something you have noticed throughout your time in the industry?
I started to see that there were groups of producers that were getting the benefit of the specialty market and that there were groups that were not. In general, and it’s not every producer, but typically, large estate owned producers were getting the best access to the specialty market over smallholder producers.
This kept smallholder producers in a financially and socioeconomically volatile state. They are at the highest risk of financial failure because they live harvest to harvest. They often don’t have a second source of income to draw from, so they rely solely on their sale of coffee for the year to get them through every year.
- What are some of the challenges producers are currently facing?
More smallholder producers are moving into the specialty market, but new challenges are always arising, and they are less insulated from these challenges than estate producers. Climate change is a big one. We are seeing an increased frequency of landslides and floods, and in Guatemala last year, they had a lot of hail which knocked a lot of coffee blossoms off their crop. There has also been labour shortages. Many people in Central America have made the trip to the States. When I was down there in March, one producer told us that they were losing many of their pickers to the Canadian Foreign Worker Visa program.
Because the market is growing, roasters are paying more for specialty coffee because they realize they have to. We have more access to information, and producers have more access to information that they have ever had. We can all do better, though.